So I’ve chosen a cranky title for this post, because it makes me cranky. Terry Deary, author of the (admittedly awesome) Horrible Histories books, is complaining about public libraries allowing people to read books at the expense of authors:
“Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that,” said Deary
I think his use of the word ‘entitlement’ is ironic here.
Look, I agree libraries are shifting in focus – certainly going to a library to do research is becoming an antiquated concept. However, reading fiction books from libraries is a fundamentally useful thing. I can’t help but feel that Terry sounds like a libertarian complaining about having to pay tax: he has benefited from people becoming readers on the back of library access, but now that he has his success he doesn’t want to have to contribute to the society that enabled his success.
I don’t want to get too reactionary, but…shut the fuck up, Terry.
Let me make a stand here: No writer deserves to be paid for their work. Being paid to make art instead of toiling in the fields is a goddamn privilege of civilisation. It’s an amazing privilege for which we authors should drop to our knees and give praise every – single – fucking – day.
If you forget that for even one minute, you’ll turn out like Terry.
Read it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/13/libraries-horrible-histories-terry-deary?INTCMP=SRCH
Jane Little writes at Dear Author about her experience watching large sporting companies sponsor athletes. She makes an argument that publishers should similarly invest in libraries:
When you get a group of readers in a room, nearly every one of them will recount how their reading either started at a library or was fostered by a library. One of the slides from Bowker that I saw at BEA was that for individuals who have adopted a tablet, the number one thing that activities on the tablet have replaced is reading. Tablet adoption is on the rise and by 2015, tablet sales will exceed the number of PCs currently sold. Why is this troublesome for the book market? Because the biggest threat to publishing isn’t Amazon. It’s Angry Birds.
Link here: http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/the-biggest-threat-to-publishing-isnt-amazon-its-angry-birds-why-publishers-should-invest-in-libraries/
Jill Harness over at Mental Floss Magazine posts an article with amazing pictures of Europe’s most beautiful libraries here. Maybe it’ll inspire your own humble in-home library design?
15 Spectacular Libraries in Europe: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/124742
This relates a little to the walled-garden post from yesterday, in so far as DRM is being used to impose constraints. Digital libraries by their very nature require a control mechanism to prevent ebooks on loan from being copied by a library’s patrons, and publishers are using this to impose lending fees and restrictions which are causing concerns among librarians:
There has been much controversy lately around e-book lending at libraries. Pricing, lending policies, digital rights management and relationships between distributors and sellers are all issues on the table. (Here’s a good review of the situation from our own resident library expert Barbara Galletly.)
Jeremy Greenfield links to a few related articles in this post, and if digital libraries are of interest to you, check them out: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/librarians-talk-of-abandoning-e-books/
If you want something more light-hearted, have a look at this video from March last year, comparing HarperCollins’s then new ’26 checkout’ ebook expiration license:
We ask the question, What does wear and tear look like on a print book? Is 26 checkouts a realistic standard to apply to ebooks?
Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je90XRRrruM