Libraries 'have had their day', says Horrible Histories author, Terry Deary:
"I'm not attacking libraries, I'm attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant," Deary told the Guardian, pointing out that the original Public Libraries Act, which gave rise to the first free public libraries in the UK, was passed in 1850. "Because it's been 150 years, we've got this idea that we've got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that," said Deary, who has received hate mail since he first aired his views in the Sunderland Echo yesterday.
"Books aren't public property, and writers aren't Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They've got to make a living. Authors, booksellers and publishers need to eat. We don't expect to go to a food library to be fed."
As one of the most popular library authors – his books were borrowed more than 500,000 times during 2011/12 – Deary will have received the maximum amount possible for a writer from the Public Lending Right scheme, which gives authors 6.2p every time one of their books is borrowed, up to a cap of £6,600. "If I sold the book I'd get 30p per book. I get six grand, and I should be getting £180,000. But never mind my selfish author perception – what about the bookshops? The libraries are doing nothing for the book industry. They give nothing back, whereas bookshops are selling the book, and the author and the publisher get paid, which is as it should be. What other entertainment do we expect to get for free?" he asked.
"Librarians are lovely people and libraries are lovely places, but they are damaging the book industry. They are putting bookshops out of business, and I'm afraid we have to look at what place they have in the 21st century."
Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson disagrees:
"I think it's brilliant that libraries are free. Not only do library users also buy books, but if some users genuinely are too poor to buy books, then it's great that we've got libraries for those people … [And] If libraries have any bearing on bookshops, it's the other way – libraries are creating readers," said Donaldson, who has "never met" a bookseller who believes libraries are putting them out of business.
"the booksellers all blamed Amazon, and to some extent ebooks, for their decline," she said. "If yet more bookshops close and people can only find books online, without public libraries there would be no place for children to physically browse and discover their tastes in reading. And publishers would only be able to publish the most popular titles, so that far more authors would be out of a living."
"In reality, libraries are the places where our readers and book-buyers are created. Without the huge choice of books which libraries provide, children are not going to discover their favourite authors, and will not then be asking for books for their birthdays or buying them when they are adults with their own money," she said.
Donaldson did agree with Deary that "writers need to make a living", and admitted that it "annoys me when we are often expected to do events for free", but said she had "never met any other author who feels that libraries are robbing them of their income. Like him I am one of the country's most-borrowed authors … but I think it is partly for this reason that we are also among the bestselling ones".
As a librarian- to-be and avid book lover with a tiny budget thanks to the whole being a student thingy, I'm a major fan of libraries. I had a period where I didn't use them much, but now it's back on. I haven't bought any new books for I think almost half a year, because I can't afford to nor do I have the storage space. I've got a few to-be-purchased, books in series I'm already collecting etc, but most of my favourite reads I get from the library database. And I love that.
Personally I think Deary's way off. He's maxed out the amount of money he can be paid and he's bitter about that, he wants more. In a way, I can understand, who doesn't want to be paid in full? But I support Donaldson's arguments about the positive effects of libraries and to Deary I can only say; that's just how it is. That sounds crude, but I don't know how to argument it properly, it's just some of the drawbacks to the library system. But like Donaldson also in part mentions, many claim that it's internet shopping, self publishing and book prices of $1 that screws up the market and customers expectations and what they're willing to pay. We don't live in a perfect world, where good comes to all those who deserve it, but I believe it would be made worse if we disbanded libraries and free access to literature, good and bad.
In a way, I think it's unrealistic for authors to expect to live off being published. The world is way too big and global, there are too many others doing the exact same thing and I just don't think it's an option for most. Big good/lucky authors can manage to get an income that kicks ass, like Rowling, Meyer, Martin, King - there are tons of names. But there are millions of authors who never get anywhere, and then there are those who make some money of their writings but not a fortune.
SOURCE Libraries 'have had their day', says Horrible Histories author
SOURCE Julia Donaldson defends libraries from Terry Deary's attack