Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All Hail the Library

by Stephanie Black


Unlike Rob “I Hate All Mankind and Its Little Dog Too” Wells, I’ve always loved the library. Books! Lots of books! Free books! Or they would be free if I could manage to return them on time, but still, what a great system. You can walk through the doors, choose any book from off the shelves and take it home, no charge. Finish it and take it back and choose more books.

(Okay, I shouldn’t pick on Rob. Okay, I should pick on Rob, but not about this. I’m sure he loves the book part of the library. He just doesn’t like the chatty people part, testy misanthrope that he is).

As an author, I am thrilled to have my book available in libraries. I love the thought of readers checking out my book. In fact, I am delighted to report that as of this morning, all four copies of The Believer are currently checked out from the Provo City Library. That warms my little authorial heart. Just imagine it--my book was right there on the checkout counter, maybe sandwiched between the latest Mary Higgins Clark novel and David McCullough's 1776! Why did this reader choose my book? Did it catch her eye on the shelf? Did someone recommend it? Is she reading it right this minute? Does she like it? Will she look for more books by me?

(Raise your hand if you think I’m weird for sitting here in California looking up my book in Utah library catalogs.)

The library is a great boon to authors. Sure, we wish everyone would rush out and buy our books, but only a small percentage of potential fans are willing or able to drop $12 or $15 for a book by an unfamiliar author. The library gives readers a chance to sample our work. If they like it, they might be willing to shell out $15 for our next book. And even if they still prefer to borrow rather than buy, they might tell a friend or two about our book, and maybe one of those friends will buy it . . . and tell some more friends . . .and so on, until voila--sales numbers skyrocket. With every book that moves off a library shelf, there is the potential for a new fan, a new voice in the word-of-mouth buzz that is so vital to a book’s success.

Long live the library!

So here is the question for the day: have you ever purchased a book because you were introduced to that particular author through the library?


18 Comments:

At 10/03/2007 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many, many times! I love libraries, too!

 
At 10/03/2007 7:38 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

Oh, yes! For most of my life I would sample authors through the library, and if I really liked their style I would often buy ALL of their books.

 
At 10/03/2007 7:50 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I think it's weird that you think your book was sandwiched in between Mary Higgins Clark and David McCullough. It would be much more likely to be sandwiched between Dave Barry and Rita Mae Brown.

(Incidentally, I've looked for your book at the Orem library and been disappointed not to find it on the shelf.)

 
At 10/03/2007 8:11 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Jon--reserve the book and that will make me feel even more delighted!

The sandwiched comment referred to a pile of books on the checkout counter, not the shelf. I doubt most people check books out in alphabetical order unless they're planning to read the whole library ;)

Dave Barry is hilarious.

Hooray, Karen and Anon--that's what I was hoping to hear!

 
At 10/03/2007 8:49 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I absolutely HAVE purchased books that were first borrowed from a library. (Some on purpose, some because I owed so much on them in fines that I might as well buy them.)

My hometown had an honest-to-goodness Carnegie Library when I was growing up -- stained glass windows and everything! To this day it remains my idea of heaven on earth. My husband probably thinks I'm trying to replicate it in our family room. Hmm. Truth be told, I probably DO have almost as many books now as it had then...

Very terrific blog, Stephanie. Thanks! And whoo hoo about the Provo Library! Smart readers in Provo.

 
At 10/03/2007 9:46 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

To answer your question--many, many times, but then I spent twenty-one years as a librarian and when I discovered a really great book, I often rushed to the nearest bookstore or ordered the book through the library's vendors to give as birthday and Christmas gifts or just because I wanted the book for my own personal library. One of my neatest memories of the years I worked as a librarian was having someone walk up to the counter with one or more of my books to check out.

 
At 10/04/2007 12:27 AM, Anonymous Jen said...

Yes I have bought books that were first checked out from the city library or from the unofficial library at my sister's house. In fact now that I have to clean everything I don't like to have a lot of extra stuff around so I probably will not buy a book from an unknown author (or one that I am familiar with, but is hit and miss with me) if I have not already read the book and think that I will read it again numerous times.

 
At 10/04/2007 10:06 AM, Blogger Josi said...

Definately. the most recent was Wake Me When it's Over by that Well's guy. I checked it out, loved it, and bought it so I could read it again someday.

And how do you do the library thing? I actually live in Utah and have never done it. Lame.

 
At 10/04/2007 10:24 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Josi, I just Googled Utah libraries. You can find library websites and check catalogs online.

 
At 10/04/2007 1:05 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I nearly always read a book first from the library and then buy it. I'm careful in the books I buy, so if I'm gonna plunk down $15 for a book, I'd better be sure I'll like it.

However, there was this one exception when I met this author at a booksigning -- her name was Stephanie something or another and she was sitting next to Kerry Blair, one of my favorite authors, so I bought her book too. One of the best impulse purchases I've ever made. :)

 
At 10/04/2007 1:14 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

I totally check the libraries to see when my book is checked out. It's exciting to see when it is.

Jennie, when you were a librarian and someone checked your book out, what did you say to them? Just curious

 
At 10/04/2007 2:32 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Tristi, I'm so grateful that you took a chance on that unknown author! :)

 
At 10/04/2007 7:20 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Marcia, sometimes I said nothing and just smiled on the inside. Sometimes I was smart alecky and asked if he/she would like to meet the author. After awhile the regulars all knew me and every time a new book was about to come out they'd ask for their names to be put on the waiting list as soon as the book was ordered. And sometimes, especially just before Christmas, I would have patrons come in with one of my books in a little Seagull bag for me to sign.

 
At 10/04/2007 10:03 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

That's neat, Jennie, that readers knew where to find you. I'm sure that it made it a more enjoyable reading experience for them.

 
At 10/05/2007 11:42 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Every time I go to my library I look myself up and get a little rush when I see my books checked out.

But now that I know I can check the other libraries, I may have to do that, too. :)

 
At 10/06/2007 3:15 AM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

Oh,like checking my Amazon stats isn't depressing enough. Now I'm going to be roaming around Utah libraries doing the opposite of Sally Fields--why don't they like me?

But yeah, I buy books after I check them out. I actually kinda hate to buy books that I haven't read first because a lot of times it just frustrates me that I wasted my money. It's sort of like buying the DVD after you've watched a movie.

 
At 10/07/2007 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buy books? I rarely buy a book, I almost always use the library. Especially for Mormon fiction.

 
At 10/09/2007 10:48 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I have lots of series books where I own the entire series except for the first book because I checked it out from the library, then bought the rest because I loved it. I always try to go back and buy that first book, but sometimes I forget.

 

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