Don't diss the library!

Friday, February 15, 2013

| | |
I caught this article today thanks to one of my friends on FB. Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories series, has publicly denounced the need for libraries in modern times. And his reason is arrogant, demeaning to both the public and his fellow authors, and woefully short-sighted and selfish.

This author seriously needs to recheck his priorities. Not to mention getting a reality check, since he seems to assume everyone knows who he is. I hadn't. Now I do. And he just lost any chance he'd have had for me to pick up his books. I don't intend to support someone who is so money-minded that he will trash the institutions that nurture children's need for books. And not just children, but people of all ages.

Doesn't he understand that libraries are where people discover those books? If you don't know about a book, you can't buy it. There are too many books out there to discover the ones that will connect with you simply by browsing online stores. That's assuming that those people, especially children, even have regular access to the internet and permission to go to those sites, let alone having the time to spend on browsing. And brick-and-mortar bookstores don't have everything, nor are there as many physical stores as there used to be.

More books are published these days than even 20 years ago. So many new authors are out there now competing for our attention. A library is one place to go to find both new and older books. I've discovered so many books that I decided I had to buy for myself that I might never have stumbled across. It's easier to browse outside your usual interests or even for specialties of a current interest at a library. I was already doing crochet, but until I ran across a book on filet crochet a few years ago, I'd never heard of that technique. How could I have searched for something I didn't know existed? I ended up buying my own copy, because even after checking it out twice, I still wanted it on hand.

Even if you find a book at a store, if you have limited means to purchase and then store said book, it is often better to be able to read it first. Then if the book is helpful or gives you enough enjoyment that you want to read it whenever you feel like it, then the money spent on it will be worthwhile. The number of times I bought a book on a risk and then realized it was meh, at least to me, well, I could have better spent that money on the books I already knew I loved. I don't have money to waste on books that I don't love or need even though I'm not a kid anymore, dependent on mom/dad to give me spending money. I still buy books I haven't already read, but at least when it comes to novels, I prefer to read them first unless I know the author or have recommendations from people I trust to have comparable tastes to mine.

There are still books I want that I haven't bought yet. Don't have room for one thing, and I don't have as much money as I'd like for the other. Libraries support me in the meantime. But there is no way I am going to support an author who is so fixated on short term personal financial gain that he will slam the very institutions that might lead children (or adults like me) to buying his books at all. His books might be totally awesome. I don't know. But I will now never read them.

This is the modern age. Reputation on a personal level has much greater weight now. Readers look to see what their favorite authors are like outside their books. The ones who connect with their readers create such loyalty that readers will buy their books even if the books aren't totally amazing on their own. Authors who care more about how much money they are making are going to find that it will hurt their sales. If I was running a library, I'd say, "Well if he dislikes us that much, we don't need to buy his new books anymore and put that money to these books by this other author who doesn't slam us or our readers." And I'd be tempted to pull all current titles out of circulation. I'd certainly inform parents about the author's attitude. I don't know about libraries over there, but around here, libraries have community support, some have had huge support. You just don't diss the library without repercussions.

As for me, I won't be buying his books, and I'll suggest to my local library that they don't either. If he dislikes libraries that much, they can spend their money on cooler and nicer authors instead. I have a list.


Indigo Roth said...

Hey Jaleh! This was a terrific piece, thank you. I've not stepped into a library in years, but as a kid, I lived in them. I hope they continue to be the institutions you describe. Indigo x

Jaleh D said...

Thanks, Indigo!

David P. King said...

I would be lost without my library. They are a sanctuary when I can't concentrate on an important scene. May they never go away. :)

Maggid said...

I admit - i didn't bother to read the linked story - i just read your terrific blog . . . I am SUCH a Library Fan . . . buy or not to buy?
All i know is the world is available to everyone - at the library.
Enjoy your blog,

Post a Comment