Will They Ever Get A Clue?

I read a comment over at Dear Author (I love this website!) and I felt my blood pressure rise.  I don’t understand why publishers think so poorly of their customers.  It appears that publishers don’t look at library patrons as book buyers.  Wait – what?? 

Now, of course I can only speak for myself, but I use the snot out of the library.  In a good week, I read about ten books.  In  a bad week, I probably read 6.  That’s a lot, especially when they average ten bucks a pop.  Sorry, but I don’t make enough to support a book addiction of that magnitude, and keep a roof over my head.  So I find myself relying on the library to help supplement my book diet.  It helps me discover new authors to drop my money on later, and allows me to experiment with new genres or writing styles.  The library got me hooked on YA novels, and now I can’t get enough of them. 

There isn’t a bookstore near me, so I browse the library shelves, randomly checking out a title here and there.  This is how I discovered Kimberly Pauley, Kat Falls, and Binky the Space Cat.  This how I discovered steampunk, vampire teens, and faeries.  I also rediscovered picture books, which has blossomed into a guilty pleasure.  I like to raid the new picture book shelf, and I have spent an embarrassing amount of time in kids’ wing, perusing all of the picture book goodness.

When I was a kid, I loved the library, too.  I was too young for a job, and my parents couldn’t afford to keep me stocked with new books to read.  The library is directly responsible for my enjoyment of books.  If it wasn’t for the library, I would have turned to video games or TV for my entertainment, and I don’t know if I would have gone back to reading for pleasure as my main way to spend my leisure hours.

So, Publishers, please think before you stick your foot in your mouth.  If you truly believe that library patrons aren’t book buyers, you need to re-evaluate your market research.  I bought five books last week.  I also checked four books out of the library.  I purchase as many books as my budget will allow, and with the crappy economy, my discretionary dollars don’t stretch as far as they used to.  The price of books, and everything else, keeps going up, but my income hasn’t increased in years.  Books are a luxury, especially with the continuing turbulence in the job market.

So, Readers, what do you think?  Are library patrons a Publisher’s Worst Nightmare?  Do you use the library? Do you still buy books?

Here are links to two great posts, and you should hop over and read them, especially the thoughtful comments on each:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Dear Author

What got this particular web-drama ball rolling?  HarperCollins has decided to put limits on digital lending.  Guess my library will never get into digital game, because they won’t be able to afford to play with the new restrictions introduced by the pubs.

3 thoughts on “Will They Ever Get A Clue?

  • February 26, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I read about some of that on Twitter last night–thanks for the links so I could read more.

    Personally, I think the publishers are making a big mistake in underestimating the power of the library. I’m with you–the library’s where I discovered most of my favorite authors and, because I loved their work, I BOUGHT it. The big pubs just don’t seem to understand this whole new digital world, especially in regards to libraries. They’re shooting themselves in the foot with this plan.

    The Book Swarm

  • February 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    They never, ever should ahve said that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my local library if they could get a particular book to put on the shelves. They have to buy the books they get, so there’s a sale right there. There are people that actually buy books for the library when they find out what books the patrons want to read. The library keeps a list of what books people would like to read so that they can buy it for the library.

    These people should really think before they open their mouths on a subject like this. I read anywhere from 40-60 books a month and I find new authors that I like and then go and buy their books and it’s all because of the library.

  • February 27, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I really liked reading this post, it was really interesting. Your so right. I am a student with no job so I basically go to the library for 95% of my books and if I really like a book I put it on a list so I can buy it in the future. Libraries are the place to discover books and authors. There are so many authors/ books I would have never read if not for my browsing of the library or the library recommendations. It appears they really don’t know much about how and why people buy books.

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