I love libraries.
If you’ve followed me on any network for any period of time, then you know I have a lot of varied interests. That means I spend a lot of time online hanging out in forums for independent artists. And here’s what I’ve learned:
Independent artists don’t know a good deal when they see it.
I’m not saying all of them are like that. But on any forum of independent filmmakers, you’ll find at least one thread about how terrible Netflix is for independent artists because they only pay a generous one-time license fee for 1-2 years instead of paying a hefty royalty every single time it streams. On any forum of independent musicians, you’ll find a thread discussing what a rotten deal Spotify is because they only pay a small royalty every time your music streams instead of offering you a hefty 70% royalty on a permanent sale of your song.
(By the way - if you’d like to give me a fraction of a cent, you can listen to some of my new age music on Spotify. I’ve been told it’s excellent music for when you don’t want to listen to music. I’m all about the Washingtons, baby.)
The writing world isn’t any different. Witness the recent case of LendInk (masterfully retold by
AC Crispin Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware), where authors descended en masse upon a completely legitimate website and brought down a valuable (and legal) promotional service because it meant people could read their book without paying for it.
Now, I don’t always agree with Joe Konrath, but there’s one thing he always gets right (well, two if you count his unholy knack for marketing), and that’s his readiness to embrace new technology. He jumped from traditional publishing into electronic self-publishing with both feet, and now he’s doing the same thing with selling eBooks to libraries.
1. Ebooks are $3.99
2. No DRM.
3. The library only needs to buy one ebook of a title, and then they can make as many copies as they need for all of their patrons and all of their branches.
4. The library owns the rights to use that ebook forever.
5. The library can use it an any format they need; mobi, epub, pdf, lit, etc. And when new formats arise, they’re’re free to convert it to the new format.
Seriously, folks — hug your librarians. Unless they seem like the type to mace you in the gorram face, in which case you should just buy them a muffin basket. If you’re an author — especially an independent author — then you need libraries. Librarians are an author’s best friend. They instill a love of reading in their communities, and they talk about books. All the dang time. It’s like it’s their job or somethin’.
It’s very easy to pass up a chance at three dimes because you’re worried about losing a quarter. That’s exactly the kind of thinking behind the publishing industry’s efforts to lock down eBook lending.
Don’t be like them, Sparky. Hug a library.
(They’re less likely to mace you than the actual librarians.)
[Edit: When originally published, this article credited the summary of the LendInk story to AC Crispin. In fact, it’s by Victoria Strauss.]