Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kindle This

Wordvixen recently had a post about libraries and their effect on author's royalties. She can correct me if I'm wrong but the gist of her post was that she used to think that the ready availability of books for free checkout has to hurt sales, but then the while rereading the archives of the gone, but not forgotten Miss Snark, she came to see the positive aspects of a libraries when it comes to a writer's bank account.

Miss Snark talked about the facts that library sales are non-returnable, they buy mostly hardcover, and they buy early and in multiple copies many times. All good valid points, but as I stated in my comments to Vixen's post - without libraries to foster and nurture readers we writers would be in a world of trouble.Or so I see it.

I know you would not be reading this post if not for the many doors my frequent trips to the library opened for me as a child.

I was raised by a single mom and probably her biggest caveat to me as a child was -- READ. She used to say I don't care if it's a comic book or the back of a cereal box I want you to read every chance you get. Being a single mom and a very tight budget she used the library to punctuate her staunch reading philosophy.

Without fail she took me to our local branch every other week. I carried home stacks of books Encyclopedia Brown, Hank the Cowdog, Any and everything by Beverly Cleary and even at a young age I stooped to reading girl's books like those by Judy Blume. There was The Indian in the Cupboard, Where the Red Fern Grows, Ralph the Runaway Mouse and many others. Then I moved up to the Hardy Boys those books where you chose your own ending, and later I discovered Alfred Hitchcock, Louis Lamour, Mark Twain, and I've been a book junkie every sense.

I could go one for days listing the library books I loved as a child. When I found a lizard or a snake the first thing I did after securing the critter in a jar with holes in the lid was get my mom to take me to the library so I could look up facts about the animal. I guess the internet has probably taken that role now but for me there is still no greater feeling than walking into the library and feasting my eyes on the row and rows of books and the knowledge, entertainment and joy that can be garnered by spending a little time between all those pages.

And don't even get me started on the fond memories I have of my Elementary school library and librarian.

So as an author, I would never begrudge or lament the loss of a single sale do to a person checking out my book from the library. When the day comes that one of my works is available on the very shelves I perused as a kid and still do to this day I'll be just as filled with pride as I would any endcap at Barnes and Noble.

Three cheers for any librarians out there who might read this, like Lana.

26 comments:

Chumplet said...

Tonight, I just returned from a spelling bee for adults, raising money for a local library. I actually approached the head librarian, asking for advice and offering a donation of my book.

We made it to the fourth round, by the way.

Hey, that Miss Daisy mentioned you on her blog. Tee Hee!

alex keto said...

Around here in Maryland, authors use libraries the same way lions use watering holes. They know the prey gathers there, so they lurk in the weeds a lot and then pounce.
Actually, what happens is the Montgomery County library system hosts a lot of author readings and talks. These all wind up with the chance to buy some of their books from the couple of crates they bring. If there is some conflict over using a public building for private sales, no one has been so uncouth as to mention it yet, so it continues unobstructed by idiotic lawsuits.

CamiKaos said...

I've been known to check a book out from the library... decide if I like it or not and then buy it if I did...

WordVixen said...

Miss Daisy mentioned Travis? Omg... I have to see that!

Wow. I just totally forgot what I was going to say in response to this post. But, yup, Travis, you got it right. :) And I so miss going to libraries. Just the smell of all those books in one place! I love the smell of new books too, but it's just not the same.

spyscribbler said...

SO true. The simple fact is, I can't afford to buy all that I read. I am terribly sorry about that. I am. Completely.

I just can't.

I do, however, try to talk about books all the time. No matter who I'm talking to, I find out what they like to read, and I talk book with them. Maybe I'll sneak in a bit like, "I heard he just came out with a new one this week! It's supposed to be amazing ..." Or I rave up another new author or something.

Btw, I completely FORGOT about The Indian in the Cupboard. I LOVED that book! Ohmigosh, I LOVED it! I can't remember why, but I remember the feeling I had vividly, and the illustrations ...

Phats said...

I agree go Librarians!!!

I grew up going to the library as well, and getting lost in as many adventures as possible. Now, I go to Barnes and Noble and do the same method pick a book and read it in the store HAHA JK! I buy them :)

Stephen Parrish said...

I also have my mother to thank for feeding me books. Although this post is mostly about libraries (and I agree with every word), I'll add that the three most important things you can do for your child are:

1. Love her.

2. Show it.

3. Fill her shelves with books.

Sam said...

Yes, three cheers! Great post!!!

angel, jr. said...

I love Where the Red Fern Grows. And I bet if I looked in my attic I could find a bunch of those choose your own ending books.

alex keto said...

Whoa dude, you got mentioned in an agent blog, Miss Daisy.

Okay, it was a U.K. agent and she kind of dissed you over marshmallows (Where did she get that from? Was she on serious drugs?)

But... you've managed to attract a reader who can sign a contract.

Congrats

Brooke said...

I had to smile when I saw your childhood reading list because I still have most of those same books in a crate for my daughter...they are a little worse for the wear because I still re-read them to this day when I am feeling out of sorts.

Britta Coleman said...

I think there's a direct connection between people who write and people who love libraries. My mama and your mama should be friends. We had the same mantra of READ EVERYTHING in my home and I remember being awed that the library let you take home books for free. Free!

Now that I have a published novel, it's been a pleasure to return the favor and speak to libraries and readers' groups. Those crowds don't buy as many books, but as Spyscribbler noted, people who read do talk. It's that positive word of mouth that can make a difference in sales.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

We should institute a "kiss your librarian" day. Giggle.

Melissa Marsh said...

Bravo and well said! I loved the library as a kid and that was my first job in high school - working at our smalltown library.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm much the same way. I did 99 percent of my early reading from libraries because we had no money for books. Nowdays I buy LOTS of books myself and without having developed my love of reading from libraries I never would be doing that.

And yes, Lana gets kudos.

Shauna Roberts said...

Great post! I remember with great fondness my father taking me to the library every week when I was young and my coming home with a big stack of books.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Travis, we librarians thank you!

Linda

The Anti-Wife said...

Well said, Travis. Well said!

Ello said...

Good for you Travis! You know how much I love the library also! I practically lived there growing up. And now because I teach, I get to use university libraries to get all my research books that would cost me hundreds of dollars a book! Oh yes, I love me the library!

Barrie said...

I, too, am hugely into libraries. :)

deborah elliott-upton said...

Reading Mickey Spillane's I,THE JURY at the downtown library was when I discovered I wanted to be a writer. I read every mystery the library had after that. I could never have afforded all those books. My favorite librarian is Nan Kemp (don't hold your applause!) She was tremendous help when I needed extensive research and she found many things I couldn't get access to. She is terrific!

Merry Monteleone said...

Nice post, Travis, I can't agree more. Libraries do so much more than just offer the loan of books, too, they offer a place to foster the love of learning to anyone who enters regardless of means... that says a lot.

We use our local library on a pretty regular basis. Not only to check out books, but they have reading clubs so the kids can log how many books they've read in the summer and winter vacations - each time they hit a plateau they get a different prize out of the treasure trove (you'd be amazed what kind of fervent dedication a 2 cent plastic lizard can garner).

They have story times for the young ones, art sessions for the older ones and all sorts of stops in between. My mom was the PR person for our library for a lot of years - they even had a poetry slam for the high school kids and the winners, chosen by the kids, got published in the library newsletter... it's not only a place to learn the love of reading, when it's run well by librarians that really care (and many of them do) it fosters a love of community and learning - something a kindle or computer can't do.

Therese said...

I had the pleasure of doing a pre-pub signing at the ALA (American Libraries Association)convention in January. As part of that trip, I met my publisher's Library Sales and Marketing team and wow, were my eyes opened!

Like you, Travis, and most of the commenters here, libraries were essential to my well-being for most of my life. At ALA I learned how essential they are to new authors, for all the reasons Wordvixen (and Miss S.) say.

Libraries help give new authors a presence in the crowded marketplace that we wouldn't have otherwise. It's a win-win-win (readers-authors-publishers) scenario.

One of my greatest joys in being published is just as you've imagined for yourself: my book is in all "my" libraries!

Lana Gramlich said...

Yayyyyyyyy! Hooray for libraries!
Unfortunately I just learned that our rat bastard President just cut all funding for the RIF (reading is fundamental) program. If there was ever a reason for a president to go down in infamy--and this one sure has a long list already, don't get me wrong--this would be it.
I'm glad for my library job, where I have the opportunity to engage & encourage readers of every age. We're fortunate, too, in that we have quite a good number of regular patrons. I sometimes thought the library would go the way of the dinosaur with the advent of the internet, but fortunately there's just enough bad info on the net that libraries are still a highly required aspect of any civilized society. And what bang for your buck, really!

deborah elliott-upton said...

I love history...or did you already know that about me? Thanks for today's post. I really enjoyed it.

Bubblewench said...

I remember loving the smell of the library. And thinking that was the smell of books.