Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Friday, July 03, 2015

Industry question: library sales

About 75% of the books I read, I get from my local library and inter-library loan.  I've also read that getting your book into libraries is difficult but a good goal to pursue, I assume because of the exposure [like songs on the radio].
I'm curious about whether the library pays more/less to buy their books than the general public, and whether the author is paid more/less for books sold to libraries.

I'm very glad to hear you're a devoted library user. I love libraries in general, and the libraries of my misspent youth in particular. The Seattle Public Library was where I discovered books that influence me to this day. Where I discovered the joy of escaping into a whole new world, and making friends with people very different than me. Sue Barton! Beany Malone! Homer Price! Misty of Chincoteague!

Even the small, woefully understocked school library in my sixth grade elementary school introduced me to Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.   

Libraries were where I first discovered Perry Mason, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. I had to depend on Christmas and birthdays for Nancy Drew since the library acquisitions team did not deign to include them.

Oddly, I don't have anywhere near the same devotion to bookstores that I do to libraries. I'm sure I must have been in bookstores when I was a kid (at the very least the University of Washington bookstore) but it is libraries I remember and love.

In other words, and perhaps more succinctly: Libraries Rock.

Oh wait, there was a question here wasn't there?

Let me get off my soapbox and answer it.

Libraries pay close to full retail for books. (Bookstores buy books at a bigger discount because they are re-selling them)  Often libraries buy more than one copy of a book as well. Authors receive full royalty rates on books sold to libraries.

"Getting your book into libraries" isn't just a matter of luck. Librarians are very careful with their budgets, and their patrons' interests.  They buy very carefully.  Most often their purchases are review driven. Library Journal, Kirkus and PW are the go-to places. There's almost no way a single author can get his or her book into a library. The best avenue for that is to have library patrons request the book.

I'm not sure I've said this enough today: Libraries Rock.



AJ Blythe said...

In Australia authors also receive a 'royalty' (probably not the right word) for borrows. There's a minimum number of borrow you have to reach, but I know of a number of authors who make money from our libraries.

AJ Blythe said...

(Woohoo - first!)

Our local library is a dangerous place because the maximum number of books you can borrow at one time is 50. Now I can only go on school holidays with my Barbarians, because otherwise they would never do their homework. Instead they would be working their way down their towering pile of library books. Why would you tell kids they can borrow 50 books?

We love our library =)

LynnRodz said...

AJ, and yours is a legit first. (LOL!) 50 books at one time, how long are you allowed to keep your books? That's crazy.

I love libraries because it reminds me of my dad who was an avid reader and who's been gone far too long. He used to take me and my siblings to the library all the time. It was an outing with dad and mum stayed home. We'd pile in the car and chatter away, but on the ride home everything was quiet. Each of us had our nose in a book. I use to wonder why mum didn't come with us, but afterwards I realized it was a much needed break for her to relax at home without all the noise.

Thank you for sharing a peek into your life, Janet. I've been to 46 out of the 48 States, but I've never been to Washington State or Oregon. I understand they're beautiful. I'll have to make it a point to visit one day.

Sam Hawke said...

Growing up, we used to go to the library every few weeks and borrow a giant stack of books. When we got home my mum would make us record the title and author in a notebook, which was a giant pain at the time, but a wonderful thing years later as adults when we could search that book and find the name of the half-remembered story we had loved so much just by scouring the old book for repeated titles. Once my boys are old enough I hope to do the same thing with them.

And here is a bizarre story for you. While writing this comment just now I was thinking of the delight my sister and I felt at uncovering a much loved story through this process, which I googled so that I could reference the author. Typed 'When Marnie Was There' into google and got articles as recent as YESTERDAY referencing a Japanese anime movie based on that book. Weird!

LynnRodz said...

I should've said, 'they' remind me of my dad and 46 out of the 48 'continental' states. That's what I get for not proof reading before hitting publish.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I also wondered if libraries paid less for books. I love libraries.

In Italy I visited the Laurentian Library more than once. Hands in pockets. I did get to hold and copy originals at Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawing Only pencils are allowed. That was amazing. I think all those copies went into the city dump along with sonnets and other manuscripts. My reaction to someone like yesterday's Bob, at the time, made me feel worthless. Sigh.

Sam, asking your children to record their books is a great idea.

See y'all in a week. It's been a year since I've had a vacation.

Kitty said...

I grew up in the little village of Morris, NY. To give you an idea of its size, the population was in the high 3 digits; in 1960 Morris Central School graduated 31 seniors. The village has grown to approximately 1,800 now. I walked by the town library every day to and from school. It was on Main St. in an old store front next to a bar. Sometime after we moved, the library bought a little stone house next to an unpaved driveway called Pig Tail Alley. Because it was a driveway, it was a deadend. But everyone used it as a short cut to another part of town. Here's a composite picture: Morris Public Library next to Pig Tail Alley

Btw, MAD MEN's Don Draper was based on a real person named Draper Daniels, who graduated from Morris Central School in 1931.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Our library is great! My biggest problem with it is that I can only put five books "on hold" at a time. Five books, while my TBR list is pages and pages long! Sigh. Thankfully, my husband, who enjoys reading but not as much as I do, lets me use a number of his "holds" for my books. Now that's true love. :)

Amanda Capper said...

I've had a library card as far back as I can remember.

Colour me dumb but I never thought to ask my local library to buy my book. My publisher gave me five books to throw around so I donated one to the library.

Craig said...

I like libraries because I can surprise myself. If I was forced to buy all that I read I would not be as adventurous.

That said, out of every five or so books I check out one or two don't get read for some reason or other. I try to digest them all but it doesn't work. It is amazing how wide the spectrum of written material is and libraries are the place to explore that spectrum.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I went to high school in a small town of 500 people. Mom tended bar long hours, so that meant I was pretty much raising three siblings. On Saturdays, I'd walk downtown with them to the little public library, by little I mean a building about 12x12 and we'd check out books. I read pretty much everything in there and started over again more than once. God bless that little building.

I've often thought if I got the chance I'd like to support the public library, the school library, and Deer Draw School, which is a little one-room school with grades 1-8.

In later years, I've always supported the Friends of the Library book sales. I buy up loads of books and donate them to Books for Soldiers or include them in care packages for soldiers. Any Soldier allows a rep from a company to send in a wish list so you know exactly what they need. I know the books I send to soldiers who request books are going to get passed around until the pages fall out.

When I moved from Texas to Oklahoma, one of the young men unloading the truck said, "Did you know you have 35 boxes of books> What'd you do, rob a library before you left Texas?'

I want to visit this library and stay until they kick me out for drooling to much.

Christopher Meades said...

I hate library books. People take them home & read them in the bathroom.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Libraries, sore point, it was a fantastic resource up until about three years ago, since then, theft has gone orbital, according to the catalogue entries and the new stocking policy is focused on a somewhat narrow interest.

Theresa said...

Books were big in our house while I was growing up. We could stay up an extra half hour if we were reading. Our books came from the public and school libraries, which made it easy to try lots of different books.

I still love the library today, still go weak in the knees as I browse the stacks. I put in requests for the library to order a book it doesn't have. The public library here is very good (though it doesn't pay royalties to authors--what a great idea!) about ordering a variety of new books. Since it is tied into a regional system, I can get anything I want, even new releases, on a timely basis.

In a few weeks I'll be taking my first trip out to the Pacific NW, flying into Seattle then heading up to Bellingham.

Craig said...

Bed Bugs. I would have a deeper fear of people reading them in bed. A local (other side of the bay) library system got bedbugs. A can of Lysol is cheaper than heat treating your house.

E.Maree said...

Aaaand if you're in UK libraries, you can sign up to the PLR and receive a small payment every time someone takes out your book. LIBRARIES REALLY REALLY ROCK.

S.D.King said...

I apologize up front, but I have a lot to say about libraries.

Spent 15 years as a school librarian. Whether I am a decent writer is yet to be determined, but I was a GREAT librarian. I loved matching kids up with books, turning reluctant readers into voracious readers, and steering kids toward something they would not have selected on their own. Kids and parents cried when I left.

Growing up, my tiny public library introduced me to Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, and biographies.

And to Craig and Christopher - you are right - public library books are not quite as sanitary as those purchased and kept at home. So I don't rub my face on the covers like I do my own books. For more on the germ perspective, I recommend reading Ray Bradbury's short story "Fever Dreams." I always read that to my 7th and 8th grade reading workshop classes and they never forgot it.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Sadly or pathetically I haven't stepped foot in a library (to borrow) for years. Because I write so much it takes me forever to finish a book. Our writing group used to meet in the local library, we had our own key, then we met at a seaside resort, great bar. Liquor won over.

The Sleepy One said...

I used to work for a book distributor that primarily served academic libraries. I was impressed by all of the behind-the-scenes work and different ways books end up in libraries. Some of the order systems (like approvals) are surprisingly complex.

Side note: our clients rarely paid full retail for books but the discount wasn't as high as bookstores. 10% off of list price was normal.

french sojourn said...

I have found myself visiting libraries when on vacation. It feels like a sanctuary to me.

My favorite yet was in Hallowell, Maine. Granite and ornate, but when I walked in and started setting up my laptop to write, there was a group of a dozen 7-8 year old being read to. I didn't power up my lap top. Just watched, hypothesized. I though how cool for these kids to be transported to another world, and maybe for one of these kids to be a successful writer in twenty years. (And they wouldn't write run on sentences like me.)

Still go to that library, when ever I visit my best friend.

Cheers and have a nice weekend all.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

In my library system, you can place 25 holds. And that counts system wide, so you aren't just waiting for your "home library's" copy to become available, but rather the next available copy for every library. And that's just physical items (books on CD, books, large print books, music CDs, DVDs); we also use Overdrive as an eBook and Audiobook catalog, and that has its own separate checkouts and renewals and suchlike. The Overdrive items have a checkout limit (I wanna say 3), the physical items have no system limit (well, 5 DVDs, as many books as you want).

I cannot speak for how much we pay for stuff, as I don't know. Other than the fact that library editions of audiobooks cost FAR MORE than the editions people can buy at the book store (like, $110 vs. $12 or $20 or whatever, though that used to cover things like free replacements of damaged parts. Depending on the company, "free" has turned into "addiitonal fee).

My library accepts donations from local authors. If their book isn't in the system, we do have to pay a processing fee ($5? I think?) to have it cataloged, and then we barcode it, put the pocket on, etc.). We do peruse the publications Janet mentioned, and I'm one of the people at my library who can put an oar in so far as opinion goes; just this week, I perused a PW and a Kirkus (which contained a very nice review for Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy which is good because 1. It means it'll probably get ordered [besides the fact we have her other book Let's Pretend This Never Happened] and 2. Kirkus can be freaking brutal. Like, eviscerate you in one sentence brutal. Damn you with faint praise. Etc. etc.)

If our library patron holds for a certain title exceed 10, we order another copy, rinse/repeat (I think we have three copies of Gone Girl and that's as far as we're going; I can't remember the peak holds I saw on that one, it might've been 263. I got it early, not because I have an "advantage" as an employee (we still can't jump the holds list. That's damn unethical), but because I've liked Gillan Flynn since her first book, Sharp Objects, and recommended we order it and placed a hold before it caught on like wildfire and looooong before the movie hubbub.)

lizosisek said...

I love all of these love letters to libraries! I'm a huge fan of libraries, though I'll admit I'm a bit biased, as I'm also a librarian.

I don't work in acquisitions, but I know my library orders most of our books from Baker & Taylor, a company that does offer discounts to public libraries. (Though I think B&T pays publishers full price for the books?) This is only for print and some audiobooks -- no discounts on eBooks or digital audiobooks(in fact, libraries usually have to pay WAY more for an eBook license than the retail price).

As far as getting your book in libraries goes, the best way to do this is to have your readers/fans request the book at their local library. We purchase almost every book that's requested (if it's cost-prohibitive or on a really specialized topic, like a college textbook, we'll get it through interlibrary loan), and I know most other public libraries work the same way.

Rakie said...

I recently discovered that, as well as the regular library in my home town, we have a Family Library dedicated entirely to children and YA books. It is utterly delightful.

It's also just had its funding cut, and without serious help will close in approximately 6 months, so I'm encouraging everyone i know to help fundraise for them. If y'all know any benevolant millionaire book-fans please point them towards their local library, all libraries need our help and support! :)

Ashes said...

I work as a substitute librarian and as you can imagine, I too LOVE libraries.

In our library, the books are usually not purchased locally. The librarian operates on a shoestring budget and most of that money goes towards maintaining the children's programming.

Books are purchased at a regional level by a librarian who operates out of the regional office, she doesn't even work at a library. She'll based her decision on library journals, books that are climbing the bestseller lists, and the statistics from individual libraries. If a lot of westerns are going out at our location she'll be inclined to purchase more westerns for us. When we were receiving The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry every other week from the inter-library loan system, she bought us our own copy.

She's not open to calls from authors any more than we are. We do get those types of calls, but we equate them with solicitors. We've also received self-published books in the mail and we generally put them in the summer book sale, not on the shelves. Memorably, the post once brought us a poorly edited memoir which was basically one long thinly-veiled attack on the author's ex-wife. I imagined him sending it to libraries all across the country. That poor woman.

Here's the best way to get your book on our library shelves: become a patron. When a regular library patron shows up and sheepishly mentions he's published we get excited. There are two I know of, one self-published and one traditionally published, both fantastic non-fiction authors. When they come in with a new title we promptly put it on the shelf and enter it into our system (which means it can be requested by libraries all over the province via an inter-library loan).

What's more, we actively tout those books as published by local authors and recommend them to patrons who like the genre.

Kitty said...

My mother was a librarian in one of the downtown Rochester (NY) libraries during WWII. After that, she became a high school librarian where she said she was nothing more than a glorified babysitter with a ton of paperwork. This was back before computers, when the card catalog ruled. Oddly enough, I don't remember ever seeing my mother read a book. But after she retired, she joined a book club and always had a book she was reading.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

When I was researching the King Ranch, the ladies in the historical section of the library were wonderful. It was amazing what we ferreted out of the archives. I found stuff the King Ranch historian couldn't find. Needless to say, he loved me.

Librarians are a vastly under utilized resource.

One of the guys in Will's unit is cute as a button. A real chick magnet. At the deployment ceremony in Midland, TX, we looked over at him and this middle-aged lady was just making over him. I asked Will if that was his mother. He said nope, didn't know who she was. Katie, Will's girlfriend said, "No, that's the mayor!"

"Trevor's hitting on the mayor?!"

"I think the mayor's hitting on him."

She was just being friendly, of course, but it was funny at the time because, like I said...chick magnet.

So, Trevor, the chick magnet and gunner, comes back from Iraq and goes to school to become...a librarian. Who knew? He loves research and is apparently very good at it. He got a job in New Orleans and is happy as a clam with all that history.

The Sleepy One said...

lizosisek: I don't work in acquisitions, but I know my library orders most of our books from Baker & Taylor, a company that does offer discounts to public libraries. (Though I think B&T pays publishers full price for the books?) This is only for print and some audiobooks -- no discounts on eBooks or digital audiobooks(in fact, libraries usually have to pay WAY more for an eBook license than the retail price).

When I worked for a company that was a competitor of B&T, we generally bought books at wholesale and then sold them to libraries for list price minus negotiated discount. Occasionally we paid full retail price for some titles, usually from very small or esoteric publishers. We then added a surcharge to those titles, which varied depending upon on the contract negotiated between the library and our company. Note that we didn't just provide the books, but also technical support (MARC record related stuff, etc, tailored to each library's needs).

John Frain said...

Not to brag (which, of course, means I'm about to) but I have a shelf named for me at our local library. It holds mysteries, which doesn't make me an enigma. There was money involved, but no sense delving into the details and ruining an otherwise well-timed story.

Megan V said...

Did someone say library?

I've moved around quite a bit in recent years, but the first thing I do when I move is get a library card. IMHO, every writer should have a love affair with their local library. One short fling can lead a new author, some fabulous research, and the oh-so-distant maybe one day my book will be on these shelves. Plus, it's a great way to meet readers!

It's interesting to see the library's purchasing process for books. It's a bummer when libraries don't have a budget that allows them to acquire a really diverse set of books. But you'll find that many libraries appreciate donations!

Colin Smith said...

I made good use of our library growing up, both for borrowing books and also records (and later CDs). Two very memorable book borrows: DOCTOR WHO AND THE AUTON INVASION and THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Back before you could get Doctor Who on video tape, let alone DVD, novelizations were the only way fans could access old stories. I was delighted to discover the library had a copy of this particular story (for the Whovians, it's a novelization of "Spearhead from Space"--the first Third Doctor story). I seem to recall I was off school sick, lying in bed, when I read this and a couple of other Who novels.

As for THE WAR OF THE WORLDS--I was (and still am) a big fan of Jeff Waynes' Musical Version, which, as far as I'm aware, is not very well known outside of Europe. Shame. I mean, with Richard Burton narrating? Come on! Anyway--not long after I got the double-LP for my birthday (9th perhaps? I don't recall precisely), I wanted to read the original novel. No surprise, our library carried a copy. The 1975 Pan edition, the cover of which I never forgot. It remains one of my favorite book covers:

1975 Pan Edition of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

I enjoyed the novel and borrowed it more than once.

Both of those books are now part of my collection. :) No, I didn't steal them. I found them online and acquired them for myself. I was particularly pleased to track down a near-mint copy of that same edition of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.

So, yay libraries! :)

Amanda Capper said...

A shelf named after you!? A WHOLE SHELF!

I don't care how you got it, John, I'm impressed. Envious. Jaw-dropping jealous.

Maybe I'll mention this idea to my local. Library, that is, not pub. I have a bar stool with my name on it, though I doubt anyone is envious over that.

Colin Smith said...

And as for reading books in the bathroom--what's the big deal? You sit down, read while doing your business, you put the book down, clean up, flush, wash your hands, pick up your book, and leave. What's unsanitary about that? Unless you're afraid of the book getting splashed, in which case you need to sit up when you read.

Seriously, I've seen all kinds of stains on library book pages, but I don't ever recall evidence of a book having been in close proximity to human waste as a result of careless toilet procedures.

CynthiaMc said...

When libraries converted to the Dewey decimal system, my mother converted every school library I went to (we moved a lot). She would have me shelve the books, which worked for about 5 minutes until I found one I wanted to read.

One reason we have this house is because the entire living room between windows is full of built in bookshelves. And the den has two more that I've added. One is my "to read" treasures found at garage sales or Goodwill. One is full of my writing projects. The built in shelf by my side of the couch has all my "reading right now" books. And I always have 2 audio books on Overdrive for commute time, weeding time, or cleaning time. I clean a lot more if I'm trying to finish the chapter.

Michelle said...

Ooh, my favorite non-librarian blog is discussing libraries? I'm officially out of lurkdom now.

While we do get a discount on print books, e-books are generally way more expensive for libraries than they are for consumers. Some general audience, non-academic titles can be as much as $120. Reference and academic books can be hundreds of dollars. That's for single-use lending, where everyone pretends it's like a print book and can only be read by one person at a time. None of the large publishers allow simultaneous access lending. It's kinda a bad deal compared to print books. I have no idea if authors get higher compensation for e-book sales to the library market than the consumer market. If so, good for them.

I always figured that other librarians read this blog, but it's nice to see. How many of you are not writers? I don't write; I just like learning about how books end up on our shelves.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Oh dear Colin, the image you put in my head... sit up on the toilet when you read so you don't splash on the book. Not a good image.

I've also been a library patron whatever town I've lived in and, when they were in vogue, I used the mobile library too when that would tour the region because I would inevitably run out of my genre when I was a teen. I was a bit selective in my reading then.

Craig said...

S.D.- sorry if I mislead you.
The camp I am in is the one that things our world is too sanitized. You should actively build your immune system before the zombie plague arrives. Your cell phone is probably nastier than a public restroom. For many years I was in the environmental business and sampled all of those bacteria samples that your television news occasionally scars you with.

Colin- The musical War of the Worlds was spectacular. A personal favorite from it was Forever Autumn by Hayward

Kyler said...

Hi Janet, yes, libraries rock! And I love my local Village libraries here in NYC. Here's my story (briefly): when my novel came out last July, I donated a copy to Jefferson Market, my closest branch. After 6 months of polite following up, it seems that copy was lost (takes forever to get cataloged) - so they bought 3 copies, I believe from Amazon in my case. It took forever, but they're finally there, and my local branches face them out, so they often get checked out. Great to be there, but like the local bookstores, I had to fight to get in there, being with a small press. Have a good weekend - unfortunately, the libraries are closed!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Hey, for a double duty grossout, how about the number of people who I overhear answering the phone in the library's public bathroom on a daily basis (and we are a no cell phones facility, but people don't realize/don't care sometimes)?

From the state of our books, CDs and DVDs, people eat and read/watch an awful lot. They also use the audiobooks on their commutes I know, but judging from the lip prints on the edges of the discs, they also change out the discs en route.

Dena Pawling said...

This is my question. My mother brought us kids to the library regularly, and I've always loved reading.

I love my local library. Right now it's hosting the summer reading program. My kids always sign up. Last year my #4 discovered that adults can sign up also, so I did. I read the required 6 books and was able to choose a free book as my reward. On the prize rack was the newest [at the time] Janet Evanovich book which I snatched up like lightning. I also got to enter the drawing for the grand prize, an iPad Mini. Two days after the program ended, my husband called me at work and told me the library had called. I won the drawing! Very cool. I loaded Overdrive so I can check out e-books. This summer I've already read my 6 books [4 audio because I'm in the car a LOT, 2 physical copies] and I snatched another Janet Evanovich book.

We can check out 35 books at a time, for 3 weeks with 2 renewals. We limit ourselves to 10 books each, so we don't misplace them. Sometimes I check out too many books and I do end up requiring the entire 9 weeks to read them all. I also reserve books if they're already checked out, but I know I have to read those quickly because if a book is reserved after I have it, I can't renew it.

I've requested my library buy certain books. I've used inter-library loan. I've whined enough [along with other patrons, I'm sure] that my library recently expanded its audio book selection. Like Craig, if I had to buy all my books, I wouldn't read nearly so much in genres I was curious about but not sure I'd like. My house is already stacked way too high with books I've bought, from Friends of the Library and from other sources. I need to donate them back to Friends, altho many of them I don't want to part with.

Last week I was browsing the NEW BOOKS shelves and found two awesome books – the acknowledgment page on one thanks Barbara Poelle and the other thanks Janet Reid [does anyone here know these folks?] I've never written a formal book review but I'm gonna try it for these books, just for fun. I've already started a page on my blog and done a preliminary review [not that I would know if there is such a thing as “preliminary review”] of both books, it's here if anyone is interested

AJ Blythe – where does the library [or is it another source?] get the money to pay authors when books are checked out? Don't get me wrong, I love the concept [*smile*], but where does the money come from?

SD King - I just googled Ray Bradbury Fever Dream. Wiki says it was written in 1948, so theoretically still subject to copyright, but I found it available in full on the internet
Very eerie story. I found it odd that the Wiki article is not correct about three separate aspects of the story [if the story I found online is actually the correct story]. Maybe the 1948 isn't right either.

Ashes - “Here's the best way to get your book on our library shelves: become a patron. When a regular library patron shows up and sheepishly mentions he's published we get excited.”
This wasn't even on my radar. Thanks for this idea!

My husband says that library books have “library binding.” Not sure if most of the books I've ever checked out, had any different/more sturdy binding than I usually find in books at bookstores. He also wondered about the questions I asked, and I didn't know the answer, so I asked.

I admit when I typed the email asking this question, I paused before hitting send because I thought people would chastise “OP” for using the library and not buying the books instead. Glad to know I got a soapbox of a different kind =)

I love my library. Thanks for answering my question.

S.D.King said...


The link you found is to the right story, but strangely, it is not exactly the right story! Subtle word and structure changes. . .for example the story you found uses "carriage," while my version uses "car." No idea what that is about.

Bottom line, at the end he wants to go to the library and handle all the books.

Thanks for finding that. My copy says copyright in 1948, renewed by Ray Bradbury in 1975. Maybe he made the changes then.

Christina Seine said...

Oh this post has me smiling! I too adore libraries! They were my lifeline as a lonely kid from a troubled home. We moved around a lot. And I never realized this before, but almost always, the first friend I made in any new town was almost always the librarian. I lived for libraries so much during my wild and reckless youth that in my last year or two of high school I ditched probably half my classes. If anyone had looked for me, of course, they would have found me hunkered down between the last two shelves - there was a window that provided good light for reading, and no one seemed to notice if I brought an apple or banana and stayed through lunch. I assume, looking back, that all my teachers knew where I was (the librarian was practically a teacher and therefore One of Them), but I got pretty good grades so they let it go.

Thank God for libraries! And it's neat to see that so many of this blog family are librarians. I've always seen you guys as a sort of mystical gatekeepers - a secret society of literary knights, if you will.

Dana, I've heard of those two women you mentioned. I can't remember though if they were famous roller derby queens or punk band singers. ;)

Donnaeve said...

Good question, Dena.

My husband and I are "Friends Of The Library." My book club also has a little garden "spot" maintained near one side of the building, and by that, I mean some of us have planted flowers, mulched, and there's a nice little sign that says, "Donated by Thursday Afternoon Book Club."

I didn't know how libraries came by their books - i.e. buying them - and so now I suppose it won't seem weird if someone is published and says, "I can't wait to see my book in the library!"

Slightly off topic. (Ha, imagine)

After yesterday's scintillating and robust discussion, it's almost like a subliminal message we get the LIBRARY as our topic du jour for today. Almost like a "Shhhhhhhh. Quiet down."

Except, I'm sure QOTKU isn't implying that at all. That's just how my head works.

Michael Seese said...

As Amanda said, I've donated some of my comp copies to the local library. I figure it can't hurt to get them in readers' hands.

PS: I am NOT a tax attorney; but *I* wrote off the donation on my taxes.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I was going through Any Soldier listings earlier, because I really do need to clear out some of these books and one allied US/Nato group requested books, crayons, and color books. This makes me inordinately happy. I still have some pages my father colored in the nursing home that are gorgeous.

Coloring is good therapy. Sage nod.

Kate Larkindale said...

I love the library. I go at least every 2-3 weeks and check out books, and when I have a free day I love to go and write there. I'm constantly amazed how quickly new books I hear about make it onto the shelves considering we're on the other side of the earth.

I've managed to make both my kids library nerds too. In fact, I'm pretty sure they're going to ask me to go this morning since their school holidays have just started.

Eileen said...

Growing up I used to run my fingers along the library shelves, locate where my then unwritten future novels would go and then I would shove the books off to either side making a little room. I felt by making real space I was willing those books into being. Now when I see my real books on the shelves it still gives me a thrill.

In Canada there is the Public Lending Commission that allows authors to get a yearly check based on the number of their books that are in libraries as a way to make up for the missed royalties by books being checked out versus purchased in a bookstore. It is a beautiful day when the PLC checks arrive.

bjmuntain said...

In Canada, we have a program called the Public Lending Right program, which helps to offset any loss an author might incur when books are loaned from libraries.

More information in their FAQ

I lived in small towns growing up, and in most of them the libraries were quite limited. Still, I always found books to read. I read adventure books then. I didn't discover science fiction until high school. The library in the town I went to high school in was in the basement of the town hall at the time, and was kind of dark and dank. I understand it's moved since then, but I've never been back. Luckily, we had a pretty good library with a pretty smart librarian in high school, and there were always good books to try there. I also worked in there (I was the librarian's pet) so I got to read in there when the library was officially closed.

I didn't even know bookstores existed until I moved to a city after high school. I mean, I'd *heard* of them, but they were like fantasy elements to me - much the way the entire US was to me back then. My first year of university, there was a second-hand book store right across the street from the university. That blew my mind. And my pocketbook. Before then, I'd only seen the paperbacks stocked by the local convenience stores and pharmacies. Usually romances, which I was not interested in, but sometimes they would have one or two adventure stories. That was also where I bought my comic books.

Asking a library to buy your book (as in, getting people to ask for it so they do buy it) is more reliable than even donating a copy. That's because a lot of donated books don't even make it to the shelves. If it's not considered worthwhile, it will just get sold at the next second-hand book sale the library has. I know that's the way it is in Canada, and I believe it's the same way in the US. If you want to donate a book, it's always a good idea to ask them if they want it first. They have a limited amount of shelf space. New books in means they have to take other books out (this is called weeding - I'm sure all the library folk here know the term). So if you really want a book in a library, it's best to ask them to buy it.

I used to work in the interlibrary loans department of our provincial library - which, at that time, handled all the interlibrary loans for the province. I later moved to the cataloguing department, where we catalogued books for all the regional libraries. I don't know what's left of the provincial library now, after a bunch of bureaucratic cuts and moves. I'm pretty sure it has a very limited selection and provides far fewer services now. It dropped services and went all 'making policy' in the 90s.

I've been to the Vancouver, British Columbia, area a number of times for the Surrey conference. I've never been south of the border there. I'm supposed to go to a workshop in Seattle in a few weeks, but finances have changed, so I may have to drop out. Part of my plans were to spend nearly a week around Portland with a good friend (and critique partner) of mine who lives around there. I was looking forward to it. It looks like a lovely area. My friend had the Portland Powell's on our list of places to visit.

ReCaptcha wanted me to choose steak. And one picture was of a rack of dirty running shoes. I mean, yes, my mum used to cook steak of that texture and taste, but still...

bjmuntain said...

Eileen - sorry, I didn't see your post before I took a half hour to write up my thesis there. I hope the link is useful for you.

I do the same thing in the local Chapters: I go to the science fiction section, find my place (usually between the Ms and the Ns) and put my hand in that spot. I find it encouraging.

Amanda Capper said...

I have never heard of PLR! Thank you, Eileen and BJ, I had no idea. Just checked it out and I meet the requirements so, come Feb. 15, 2016, I will be registering.

I love Canada. Most of the time.

Adib Khorram said...

I must also jump on the bandwagon. I LOVE my library. I read about ten books a month. If I bought them all I would have no money for wine.

Incidentally, I LOVE Seattle's Public Library, even if the Red Floor is a little on the creepy side.

Come to think of it, a story set in the Seattle Public Library would be brilliant. Maybe a YA horror/thriller. Note to self...

Elissa M said...

I, too, grew up using libraries. My mom was trying to raise us four kids on my father's active duty pay, and anything that stretched the budget was welcome. We were all voracious readers. My sister is a librarian now.

Our little village has a library located in the old train depot. It's not a big building, but it's usable. A local woodworker built and donated the shelving. My husband goes there a lot. While I love libraries (and am not the least bit phobic about the books), these days I've been trying to buy new books as often as I can. I want to support my fellow writers.

bjmuntain said...

Yay Amanda! So glad to help.

John Frain said...


Is it wrong to say I want to live in your house when I don't even know you? Alas, I'll just dream it instead. When I picture bookshelves stretching across the room window to window, it's like playing a game of fantasy real estate.

b-Nye said...

Okay, now I'm a little confused. I thought there was a publishing house that only published books for library sales. I recently had a beta reader of mine publish with one 14 months from Ms to book jacket.
So, no?

Amy Schaefer said...

I miss the library. When I was small, my mom walked us to the library at least three times a week. I never lost the habit. My girls got library cards as soon as they could print their names, and I still carry them in my wallet (even though my home library is 8800 miles away.)

In the absence of a "real" library as we sail around, my kids have developed their own library strategies. When there is a library in town, we visit it. If they can get a visitor's card, they do. They borrow books from friends and neighbours, and always return them in perfect condition the next day. And, when all else fails, they turn their bedroom into a library, and play at borrowing books from each other. (Sometimes they pinch my books for the adult section, and I am instructed to visit their library to borrow them back.)

Switching gears, I love that you mentioned Kon-Tiki. When we sailed to French Polynesia in 2012, we made a point of spending a few days visiting the remote island in Raroia that Heyerdahl and crew first landed on after their Pacific crossing. My husband had loved reading Kon-Tiki as a kid, so he was geeking out pretty hard to be there. Best of all, we celebrated my daughter's fourth birthday on the beach. Good memories.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Some trips to the library are better than others.

CynthiaMc said...

John - clearly this house was designed by a booklover. It's my favorite room.

I remember reading KonTiki - it was on the bookshelf in back of one of my classrooms. I don't remember what I was supposed to be learning, but I do remember that book.

Amanda Capper said...

Wonderful stuff I learned today. Plus a Calvin cartoon! Thanks, Julie. I miss him so.

SiSi said...

Libraries seemed like magical places when I was a child. You could walk in, pick out all the books you could carry, and walk out with them for free! I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful. Now I'm lucky to live in a town with a wonderful library. As a bonus they also have a huge selection of DVDs and CDs and artwork to borrow along with the books. And the main branch is walking distance from my house. Still feels magical.

Lance said...

Growing up, the bookmobile came to school every two weeks. Big event for me. Ms. Liggins knew what I liked and brought some great science fiction. I've been a library nerd ever since. Great topic. Some of the insights into behind-the-scenes at the library were great.

AJ Blythe said...

Dena, not sure how it works in the USA, but in Australia the libraries are local government operated. However, the payment to authors is a federal government initiative (Attorney-Generals Dept) to recognise income lost through free multiple use of the author's book.

You have to register each year I believe.

bjmuntain said...


While it's possible there are publishers that publish in 'library binding', I honestly don't think they would do any aquiring. I would think that regular publishers would deal with getting their books done in library binding. (Basically, library binding is just a stronger binding, because library books are used much more than most.)

I would definitely do more research into a publisher that *only* published books for library sales. Unless it's a niche publisher, non-fiction? While libraries are wonderful, and getting your book in libraries is great, selling books ONLY to libraries seems very limiting.

If it *is* a niche non-fiction book, that's different. Reference books? Definitely. But not fiction or popular non-fiction. Or... I'm not sure where you are, exactly. It may be different in non-North American markets.

I'd be interested if anyone else knows anything about this.

NotJana said...

We didn't have a library in my school but that didn't stop our teachers to take us to the one down the road. I never talked much to the librarians - I'm as much a lurker in real life than I am here - but I devoured the books on offer.

Libraries became even more important when I went to study abroad for a year - to study for my degree and to improve my English. On a side note, Glasgow, Scotland, is an … interesting place to learn English. It is a fun conversation starter and good for a few giggles, though. Anyway, packing light, I didn't have space for books when I moved there. I missed them. So I joined the local library. I took me and my trusty dictionary 2 months to finish reading that first novel (John Grisham, The Firm). But I've never looked back since. As my reading speed improved massively, so did my English.

Grammar is an entirely different matter, though. Rules - language independent - may get lost in the deepest parts of the labyrinth I call my brain, never to be found again, but the more I read, the better my feeling for English grammar became. I stopped using three different tenses in the same sentence, Kept swearing at the evilness that are prepositions. I (mostly) conquered the latter through a kind soul beta-reading some of my fan fiction stuff. But, in any case, libraries played a huge impact in me becoming fluent in a second language.

I don't have a library card at the moment - I know, I know - but that's mostly because I can't stop buying books. They are just so pretty! And add a lot of colour to my rented accommodation. And Janet's recommending all those good books too. I'm reading slower than I'd like, so it'll be a while until I'm out of reading material at home. But when it comes to libraries, I'll be back!

Also, while reading all the comments, I've realised they combine two of Janet's often repeated phrases of things for writers to do quite nicely:

Read, read and read.
Show, don't tell.

Step 1 - write anything: completed
Steps 2+3 - fan fiction, finish novel length stories: completed
Step 4 - finish novel(s), crappy or otherwise: completed
Step 5 - edit novel(s) and be less wordy: procrastinating
Step 6 - go back to 4 & 5, rinse and repeat: succeeding in 4, failing in 5
Step 7 - stop making lists and do 5: LOL

b-Nye said...

Friend just picked up by publisher, primarily library sales. Five Star Pub. 14 months from acquisition to book in hand. A first time novel, mystery thriller. Lowest possible four figure advance. She went to a conference in Orlando, paid for time and got deal. Not for me, but thought there would be talk about that niche.