Posts Tagged ‘book distribution’

I was in the library today, and it struck me: I could be here someday. This is an entire building devoted to what people like me have done. If there were no books, this building wouldn’t be here and we’d have another convenience store in its place. The only reason that didn’t happen is because enough writers made it so.

Is it any wonder, then, that writers have such big egos? (Ironically, they have lousy self-confidence. Go figure.) What other buildings are designed to hold only the kind of work someone does? Yes, you could argue that furniture stores and auto dealerships and Starbucks are devoted to someone’s work, but none of them is subsidized by the government. What other institution, public or private, is as widespread, and gives away all of its wares for free? And nobody ever stages a protest at City Hall because a Starbucks is going to be closed.

Libraries, on the other hand, are community icons. They form the basis for great universities. People set up little private lending institutions in shelters outside their houses. I’ve even seen Starbucks that have little libraries. Libraries are everywhere, they are very important, and they are only there because of writers.

It’s an awesome responsibility. We bear the weight of civilization on our shoulders, because all of our knowledge is contained in our libraries, and all of our libraries are dependent on our writers.

(And yet we get paid lousy wages. You’d think we were teachers or something equally useless.)*

Writers are always looking for ways to get on bookstore shelves, but I think they would be better off focusing on getting on library shelves. Barnes & Noble will move your book after a few weeks; a library will keep your book until the cover falls off. The bookstore can sell as many copies as it orders, which probably won’t be many, and they don’t have to re-order. The library can loan out your book dozens or hundreds of times.

So get out, go to a library, and imagine how cool it would be to be supported by¬†an entire branch of government dedicated solely to making work like yours available to everyone. Forever. For free. See if that doesn’t perk up the old ego.

And while you’re there, donate a few used copies of books to the Friends of the Library. They can even be yours. Every little bit helps.

*Yes, I’m kidding. Without teachers there are no readers or writers. English teachers, anyway. Math teachers I’m not so sure about.



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