In Praise of Libraries
There are a lot of authors who get mad when they hear readers are getting their books from libraries instead of buying them. I've actually heard of authors chastizing readers who don't buy books. I'm not one of those authors. As an author I want my books to be read. What better way to build an audience than by utilizing the library. Libraries are an overlooked commodity by a lot of authors. Some of us are so busy scheduling signings and events in bookstores and at conventions that the local public library gets overlooked. Many libraries are actively looking for authors to come speak and often have budgets to pay a small stipend.
Another thing that authors need to keep in mind is that libraries buy our books. We get royalties on those sales, too. And unless the books are received damaged, libraries don't return them like bookstores do. Books have a much longer shelf life in a library than in a book store. Many readers start off reading a book by a particular author and liking them so well that they start purchasing the author's future books. Librarians are also great advocates for suggesting books to patrons and suggesting books for the library to purchase.
I wasn't able to attend BEA this year but according to Shelf Awareness there was an excellent panel on the impact of libraries on publishing. During the panel, panelist Nora Rawlinson, v-p of library services at Hachette Book Group and one-time librarian at the Baltimore County Public Library, cited a recent Library Journal poll that found library budgets have recently increased by 44%. Libraries have the potential to be "the next Book Sense," she added, "the next big promotion vehicle for new titles."
Other great points brought up on the panel were:
• Libraries have a significant impact on categories where sales typically aren't high, such as first novels and genre fiction.
• The trade paperback format has "transformed how libraries buy," Jenko said. "We use them until they fall apart and then we're going to buy more." She noted that libraries are buying an increased number of trade paperback originals.
• Librarians need title information 8-10 months in advance of publication. For new books in a series, it's beneficial to know as soon as a book is signed up, as patrons regularly inquire when the next book is coming. Advance reading copies are beneficial for librarians to have.
• Many libraries have readers advisors, a key person to receive information about new and forthcoming titles.
So, authors don't overlook the library. I don't do a lot of bookstore signings. But I've done library events and they've been by far my most successful and well attended events.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
In Praise of Libraries