Why Authors Need Libraries

NYPL lion

Authors need libraries.  I’m saying this as a Librarian, not a published author, so there is a little bias there, but there is so much that public libraries can do for authors of either fiction or non-fiction.  Authors have talks and signing events at libraries, but even when they are not present, librarians are introducing author’s works with book clubs, recommendations, and by providing a browsing experience for readers.

Right now libraries are struggling to make publishers understand that we are not their enemy, but their friend.

Our library system uses Overdrive to loan e-books.  Many publishers refuse to distribute through Overdrive because they have a concern that readers will borrow instead of buy.  First, having great content available for free will influence people to become digital readers in the first place.  Second, readers will explore and discover new authors by borrowing, then buy other works by that author.  This is what the music industry has been doing for years by playing singles on the radio.  ITunes and Amazon have been giving away free MP3s with the same idea, to get new musicians heard. Overdrive puts DRM on the books, they disappear from the patron’s device in 21 days.  The publishers set their prices and terms with Overdrive, who doesn’t charge them for distribution.  I encourage all authors (especially the bestselling authors with influence) to ask their publishers to work with libraries.

So here’s one of our “regulars”, a person who reads about 5 books a week.  If we can convince her to become an e-consumer (some have an almost religious reverence for paper books), she will check out an e-book.  If she loves it, she will go and purchase the sequel, tell her friends to read it so they can discuss it with her, put reviews on sites like goodreads, pin a picture of the cover on Pinterest, mention it on her social media- in other words, viral advertising.  Now this person has decided that e-books are great and will continue to use them, both borrowed and purchased.

Publishers could pick and choose what books would be available through Overdrive.  They could sell their backlist to libraries so that readers could re-read old favorites on a new format.  They could sell just the first books of trilogies so that readers have to seek out the sequels. They could set up a delay for new books.  Anything is better than not participating at all, even the highly controversial lease method.  If anyone from a publishing company is reading this, Overdrive gave me the link for publishers to sign up with them- https://secure.contentreserve.com/publisher.asp.

6 Replies to “Why Authors Need Libraries”

  1. You bring up some very good points, Jane. Hopefully calmer heads will prevail & libraries will get the books anyway the patrons want them. E-books are not my favorite reading experience, but I do have an e-reader (nook). I generally look for the paper book, audiobook, then e-book.

    My nook was a life saver last semester when I found the perfect book for my final paper for a class, but could not find it in any local library, public or college. The e-book arrived instantly & I downloaded it (after driving to my local public library for their free wi-fi TYVM!). Paper saved!

  2. My wife Paula and I are hooked on Overdrive. We check out the maximum available for each of our Nooks. Also, Baen Books has many of their authors works available free electronically as a teaser. They find it works fairly well.


  3. Overdrive’s amazon experience is pretty good. however all this DRM is what is hurting the publishing industry the most. I own about 600 dollars of e-books from been and fiction wise, but 2 amazon books. Coincidence? I think not.

Leave a Reply