Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saving the Book Business from Itself

At Library Journal, librarian and author Barbara Fister asks: “What if you ran your bookstore like a library?” Then seems to startle herself with some of the answers.
Ironically, these days it’s the book business that has an aura of crisis and gloom, while visits to libraries are surging. Over two billion items are checked out annually, and nearly all libraries offer free Internet access along with many of the amenities of a bookstore.

Truth be told, the book business has always had an aura of crisis and gloom. It’s the Eeyore of industries. But lately, it’s become clear that the book industry really does need to be saved: from itself.
Though she has a full understanding of some of the problems currently facing aspects of the publishing industry, she’s the first to admit she’s not sure where all of the answers will come from:
My solutions are a bit fantastical. I’m sure there are things I don’t understand about the large and complex distribution system that underlies bookselling, and we’d have to persuade publishers that libraries are partners rather than semilegitimate piracy schemes. No doubt it’s all more complicated than I imagine, and it wouldn’t happen quickly; the publishing industry adapts to change with all the alacrity of a glacier.
Still, she’s asking the right questions and she sums up the feelings many book lovers have very succinctly:
Still, as a writer I am dismayed when I hear authors scold readers when they do what comes naturally -- share books. As a librarian, I want book publishing to recognize the virtues of our values. As a reader, I want books. Lots of them. Right now.
Fister’s Library Journal piece is here. Earlier this year, I very much enjoyed an essay by this author in Inside Higher Ed on the ethics of social networking. That piece is here. Her newest book, In the Wind (St. Martin’s Minotaur) will be published at the end of this month. Around that time, look for a January Magazine Author Snapshot with Fister right here.



Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks for the kind words! I've been wanting to get even with the guy who told libraries to model themselves on B&N (instead of on independent bookstores) for ten years. Ha! Gotcha!

I should see if he's on Facebook and go throw a sheep at him. Though I guess that's only among "friends." Hmm...

Friday, April 18, 2008 at 7:57:00 AM PDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home