We understand why library customers ask us The Question (how we
feel about “libraries going away now that we have ebooks and the
Earlier this week, one such inquirer stacked her pile of library books
on the Reference desk while she entered the drawing for this week’s Reader’s
Bonanza tote bag prize--these actions at least partially demonstrating why
ebooks don’t signal our demise.
This lady reads ebooks, too (thank you, Overdrive at RRPL!)
and probably enjoys the amazing convenience of the internet, as do library
staffers and many patrons. But the internet doesn’t answer all your
questions—the reason this valued customer came to the Reference desk.
And let’s not forget that library resources save their users a significant
amount of money.
Digital books and the internet aren’t library replacements—they
represent additional avenues of access for libraries to facilitate—along with
print, still preferred by an impressive percentage of readers. As
publishing options diversify and technology advances, everyone is
guessing how market shares and format preferences will evolve. The
only sure bet—my opinion--is that consumers aren’t thinking “instead of”; they
Librarians are not just OK with publishing upheaval, we tend to be
energized by it, perhaps more comfortable with the changes than our customers
are. When one works at a desk where anyone can approach at any time with
all sorts of questions, one learns to respond with “Hmmmm, let’s see…” rather
than “Oh, no!”
Other reasons for optimism:
The audio age: Audiobooks are
burgeoning in popularity. Library Journal reports a
confluence of factors-- longer commuting times, expanding variety, diversity in
audio formats, convenience of mobile devices—driving the current audio boom.
Audio Publishers Association observes that, “while other areas of the
publishing industry are shrinking, audiobooks are its fastest growing segment”
with, according to APA president Michelle Cobb, “an astonishing 83 percent
increase in audiobook titles produced just from 2011 to 2012”. Yesterday,
a customer who’s an audio enthusiast and I were dropping names of career audiobook
readers, some of whose reputations rival those of film stars. And you’d
be surprised how many celebrity actors (e.g., Bryan Cranston) also work as
Giveaway alert (especially if a road trip is in your future): The
library’s adult services department will offer a dozen unabridged CD audiobooks
as Facebook drawings and in-house “pop-up prizes” in the coming week.
The “buzz” factor: Physical books retain their
power to incite passion, acquisitiveness, and delight. Stephen
Colbert’s advocacy for Edan Lepucki’s forthcoming California will do
wonders for a debut author’s career—but Colbert also has a point to prove about
vendor responsibility toward customers.
At trade conferences like ALA and BEA, limited quantities of
pre-publication giveaway copies are scouted, coveted, and grabbed with alacrity
when the stacks materialize on the floor, signaling availability. Last month at Book Expo, I thought I’d missed
getting the ARC of Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, third in her
trilogy. Assuming this to be my due for
having once claimed I didn’t read vampire novels, I had resigned myself when a
colleague alerted me to the still-open autograph line and the last few copies,
after which I gleefully hugged the longed-for volume to my chest.
I hope no one saw that.
the weather like?” That’s the first question co-workers asked about New
York last week (I attended Book Expo America). Answer: “I wore my coat
the forecast for weeklong 70s, I packed light outerwear that made brisk walking
in that unexpectedly cool, windy spell a pleasure--not that I was merely
traipsing from Point A to Point B. Most of the time I hauled armloads of
books back to the hotel to stash in my luggage. Those
treasures and a 45-pound box of publisher giveaways and advance reader copies
shipped from BEA will furnish prizes for
grownup library customers during the "Mad About Reading" summer reading campaign. Check our Facebook
page and library homepage for details next week.
summer, when we held weekly drawings for literary goodies and hosted spontaneous
“Pop-Up Prize” giveaways at the reference desk, we relished seeing customers’
expressions change from puzzled to thrilled as we confirmed: “Take it--it's yours!”
to mind another rewarding variety of takeaway—candid gems from authors whose
work we cherish.
Journal-sponsored Day of Dialog in the McGraw-Hill building (50th
floor, nice view of the Empire State Building) featured practical discussions:
collection development, formats in transition, etc. But DoD is most known
for stellar assemblages of authors and publishers, all passionate about their
upcoming releases, their enthusiasm contagious. During
presentations--editors’ picks, cookbook trends, women fiction writers, key
contemporary authors—noted panelists offered up choice commentary:
Scottoline’s zingers broke up the room at frequent intervals. She
shared a favorite compliment, bestowed by a gentleman who claimed that he never
bought books authored by women: “You write like a man”.
who loves to visit libraries and has done so countless times, confessed, “I’m a
food writer/restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, asked what inspired her 1000
Things to Eat Before You Die, smiled, “Well, what motivated me was making a
great deal of money.”
Schrager, author of Fried and True (an entire cookbook about fried
chicken) corrected the notion that this delicacy is of American, specifically Southern,
origin. The true birthplace of FC: Scotland.
the panel’s observation that “women’s fiction” is a label while “men’s fiction”
is not, Sophie Littlefield suggested this alternative: “Fiction
You Will Like”.
James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, recounted
anecdotes from his university teaching experience and admitted to a fascination
with the 1970s: “I just wanted to put my characters in polyester.”
Cain, her injured leg cushioned and propped atop a chair, garnered a roomful of
guffaws by announcing the title of her new thriller: One Kick.
which women authors deserved bigger audiences, the “Women Writing Fiction”
panel recommended these up-and-coming talents:
and Stephanie Perkins. The library has books by everyone on this list.
a memorable revelation not from Day of Dialog but overheard at Javits Center in the massive queue
awaiting an autograph and a moment with Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame: “I missed a friend’s
wedding for this!”