If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, June 24, 2013

On Buying Books—Or Not

For the second time in as many days, a reader who wrote to me to praise my new book, Every Broken Trust, apologized for having checked the book out of the library. I reassured her that there was no need to apologize, but I know why these readers and others have felt this way. A few authors have been very vocal on Facebook and other places about their disgust at people using the library rather than purchasing their books. When you add in the justifiable distress that most authors feel and express about actual book piracy, which is usually of e-books, it might seem to readers that there are a lot of angry authors out there. I don’t believe that’s the case, at all.

I’m always happy to have readers check out my books from their local libraries, and most authors I know feel the same way. I think the authors who’ve exploded online about library copies cutting into their sales numbers are few—and mostly new to the business. For many of us midlist authors, library sales are quite an important part of our book-sale figures. Besides, most of us were at one time nerdy kids who adored and made great use of their libraries. Many of us are still big library users. Authors tend to love libraries.

I have known experienced authors who became upset at signings when presented with books that were purchased in used-book stores. They usually are gracious to the reader, but complain about it to their fellow authors later. And they have a point. The author and publisher receive nothing from that used-book sale after the initial sale. Some readers are not aware of this. Some are, but can’t afford to buy all of their books new, especially if the book is only available in hardcover.

None of this behavior mentioned so far is piracy. Libraries and used-book stores are legitimate outlets. Piracy, which usually involves e-books, is when copies of a book are made available for free in the millions on sites usually called torrent sites. These sites violate the copyright laws and basically allow people to steal books. Aside from the damage this does to publishers and authors, which can be substantial, it is fundamentally unethical and dishonest behavior.

I don’t want my books pirated, and I don’t care how many people tell me “all content should be free” or “it’s good exposure.” People can die from exposure. My attitude is Don’t steal my books. But used-book sales are not piracy. Those books were purchased once, much as library books are, and with physical books, certainly, there’s a limit on how many times that book can be checked out or sold before it gets ragged and must be discarded and a new one bought. In the meanwhile, people are reading my books and enjoying them and recommending them to friends and eventually, I hope, buying them new. My books are only available in hardcover and e-book at the moment, and I know the hardcover’s a big expense for students and folks on fixed incomes. Libraries and used-book stores make it possible for them to find my books and read them anyway.

However, I do think readers should be aware that used-book store sales count nothing at all for the writer. Library sales do count, though they are not figured in for the bestseller lists. And the way publishing works right now, if a writer’s sales don’t continually climb—at a fairly steep rate—that author will be dropped by the publisher after three to six books. Even if all those books earned out their advances. Even if all those books had stellar reviews and were nominated for awards. So if too many of an author’s readers use libraries only and/or, especially, used-book stores to access their books, that author and that series of books will disappear. The author may be able to start a different series at a different publisher, but usually s/he will have to take a pen name, making it difficult for fans to follow. Publishers today seem to think every author should become a bestseller eventually—and remember, neither library nor used-book sales count for that—and if s/he doesn’t, the publishers lose interest in that author.

So, like the inimitable Neil Gaiman, I’ll happily sign anything from anywhere. But I’d like readers to be aware that their choices will affect whether or not their favorite authors are able to continue writing their favorite books—or at all. But if, like my correspondents, you feel bad because you simply can’t afford to buy a new book by a favorite author, don’t. Just write a brief, thoughtful  review and post it on Amazon or Good Reads or other reading community. That will mean a great deal to the author and cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

What are your thoughts on this thorny issue?


Kath Marsh said...

Thank you for this. I agree. Your work should Never be stolen. And thank you for signing those used books. You're right. Sometimes it's impossible to afford a new book, hardcover or soft or even ebook.

I was a Marine brat growing up. We were a family of readers. Books were sacrosanct. But Marine families move often and are only allowed a certain tonnage in those moves. Books weigh a LOT. By weight we owned more books than furniture, but there had to be a limit. Which made the first thing we did as a family after each move was to get our library cards.

Paula Gail Benson said...

I agree. Libraries are purchasers and provide introductions to books that may lead to additional sales. It will be interesting to see how publishers and others continue to address piracy issues in electronic publishing. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

Shari Randall said...

Thanks, Linda, I learned a lot from this post. As a librarian and writer I see both sides of the issue, and e-books add another murky layer. Next week I'll post about what libraries can do for authors, which I hope will allay some worries.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

“All content should be free” is a load of crap. I have had my bridge book posted as a “free” pdf file. As the copyright owner I informed them they must remove the file, but in reality there is little I can do.

Theft is theft. I know people who have downloaded thousands of “free” books. They blanch when I tell them they have committed grand larceny and quickly change the conversation.

I have no problem with people reading books from libraries (I do) or borrowing them from friends (I do) or buying used (I do, especially for church fundraisers) or waiting for the paperback edition (I do).

Frankly, the bigger the author, the more likely I am to borrow their book because there are many copies at the library. My purchases are more likely of midlist or no-list authors.

~ Jim

Anonymous said...

Very seldom will I buy a book that I haven't borrowed from the library and previously read. If I love it, I will buy a copy. If I think someone I know would like it, I will buy them a copy. I love to give books as gifts.

I've worked in libraries, and I see the delight books can bring to people who could never begin to afford to buy all that they read. And I've seen people discover the joy of reading for pleasure.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kath, I've been a starving single-mother student who's had to get books from a used-book store because the library didn't carry them. I know it can be a problem.

I, too, grew up in the military, the Navy. Mine was a very dysfunctional family. Libraries were my shelter, my way of learning that there were other ways to live in the world. Without them, I'm not sure I'd have survived the violence of my childhood. They're still playing that role, among so many others, for children today in an increasingly violent world. I absolutely love libraries and librarians!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Paula, I don't know what publishers will finally do about piracy. They tried DRM, but it was a pretty dismal failure. I don't know what the next step will be. It's a real problem, however.

Linda Rodriguez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Rodriguez said...

Shari, I'm so glad you're going to do that post. I do think some newer writers simply aren't aware how helpful libraries to writers.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, that stinks! I hope they took it down. I can't monitor all those bit-torrent sites for mine. New ones crop up all the time. Whenever anyone lets me know that they've seen my book pirated, I send a copyright-violation-take-it-down email, but I don't go looking for them. It would take all my time.

I, too, have a young relative who uses those sites. We've had some heated discussions at family holidays, and I think his mother's very embarrassed that he does, but he's on his own so she has no control. He parrots all this talk about greedy writers, musicians, and publishers and content must be free. then he makes sure to let me know that he'd never pirate mine and he's only talking about big names. It's like saying, "I wouldn't steal from the mom and pop store down the street, but I have the right to steal from WalMart or BestBuy." But of course, they don't go there and put their philosophy into practice because they'd get caught and arrested.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, exactly! Many big readers will check out a first book in a series to see if they like the author and the characters. If they do, they'll go on to buy the whole series.

A couple of my biggest fans are living fairly restricted lives on fixed incomes. They couldn't afford e-readers, and my books are available in hardcover and e-book only at the moment. If they couldn't check them out from the library, they couldn't read my books. But they are big boosters of my work, and I appreciate that so much.

I'm always glad to have folks check out my books from their local libraries. I even encourage those who own them to do that on occasion. It keeps the library buying my books, and it helps the library show how much they're being used in this dreadful era of major cuts to libraries.

Warren Bull said...

Good post! Used book stores do not benefit the author or the publisher. I want my publisher to make money on my book so she/he will want to publish me again. When a writer speaks at a group I attend. I always buy a book, especially when nobody in the group is buying, as a 'thank you.'

LD Masterson said...

Erma Bombeck wrote about loving to go to a library and finding that all her books were checked out. But, of course, Erma didn't have to worry so much about her sales. I run into a problem sometimes when I recommend a book to a friend and they ask to borrow my copy. I know that could cost the author a sale but it seems selfish to refuse. A variation on the library issue.

Gayle Carline said...

I'm a library trustee, so I'm more than thankful that folks check my books out of the library to read. I completely get it: there are people who like to read who can't afford to buy a lot of books or a fancy-schmancy ereader. I still want them to have access to my stories. Legally.

The pirating thing I'm not so happy about, but I've learned from other sources that pirating sites usually come with a high risk of viruses, so maybe they get their comeuppance.

Karma can be a very bad girl, after all.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Warren. One of the things I've found after doing book tours is that writers' groups are often the worst about not buying books when you come to speak. Not our own Border Crimes chapter of SinC, thank heavens, or most SinC groups I've visited. But other writers' groups have really surprised me that way. They'll keep you going way past the agreed-on time with questions. Then they'll all walk out without buying a book.

Linda Rodriguez said...

LD,you're introducing that reader to that author. I don't think most authors would have a problem with that.

Most people won't buy a brand-new author. They'll borrow from the library or the friend who recommended that author. We all hope that, after that initial borrowing, they'll like the book and buy the next and next and...

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gayle, that's the way I feel about the libraries also.

And yes, I've heard that about the piracy sites. Lots of viruses and malware. Karma, as you say, is a bitch.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

An additional two comments regarding libraries:

(1) between the portion of property taxes I pay to support them and the donations to them each year (because I believe in free access to books), I probably spend as much or more on libraries than I do on purchased books.

(2) Some libraries are good about working with authors - however, I have found others that have absolutely no interest - even with a local author and like many others in this business don't even bother to return phone calls.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Jim, I believe strongly in supporting libraries, too, and spend a lot on them with taxes and donations--but I buy a heck of a lot of books, so don't know if that would equal out.

I'm sorry you've not had good luck with libraries for your own events. I've been very fortunate there. I've done wonderful events, not only at our own great local library systems, but at many libraries throughout Kansas and Missouri. (I usually do events with bookstores or organizations in other states. Haven't tried libraries in other states yet.) Perhaps it's just one individual blocking you. I've found most librarians very receptive to doing programs with authors.

Gloria Alden said...

If you could see my library, and indeed my whole house, you would see that I do buy books - lots of books, and many of them new. But I also buy books from used book stores, too, and check them out of the library. I belong to two book clubs; Mystery Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club that I buy from and I won't even mention how much I spent at Malice. And no, I'm not a wealthy person living alone on a pension.

I feel for the published authors who are being ripped off. It's not so bad for me because I'm self-published and don't have to worry about meeting a publishers quota. So when I had a book signing last weekend and a retired teacher from where I taught came in with a book of mine to be signed that another friend of hers had given her, I wasn't upset at all. She'd like the first one, too, that the friend had also given her. Two other friends of mine each bought one of my two latest books and were going to switch after they read them. Some would be offended, I was pleased. But like I mentioned, I'm in a different situation, and quite frankly, I would be very upset if someone pirated my books.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, you're right. Self-published authors are in a different situation. But I think authors of all kinds can unite around opposition to pirating. Which is the "cool" way of saying stealing.

I know people who let friends read my books because their friends can't afford to buy them. So I hope the friends come to like my books and will buy them when their financial situations change.

It's easy to forget (because the media seems to have totally forgotten), but there are still tons and tons of people out of work, on (or getting thrown off of) food stamps, foreclosed on, or downright homeless. A large part of our economy has never yet recovered from the big crash. And despite the stereotypes, many of those people are avid readers. If someone shares a book they bought with someone who can't afford one, I'm glad.

E. B. Davis said...

Linda, I always feel bad when I check books out of the library. But then, I also feel bad about how many books I buy. So I guess I'm balanced. Either way--I'm guilty!

E. B. Davis said...

LD--that's one good aspect of ebooks. To borrow a title, you have to trade Kindles. No one will do that except spouses perhaps. We don't read each others' authors.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, you should never feel bad about checking books out from the library! Library sales are important to writers, too, even if they don't figure toward bestseller status.

I often go check out books by writer I love when I own the books, just so the library will see there's demand for them and order the next of their books. That's something everyone can do for their favorite writers. I return them quickly so they won't be out of circulation.

Does everyone know that libraries usually get rid of books when they're not checked out often enough? The period varies from library to library. So if there are books you want to continue to see in your library, check them out.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Linda - I know I am late, but I am glad you mentioned what librarians call "weeding."
Public libraries are not archives, which have the mission of preserving books and other media. Public library collections are dynamic, constantly changing to meet demand. So if a book does not earn its shelf space by getting checked out (and each library system has its own criteria, usually two years) it will be discarded - usually finding its way into a book sale, which makes money for the library to purchase new books. Librarians hate to deaccession books, but you constantly have to think about all the new books that are rolling in, and how to make space and serve the public best. This is a touchy subject for a lot of people - I've heard of people Dumpster diving to "save" books thrown away capriciously by those book hating librarians. If a book ends up in a Dumpster, it usually means that something, let us say, unhealthy, has happened to it.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Shari, I learned that the hard way. Years ago, I was forced by my first husband to get rid of half my books. I let some classics of literature go, thinking I'd always be able to get those at the library. Only to find later that I couldn't. I had to go buy back those same books at friends of library sales.

So now when I'm picking up research books at the library, I add a book or two by a favorite author each time, even if I own those books. I want to see those authors still being carried by the library.