Miss Snark Reprimanded by Snarkling!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love your blog. But I have one small pet peeve to pick with you. You often refer to books and suggest that your readers pick them up at the library. Isn't that a little like someone in the music industry telling people to steal all their music off the internet?

For current books, I'm of the opinion that writers (and their publishers and agents) deserve all the support they can get. If a book is worth recommending -- worth someone spending eight or ten hours with -- it's worth the twenty bucks.

That way, writers get paid for all their hard work (as do agents), and publishers decide, hey, maybe this author's next book is worth publishing as well.

Go to the library for research -- for older books -- for peace and quiet. But for new books, put your money where your mouth is.

Yours in snarkiness...

That's telling Miss Snark isn't it!

Actually it's a good question: why would any literary agent worth her salt, and looking at her bank balance, tell you to get a book at the library instead of shelling out dough for it.

Here's a fact I want you to hold close to your bosom: library sales are non-returnable.
Returns are the plague of this industry. They account for 1/4 to 1/3 of the retail cost of a hardcover. The ONLY people who make dough on that business model are the printers and the Teamsters. While I don't want to end up sleeping under the Meadowlands with Jimmy Hoffa, it's also not my job to enrich the truck drivers of America.

Second, libraries buy early, they buy in hard cover and they buy multiple copies. Miss Snark adores all those things.

Third, writers have enough expenses without buying hardcover books BEFORE they've read them at the library to see if the book is something they want to add to their collection.

Last, and most important I believe libraries are the foundation of democracy. Supporting them supports giving people who DON'T have the money to buy books at all the chance to read.

I love libraries. I encourage everyone to use them and make sure the books you want are there at all times. The more you read, the more you buy. That’s an absolute truism of marketing.


Kitty said...

Nice save, Miss Snark!

Gina Black said...


KMFrontain said...

Funny that you were scolded for suggesting the use of libraries as a source for finding a pleasant read. I would love to have my series in a library, but since it's not, I put up two of the books as free reads on the web. So I'm being the library, so to speak. No author should turn his or her nose up at having his/her book in the library. A reader forks out enough money just to get by. They should never have to fork out money to see if a writer is any good. A library is perfect for checking a writer out before opening the billfold and spilling out an hour's worth of wages and more. Books are for entertaining, and we shouldn't then look at them sitting on our shelf and groan that we wasted our money on a bad one.

K.M. Frontain

Ira Rosofsky said...

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are 9,000 public libraries and 3,700 college libraries. There are thousands more public school libraries. Sales to them would yield not inconsiderable royalties to an author.

Allison said...

Thank you for this - I sometimes feel guilty for not buying all the books I read because I want to support the artists, but I simply can't afford to do so, and I believe the public library system is one of the great innovations of the last...um....while. Hundred years? A long time, anyway. So I appreciate hearing from someone in the industry that you too think libraries rock.

roach said...

I grew up in the middle of Wyoming and the closest bookstore (real honest to goodness bookstore, not just the book and magazine section in the grocery store) was 90 miles away. Not having a lot of spending cash of my own and with Amazon.com still years away I depended on the library for reading material.

Because of this, I still get quite a bit of my reading material from the library, even though I now live near Chicago and have several bookstores within a couple of miles. I'm still on a tight budget so book money is saved for the can't live without books.

Bernita said...

Oh fiddle.
Why must it always be an either/or?
And with the narrow whiff of immorality attached to boot?
If you do "this" then you are condoning/causing "that" in some impure way.
I'm sure the publishing industry is not going to collapse and some author's ratings fail because Miss Snark recommends checking out a book in the library first.
I love libraries. When I was growing up in the backwoods, the central library had a summer program whereby any student could send in for books and when they were returned, request two more. The library paid the postage.
It was wonderful - otherwise I might have been so starved I would have ended up marrying some neighbouring yokel rather than determined to go to university.

Maria said...

Libraries are gold. They are an incredible marketing tool, and a huge resource. Where else do you get to market directly to a group of people interested in your product? Almost exclusively it is readers that go into libraries. The audience comes to the market. "Sales" that of a reader trying the product, are almost guaranteed. Since word of mouth is the biggest seller of books, libraries, by default, play a big part.

occasional_anonymous said...

Libraries are legal. Borrowing books from libraries is legal. Uploading copyright material to a server without the owner's permission and making it available to anyone and everyone, on the other hand...

...oh, wait, we weren't talking about Google Print, were we?

Bonnie, Of the Multitude of Snarklings said...

I often submit requests to my library for books they don't have on their shelves. I used to feel a bit guilty about it, but now I see I was helping out the author! Hooray!

Also: My two favorite sources to discover new authors: the library and short story magazines/anthologies.

KMFrontain said...

I want Google print to work! If they keep their hands off copyrighted material that they have no permission to touch, then they are still a valuable media for anyone that agrees to have the exposure. I'm waiting for two books to go "live" with them. But I think the guys at Google are sitting on their hands so they don't commit another big oops.

VM said...

You've got to be a Virgo.

occasional_anonymous said...

Judging by the reports I've had from writers whose books have been scanned and made available without their consent (and far beyond even the most generous interpretation of 'fair use', ie up to page one hundred and something), Google Print has been deeply flawed in its execution. Maybe it can recover to become a useful tool for both readers and writers.

I'm not holding my breath.

Elektra said...

Ever been to bibliomania.com? It's a great resource that has full online text of pretty much any classic in the public domain.

KMFrontain said...

I'm more interested in places like Memoware. That site will take a submitted pdf file, decide if it fits their criteria, and then permit their users to download it. Great place to look for new as well as old. Nice big virtual library.