Though this post concentrates on books, the same may be said for other things in life. With wages depressed in many places, many people cannot afford quality food, for instance. And those who can afford quality food still buy the cheapest they can...which is destructive to farming practices that preserve and sustain agricultural land in all nations, land that is vital to the biological and chemical systems that sustain all life on this planet. When land taxes and other costs force UK and US farmers to quit farming--and their land turns into hardscapes of roofs and roads and parking lots--there's both a loss of vegetation that produces oxygen and a huge load of additional carbon dioxide produced. There's also increased runoff from rain--dirty water into the streams and rivers, causing floods, and less water soaking into the ground to emerge (filtered by soil and rock) as clean springs that provide cleaner water. Moreover, the skills of sustainable farming--the best use of agricultural land, with a lower production of CO2 and production of quality food that is itself less contaminated by pesticides and fertilizers and contributes fewer of these chemicals to groundwater and runoff--are easily lost in the skip of a few generations.
Our human situation on this planet is not sustainable now, and saving as many human lives as possible requires changing our ideas about what is valuable and what is not.