Awhile ago, I discussed a recent NY Times article about self publishing. If interested in the article itself, you can read it here.
I’d like to return to it for a moment, not for its content, but one quote in particular that got me thinking:
“Your rabid romance reader who was buying $100 worth of books a week and funneling $5,200 into Amazon per year is now generating less than $120 a year,” she said. “The revenue is just lost. That doesn’t work well for Amazon or the writers.”
– Quote from Author H.M. Ward, in NY Times Article by David Streitfeld, “Amazon Offers All You Can Eat Books, Dec. 27, 2014
Question – Are there really people spending upwards of $5,000 a year on ebooks? If there are, well, I suppose that’s great for authors, whether they be self-published or traditional. If a reader has that kind of money to spend and the books make them happy, then God bless them for their patronage.
Many readers don’t have that kind of money to burn. Despite claims that libraries are becoming more and more obsolete and may be going the way of the Dodo (though I hope not, wouldn’t that be sad?), I like to borrow books from my local library and find that to be a cheap (heck, free!) way to supplement my reading habit. And after I’ve discovered an author by getting his or her book from the library, if later I have a few bucks to spare, I might see they have a new title available for digital download and will say to myself, “Oh what the hell, why wait? Just pay the few bucks and enjoy reading it now.”
What is the role of the library when it comes to the publishing industry? In practice, libraries do lend out copies of copyrighted works for free and people who borrow free books aren’t sending any money the author’s way. Yet, we literary lovers tend to also be library lovers. Heck (I feel like I’ve used that word too much in this post), most of us probably first began our love affair with the English language in a library. So, authors, publishers, literary nerds of all kinds – we support libraries, at least, I do – I think most of us do, don’t we?
Question – Are there ways for self publishing Indie authors to get their books to libraries? Maybe an indie author, if he or she has the money, could produce several copies and donate them to libraries. Although, that could be a problem in and of itself. Often times, people bring books donations to libraries and are shocked to find that the library can’t use them – for whatever reason. Sometimes the books are old and outdated, sometimes a library just won’t have the shelf space. Indie Authors might try to donate their books only to receive polite responses from librarians of “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Still, I wonder if this isn’t an avenue that self-publishers should look at. People who love books but don’t have $5,000 a year to spend on them might read a self-published book through a library, get hooked, and maybe then spend a respectable $50 bucks a year on books, which, ok, no one’s going to celebrate that until we think $50 X a large segment of the book reading population.
What say you, reader? Are traditional lending libraries an option that self publishers should look into?