Library Liability?

15 Mar

Apparently author Terry Deary, of Horrible Histories fame, doesn’t like libraries too much, criticising them on the basis that, as his books were borrowed more than 500,000 times he ‘only’ got £6,600 in lending fees rather than the £180,000 he would have received in royalties had he sold the same number of books. Presumably his writing abilities are better than his logic, as it doesn’t take much to see that his argument is fallacious.

Firstly, the odds are that many of the borrowing are repeat borrowings – whether the lending fees from these would equal or exceed the royalties he would have got had they just bought his book, I do not know; however, I do know that one person borrowing a book five times does not equal five lost sales…

Secondly, some were doubtless borrowed by readers who wanted to see if the book was worth buying meaning that, if it was, he got the lending fee in addition to his royalties, meaning he earned more money. Likewise, some borrowers may have enjoyed the books sufficiently to purchase, even if sampling it had not been their plan.

Thirdly, some books are probably borrowed by readers who otherwise would never touch a book, such as children borrowing a book for a school project.

Fourthly, and most importantly, he seems to have forgotten that all those books that fill libraries had to come from somewhere – they don’t actually materialise free of charge on the shelves, but have to be, well, purchases, meaning he did get a royalty payment for each one out there.

Of course, we could just get rid of libraries – it wouldn’t actually bother me as I’ve largely given up on them myself. But, I don’t think that would do Terry’s bank balance any good as all people need to do are lend each other copies – no lending fee payment required – or purchase them secondhand. Indeed, although ethically dubious, pirated copies would doubtless flourish. In a world without libraries, Terry might just find himself wishing that there was some sort of organisation that existed to pay him every time one of bis books was borrowed…

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2 Responses to “Library Liability?”

  1. Natalie March 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on Natalie Elizabeth Beech.

  2. misselletea March 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Comments like this (from Terry Deary) make me lose respect for people. Libraries are a great local resource, especially for some people can’t afford to buy new books for their children all of the time.

    He should be thinking long term – if he engages with them when they are young they are likely to buy when they are older, either for their own children or supporting his career as a writer if he chooses an adult genre. And if they don’t, who cares? He hasn’t disclosed how much he has already made from sales elsewhere, I imagine he’s already sitting on a small fortune.

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