Library Use Does Not Equal Stealing

Every aspect of the situation described here at bookshelves of doom upsets me.

Basically Saundra Mitchell has a YA book called Shadowed Summer (pictured above) that came out in 2009 and that is going to probably go out of print from what seems like lack of interest. Seems being the keyword in that sentence because lack of interest is not the main contributing factor to this book’s troubled status:

According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list. (Quote from Saundra Mitchell’s blog)

I think that is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read in relation to an author’s book doing poorly. Even more so after I looked at some of the reviews on GoodReads. Tamora Pierce and Carrie Ryan both gave this book 5 stars!

Other depressing things follow in the comments. What troubled me the most upon reading them last night was a) several people who have the notion that it’s okay to cause all kinds of havoc for an author if you don’t like paying for books and b) that libraries are one step up for illegal downloads and therefore it’s okay to steal books because libraries are the same thing as stealing.

I realize these are all just ridiculous justifications, but what the absolute heck? People honestly think it’s ok to sabotage someone’s writing career AND that libraries do the same thing?

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I would like to state for the record that libraries buy books so no. Sorry, incredibly delusional commenters, but libraries are not actually in the business of robbing authors blind or preventing books from doing well even if you are. 

Libraries pay for the books they have regardless of the format they are in. Libraries do not hurt authors. They might cost an author a few sales here or there, but library books help generate interest in books in a more real way than sneakily stealing books off the internet.

By the way, as someone who spends most of her life at the library, I’m going to share a fact that seems to surprise a lot of people — There’s basically no book your library and its librarians can’t track down for you IF you ask them to do so. If it’s a new or forthcoming book, your library will probably buy it IF you ask. If it’s an out of print obscure book, your library can scour the states asking for it to be sent to you IF you ask. To make a request, you probably don’t even need to go into the library. You can hop online and send an email or call. 

As a result of knowing this and the fact that I’m positive this book was available in bookstores when it came out, I cannot even comprehend the sheer level of selfish, stupid laziness on the part of all these downloaders. Even if they couldn’t have bought it outright, if any of those people who downloaded that book over the summer had bothered going to their library and asking for it, I sincerely believe that the situation wouldn’t be so bleak.

For my part, I definitely plan on checking this book out since my library has it and reviewing it here if nothing else. If it’s as good as it looks, I’ll buy it.


About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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2 Responses to Library Use Does Not Equal Stealing

  1. Jen Moore says:

    Okay, this makes me want to go out and buy this book right now. There’s nothing I hate quite so much as excellent writers getting screwed by the system — and unfortunately, piracy is part of the system now, too.

    • It’s crazy, really. Obviously I never assumed piracy was helpful in any way, shape, or form to an author, but… I guess it’s one thing to know and another to see just how profoundly negative the effects can be on someone’s writing career.

      I think I’ll probably be buying Shadowed Summer as well. And I’ve been wanting to purchase Vespertine for myself and for my library for months now so that will definitely be happening in March.

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