Thursday, March 27, 2008

Never Yell "Free Books" at a Library Conference

Because when you do, you sign a box of books in about fifteen minutes.

Today was the second day of the Public Library Association's Trade Show and Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It was... ginormous. The Romance Writers of America sponsored a booth there with FREE BOOKS for conference participants, and I just had one of those rare moments in an author's life -- there was a queue around the corner for a copy of my book.

I noticed that the only authors doing give-aways at RWA's booth were local people, and I don't get that. I was ready to fly when I first saw the conference booth mentioned in the RWA Report. A chance to put my book in front of librarians! Heck yeah!

I don't know why any author would object to library sales. Sure, your books get into the hands of readers for free which ostensibly doesn't net you any royalties (although the library does purchase at least one copy of your book). However, my experience as a reader is that "free books" usually translate into eventual sales. I've purchased books from authors that I first discovered on the shelves of the library. It seems to me that given how quickly books disappear from the shelves at the bookstore (you really only have about two weeks before the books get stripped and returned to the publisher), that libraries do authors a great service by providing a place for their books to be "discovered" months and even YEARS after their initial shelf date.

Viva La Library!


paul lamb said...

I recall reading a post on another blog by a writer who was really angry about readers getting his books from the library. For him it was all about sales and apparently not one bit about reading.

Lynne said...

Library sales actually DO drive sales in the box stores. If they didn't, why would RWA bother with a booth at library conventions, hmm?

I have taken many an author for a test-drive through my local library before being smitten and buying the entire back catalog.

I doubt that I'm alone.

Of course, being a librarian, I MAY be biased...after all, keeping books and archives alive for the future is what I do... *ahem*

Eleanor said...

I discoverd Terry Pratchett at the library and now buy his books in hardcover the moment I see them. I think this is typical. Books, even mass market paperbacks, are too expensive for me to buy a book by someone I know nothing about.

I do support the English system of paying royalties for books taken out of public libraries. I get one or two very modest checks from England every year for my father's textbook on modern art.