Libraries and bookstores and book sales, OH MY! (and a FREE BOOK giveaway for your trouble!)

Drum roll please! THE LUCKY WINNERS ARE:

Svetla, Donna, and Lynn. Watch your email, ladies! Thank you all for reading and commenting!

So I was at an event a couple of weeks ago. The question of bookstores came up. The question was simple. Do libraries increase book sales to a general audience?

My initial knee-jerk reaction was a resounding, “NO!”–with a caveat. From my perspective, publishers have a terrific opportunity to sell books to libraries. There are a ton of libraries, and even if a library take a single copy of your book, with the right sales people handling your title, that can add up to a significant number of novels landing in the hands of the library-supporting public.

However, my experience–in the years I’ve been working bookstores–, is that patrons loyal to libraries show up at the store to see what’s out, what’s the latest and greatest, and they make notes or take pictures on their smart phones to bring back to their library of choice so they can get their hands on the book without shelling out a dime. And almost, to a person, they have what I call the “library chip” on their shoulder. Why would they cough up their hard-earned money on a book when they can score it for zip? Really, that’s a great question!

At the afore-mentioned event, my library perception was challenged by one of my favorite authors and most wonderful friends, Ellen Hart. She said that, in her experience, libraries circulating an author’s books generate sales on backlist and potentially frontlist titles.

My emphatic “NO!” that popped unbidden from my mouth was an accumulation of many years experience as a past and current bookseller. The run-ins I’ve had with customers who were loyal library supporters, while working Borders Bookstore for almost ten years and two small niche indie stores for the last five years, followed two camps: either the customer lived for the sole purpose of supporting libraries, or they were tightwads who would never fork over money for a book they could read for free. And if they did it was a book that cost no more than the price of a mass market paperback.

Okay, okay. Calm down! Take a breath. I’m not here to blast libraries. My mom was a librarian-cum-media-generalist for twenty-four of her thirty-four year teaching career. I grew up in libraries. Still, to this day, I believe wholeheartedly libraries are 100% essential to the social fabric of civilized society. In fact, I’m appalled at the state of the library in the twenty-first century. In the past few years, I did a talk with the gay-straight alliance at my old high school, and it was held in the library–or media center. I distinctly remember libraries of my youth, places that were a refuge from the turmoil of my school-age self. I remember the stacks–which were row upon row of bookshelves housing everything from mysteries to marketing to mechanical guides. When I walked into my old high school library, I could hardly believe my eyes. Where the shelves of books had once stood was a vast openness, and tables had been spread out to take up the space.

Now, I understand the technological age and its impact on the printed word. I can see where so many libraries, especially in the educational system, have suffered funding cuts because students no longer use the library as they once did. However, what about public libraries? I still see bookshelves filling the buildings. People who live in places where there are no bookstores still have libraries to give them a door into another world, be it LGBT fiction, alternate worlds, or something as simple as books to help one find a fulfilling and meaningful life.

“So what?” you ask, dear reader. What does this have to do with authors and sales? Why am I bothering to read this blog any further? Because I have questions!

When I was a kid, I would find a book and fall in love, and then I’d spend days, and sometimes weeks tracking down more in the series or by that author, because I wanted to buy the books, to be able to read and reread those tales whenever I wanted. Anytime and anywhere I wanted. And this brings us full circle.

What function do you, as a reader, feel libraries have? Do you use them? How do you use them? Does what you find within the stacks spur you to buy additional books by that author if you like them? Or are you content to wait for the next release to show up at your favorite lib? Are you one of the “library-chip” folks who show disdain in bookstores and only use them as your perusing grounds for gathering book-related intel? Come on, people, let’s talk libraries, book sales, and cherished memories!

Leave a comment, tell me your library thoughts, memories, and opinions, and I’ll enter you into a drawing for a free book–ebook or print of my newest release, Operation Stop Hate!

 

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45 thoughts on “Libraries and bookstores and book sales, OH MY! (and a FREE BOOK giveaway for your trouble!)

  1. That was a good discussion. I personally don’t use libraries as often as I used to. Partly I read books that I can’t find in our library (and I haven’t gotten around to requesting them) and partly my lifestyle is such that I don’t read many paper books anymore. Most of my reading is on the iphone on short breaks at work or on the ipad on the treadmill. Plus, I’m a tad impatient when I want a new book and the one-click ordering off Kobo is really nice. When I discover a new author I enjoy I generally buy everything by her and read them all in a row.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ann, I totally understand the changing consumption of books for entertainment, and maybe for academia as well? That I’m not up on 🙂 I, too, do a lot of reading on my iPhone in the line at the grocery store, etc. It’s a great way to read when you have limited time, that’s for sure. One-click ordering is great!

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      1. Yes- the local college bookstore has just been bought by Barnes & Noble- definitely some changes in academia. One click ordering can be very dangerous, however, when one has discovered an new favorite author who is prolific. I have to limit myself to two books at a time, and that works about 50% of the time… Or after an event like the one you referenced above- I think I bought 5 new books that day… Oops 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember walking into the “Young Readers” section and seeing a;; the Nancy Drew books all in a row. I knew I would be coming back very often. And, oh, the smell of books, books, books. I loved the card catalog desk with all those little drawers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Shelley, me too. I still walk into a bookstore and suck that book air in! Love Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown…and the card catalog! My mom used to have me come in when they yearly “weeded” the stacks of old books. Loved that!

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  3. I use to use the library when I was a truck driver. I would go get 3 or 4 books on tape. They made the long driving shifts enjoyable. The librarian would help me with lots of recommendation. Now that I am retired I buy books for my kindle. I haven’t even gotten a library card since we moved. Guess I need to check out my new library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Donna, YES! An audio book is a great way to help the time pass during a long haul! I think most libraries now have audiobooks available online, and you download them and listen away! Overdrive is one of the apps that does it. Occasionally I do that as well, even for my shorter errand trips!

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  4. As a kid, I would go to the library all the time. Be it the one in school or my local public library. I would get books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, etc. I remember spending a summer working my way through Shakespeare’s tragedies, checking each copy out from the library.

    Now I don’t use the library as much. Mostly when I go there, I go there with a purpose. Sometimes for research, a quiet place to sit and read, or to work. I don’t check out many books. But I do scope out the displays and see if anything catches my eye.

    I’m sort of the opposite of your “library-chip folks”. If I see something in the library, instead of checking it out, I’ll go to the book store and buy it (or order it online). I use the library to get ideas.

    My local library also offers a variety of activities, such as book clubs. Sometimes I take advantage of those. My friend and I always go to the library book sales. They have them a few times a year, The books are sold for really cheap, usually $1 for hardcover and $0.50 for paperbacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s nice to hear you are using libraries in a multitude of ways, Gina! I have done some writing at my local library. It’s quiet, and there are books all around! I’m not sure if the group Friends of the Library is national, but they are great for organizing different events through the libraries in the metro here. Love those book sales, too!

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  5. I grew up a block away from a library and visited it several times a week. I was, and am, an avid reader and the librarians came to know me quite well. Starting in the 6th grade, the librarian would set aside new books for me to read before they went on the shelves and then ask me to let them know what I thought of the books and their general interest to my peers. This lasted all through high school and I have those wonderful woman to thank for broadening my interest in so many areas.
    I still use the library weekly. I also visit the local independent bookstore on a regular basis. If I find a book that I think I might like at a bookstore, especially if it is a costly hardcover, I’ll make a note of it and check the library. Many times I’ve discovered a new author this way and end up buying their books.
    My city has an active and vibrant library system and to me this is an important part of the character of a city. In tough times, the library hours throughout the branches get cut back but they have get restored as the city budget improves. In fact, the library is now open more hours per week throughout their branches than ever before.
    My love of reading translated to my son. He married a reader and their 3 year old daughter just got her first library card. I couldn’t be more proud.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Beth, how fun to hear your libraries are vibrant and being well used! I too have seen the ups and downs of library open hours as the budget within each city fluctuates. Many kudos to your son and his wife, and their child!

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  6. As a child i went to the library often and when my nieces and nephews were younger we went to the library in the afternoons. It was fun and a cheap way to spend time with them and to get them interested in reading. Now all they want to do is play video games.

    I do not get tot he library often even with one only 5 minutes from my home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kas!

      I hear you about hitting the library in past years quite hard. I myself don’t find time to visit the libraries around me as often as I would like. And then there is the videogame thing for the kids. It’s really hard to reconcile the fact that instead of amusing themselves by reading, a majority of kids spend time in front of the video screen, allowing their imaginations to be lead along instead of reading, and using their imagination to bring the story to life. But, I guess we should live in a different world than we used to.

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  7. When I was a kid (up through high school) almost all my fiction reading came from libraries. But pretty much concurrently with getting a job, I switched to buying all my fiction. In part, it was a shift from voracious read-anything-in-front-of-me to looking for very specific books I wanted to read. As an adult, I’ve used libraries exclusively for non-fiction research — and even there, if I find a book I know will be useful to me in the future, I’ll hunt down a copy and buy it. I like owning books, what can I say?

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  8. This was an interesting post. I have been a library user my whole life. It was a big deal as a kid to get your own library card! My parents never restricted anything we wanted to read even if the librarian made a comment. We would all get the maximum number of books allowed. Punishment was to take away library books. It was very effective. As I got older, I did go to bookstores and bought my fair share but also used it see what was new and to check it out of the library if I could. My budget has always been limited so free was good! I can’t seem to pass up a bookstore. I love e-readers because they are so convenient but I still use them in addition to the library. If I cannot get it or cannot wait to get if from the library, I buy it. If it is a book that I think I can wait to read, I put it on hold at the library. I also like to walk the stacks to see it something catches my eye or I see an author I might like. I am just a big bibliophile:)

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  9. Shelley, so very true! I know that a lot of people aren’t able to purchase books and I think libraries are an excellent way to get your hands on reading material. That may be one reason I am very sad to see the decline in the number of libraries especially those in school.

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  10. Well, I’m a retired community college library cataloger so I’m biased – very pro-library!

    But even without the career I would be a fan of libraries. I think they are one cornerstone of democracy … along with public education, freedom of religion, and the right to vote, etc. All of which are under attack in our current “democracy,” which should tell us something, but I digress …

    I believe libraries do contribute to book sales. Partly because libraries have limited budgets and limited space, they often do not have all of the works of a particular author and/or they have had to weed out older works to make way for newer works. Anyone – like myself – who finds and author they like to read will look for every title by that author. So, when unfound in the local library, that equals sales.

    My main problem with my local library is they do not carry most of the fiction authors I like to read – take an LBGT guess – and their range of the non-fiction I read is limited. To be thorough and accurate in my comment, I just ran each of the W&W authors into an author search of the local catalog – not one ”hit.”

    In a town this size, there would probably be picketing in front of the library if they spent public funds on LBGT titles and I don’t know how well they would be able to stand against that. But, clearly, they aren’t even trying.

    Personally, I have blown my budget for two years since getting a kindle … BAD BAD BAD!!!! That instant gratification of having another Robin Alexander/Andi Marquette/Clifford Henderson/Radclyffe title to follow the one I just read … irresistible. (Just a short list of my current favorites! 🙂 )

    Bottom line I don’t think authors need to fear the public libraries. People reading books and talking to their friends about them … best thing you could hope for.
    Lynn

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lynn, I LOVE this response! And I hear you about the difficulty getting a hold of LGBT titles. Even in large markets it’s difficult. Midnight Ink did a pretty good job betting my Shay series into quite a few libraries across the nation, and into Canada. However, they certainly didn’t hit them all. I completely agree that authors don’t need to fear libraries.

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  11. Like Heather Rose, I visit the library for the reference books for research, but also to people watch. As an avid reader, though, I buy all of my fiction books. My name is RJ, and I’m a book-o-holic!

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  12. I love both libraries and bookstores. I don’t get to either now as much as I used to because of mobility issues. Now I buy a lot on Amazon. My housemates and I are
    all avid readers and we must have a few thousand books–necessitating a shift to
    e-books in self-defense. Like RJ above, I’m a book-o-holic. I’ve often said that if I were a dragon, books would be my hoard.

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  13. Ack! I wrote a huge comment, both pro-library and pro-purchasing books, totally pro-author all the way and it disappeared. suffice it to say it’s been a long draining day and i’m not retying it….i just looooove books, on my shelves and my libraries bookshelves!

    Ona

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  14. I grew up in a small town with an even smaller library so I didn’t use the library but I would get to go the bookstore and spend hours picking out 1 or 2 books. When I was old enough to drive I would go to the bigger library in a neighboring city and take out 10-15 romance books per week to 2 weeks since I could read at work. Now I don’t use the library since I am into self gratification that Amazon allows me to have. I am also not sure how big of lesbian fiction the library in my town would have vs going to a bigger one again. I don’t go to bookstores as much now that I have discovered Amazon and online shopping!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lesfic,

      Great thing to score that license so you could get yourself to that other city’s library! Amazon and online shopping, have, in many instances, certainly made life easier. I’m all about self gratification! In BOOK buying. Get your minds out of the gutter 🙂

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  15. Great post with many intriguing points for consideration😀. As a child it was always a treat when mom would take our whole brood to the library for weekly selections! Then in elementary school, Scholastic Book Clubs became a monthly treasure with their pictures of book covers and brief synopsis to read. We didn’t have much money with six children, but mom would let me buy a book every other month…

    Fast forward MANY years later: I am a middle school language and literature, still providing Scholastic order opportunities to my students, and encouraging students to become lifelong readers😆. I take my young adult LGBTQ books in and have a few students request those ‘you know’ titles from me! Being from a small town in MI, students do not have the funds or resources to buy titles that represent them, so in my small way, I try to provide an avenue to books that would likely go unmet. So, yes to libraries, bookstores, e-readers, on-line orders, book give-always, and any other other avenue that gets books into readers’ hands 👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandi. This is fantastic. I love what you are doing to help kids with those ‘you know’ titles! Please email me your address and I’m going to send you a couple of my books to add to your sharing collection. This will NOT be a part of the three book giveaway. It’s just to show my appreciation for what you are doing. jchandlerauthor at gmail dot com

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  16. I have not used a library in many, many years because I hate having a “return date” hanging over my head. I want to savour my books. I also want the option to read my books over and over again. I simply must own my books.

    In addition, I prefer the feel of a paper book in my hands, but more and more these days, I find myself adding to my ebook library. The difficulty with an e-library is “out of sight, out of mind”. There is no stack of books to lure you to read…

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  17. Deb, no kidding! I, too am of the paper preference ilk. However, I do read books on my phone when I am in situations where I wouldn’t be able to bring a print book. But I totally agree…the lack of a stack of books with the spines showing takes away the anticipation, and too true…out of sight, out of mind.

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  18. I do both libraries and book stores. I read a lot ( at least 6 books a week) and because of a limited income cannot afford to buy that many books. I do purchase at least 4 books a month.

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  19. As a child I was moved from one relative to another, in books finding my only stable friends. Since before I was three years old I spent most of my free time in libraries, private as well as public, reading anything and everything. Before I started to earn money, it was that. When I could start buying my own books, I have spent all money I could spare buying books. I love books, love to keep them in my hands, love to return to my favourites. Ebooks don’t do that for me. Libraries these days – in my country necessity for people who love to read – books being at least ten times as expensive as before this darned market economy, so hardly available for many. For people who can afford buying books, library is good for testing new authors. Not to buy some random rubbish.
    For me… Since I started reading in foreign languages, I can’t rely on libraries. I miss that. With books from abroad, for me twice as expensive, thanks to shipping costs, I’m afraid to buy new authors (being burned many times) and ebook just isn’t the same. I would love to be able to go to a library, browse through a wide selection od lesfiction, leave with an armful and after reading them go to a bookstore to search for more, to OWN them.

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    1. Oh my, Svetla. Your story is something else. Thank you for sharing this. It sounds like libraries there doing well? I hope that’s the case, and I wish we could get more lesfic for you to devour!

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  20. There is nothing like the feel of a book in your hands, weather paperback or Hard Bound book. I grew up with the generation where there where no computers, no e-books. The only way you could read is to get a book and read it. Growing up I would always go to the library and get books to read to fill my time cause I was one of the kids other kids picked on. I have almost every book one of my favorite authors has written in book form. I would also spends hours in the library trying to find books that I wanted to read anything to stay away from home where bad things would happen if my mom wasn’t around. Books took me to another world I would just get lost in them. Now that the e-book is around, alas I have to admit is takes up less space in the house. But every now and then I purchase a hard bound or paper back just to support my local bookstore for those who don’t believe in e-books. I have read on book and then find out there are more to it that keep the story going and I have buy the next book to see what is going to happen next. I fully believe in supporting libraries and bookstores for those who need refuge or just a place to go to get away form it all and get lost in a good book. Without them where would people go who can’t afford an e-book or computer and I know there a people out there who can’t. And I will admit I do belong to quite a few e-book websites that give book for free from time to time, but when there is more than one book in the series I do go and purchase them. All I can say to finish this is buy or read a book and take yourself away from the cruel happenings that are going on in today’s society.

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  21. For me, growing up, the library was vital. It was my only source of books as my family couldn’t afford to buy them for me. I still use the library now, even though it’s harder because services have been scaled down, and aren’t a patch on what I feel they should be. I use the library to check out books that I’m not sure I’m going to like. If I like it, and want to tread it again, I will buy it. If I don’t I haven’t lost any money.

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  22. Interesting blog Jessie. I “discovered” you in a library and other authors that way. I love and grew up utilizing the library. It’s about finances for me, when I’m working I buy, when I’m not, I don’t (at least, not as often). However, as I get older, I use it less, because they seem to “have” less. Very little lesbian fiction, mediocre books/authors, “popular” authors/flavor-of-the-month stuff (ick!). If I want one of my favs I have to buy (usually online, but sometimes I order them through an independent bookstore) or if they’re older, out-of-print, that’s when used book stores come in handy. Now the library is more for reading “filler” while I wait for a favorite author to write again or ordered book(s) to arrive, and, of course, to get a DVD of a movie I was maybe interested in but not enough to pay $10 for, or just one I “missed” when it was in the theater or a ‘forgotten’ one I wanted to see.

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  23. Okay folks, time to do the drawing. Three folks who responded will receive an ebook or print book of their choice! I’ll post the winners at the top of the main post and notify them!

    Thank you all who swung by and hopped into the conversation!

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