The Library Threat

A short while ago, Smashwords began offering libraries the option to buy eBooks, and allowing authors to set a separate price for libraries. My immediate thought was, “Wow, that’s awesome!”

I made my books free to libraries on the spot.Sengkang Community Library

I love the library. One of my earliest memories is of the library in the strip mall next to where my mom worked when I was in grade school. Sometimes I would have to go to work with her, and the library was a blessing during the long hours I had to entertain myself. I’ve discovered many of my favorite authors through the library. I’m thrilled that Botanicaust is offered at 3 libraries at the time of this post. I hope more will pick it up.

Smashwords also offers the option for authors to charge libraries more for their published works. Charge the library more? Our local library is struggling to maintain hours because of budget cuts as it is. Libraries are public service institutions, serving people regardless of race, income, political belief, or religion. My daughter volunteers at the library. Libraries are about community, and service, and education. I want to be a part of that.

Yet I just read this article at the Book View Cafe and learned that some publishers do want to charge more. Or not offer books at all. Or charge library users to borrow the book. Or limit downloads. Do they really fear libraries will cut into their sales? I can’t tell the number of times I’ve discovered an author through the library and then purchased several titles to call my own. Sometimes my checkout time on an eBook has expired before I could finish reading (I’m a slow reader) and I purchased the book rather than get back in the queue for a turn.

Libraries are not a threat. They allow me to discover new authors, much like Amazon is doing with their free reads and borrowing program. Amazon is smart. Pay attention, publishers. Libraries encourage me to buy books. Some may even consider them a marketing device. I plan on always offering my eBooks to libraries for free if I can. Thank you Smashwords.


12 thoughts on “The Library Threat

  1. Tiffinie Helmer

    I love libraries. They kept me sane as a child. I’ve discovered so many authors at the library, I couldn’t even tell you. Great post. And that’s wonderful what Smashwords is doing.

    1. DeNise

      Libraries are in the same flux that epublishing has caused in the rest of the business. As readers and especially as writers we must protect libraries. Thanks for this post.

  2. valerierlawson

    i don’t use libraries as much now as i did when i was a kid, but back then they were my refuge. i could get lost in them for hours. librarians are some of our biggest advocates! how could writers not want to support libraries? well, that’s like children’s writers who don’t like kids..i don’t understand them, but they are out there.

    1. Tam Linsey Post author

      I don’t READ as much as I did when I was a kid – lol! So yes, I use the library less, too. That doggone real life grownup stuff keeps getting in the way.

  3. Scott VanKirk

    I have to admit that when it comes to e-books, my library does probably impact my buying habits. I just find that I cannot bring myself to spend $10 or more on an e-book, so I wait for it to come out at the library. These days with so many inexpensive e-books coming out I don’t wait on the edge of my seat for a new book by my favorite author like I used to. I’m willing to wait for the library to carry it and then get in the 5 person plus borrowing queue to get my chance.

  4. Tam Linsey Post author

    Scott, that is very true, and something publishers also need to be aware of. So many big pub houses overprice eBooks, and thereby decrease their sales. Indie authors are allowing readers access to more books because we are pricing our work reasonably. Botanicaust is only $2.99 in digital format. My paperback costs much more because of materials, printing, and shipping (I make less profit on my paperback version than I do on my eBook.) Publishers need to get it out of their heads that the “price of a book” should equal across the various formats.
    I see people in the future only wanting hard copy books for their “keeper shelf.” Who wants to store or dispose of a book you will never read again?

  5. livrancourt

    If you look for it, you can find a video (blog post?) of Neil Gaiman talking about how much libraries and pirated copies of his books have helped him. I’m with you, Tam. Having my books in the library would only help me in the long run, and libraries are struggling, so why not make it easy on them.


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