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.