I love public libraries. I love borrowing books and returning them for free. I love browsing books and meeting friends to browse books. I like the slightly, musty universal smell of libraries. I enjoy the quiet that is often punctuated by happy kiddo sounds. I also love snooping the reserve shelves and seeing what other people are reading.
Books are a necessity. They are how many of us prefer to consume stories, which in my opinion is one of the most important things we do as people. Books teach us about communication and empathy. They are a way to escape, time travel, and renew hope. Books in my life have been personal flotation devices and public libraries my life line. Once upon a time I was a new mommy, without even a text plan on her flip phone of a mobile, in a new town thousands of miles from any family. I read books, y’all. I read books and didn’t feel so alone. I read books to pass the hours I spent feeding my daughter (who demanded silence during hear frequent meals). I read books while we were up late at night. I read books as she napped in my arms. I read my favorite passages out loud to her, even when she was too little to smile. Almost all of these books came from the public library. A weekly outing to the library was the highlight of our social calendar, particularly when my daughter was old enough to participate in story time. I’m pretty sure I read more words in the first two years of my daughters life than I had in the twenty odd years I had before she was born. It was wonderful. It sustained me. All those words and stories downloaded into my brain changed me.
So when it came time to decide how I wanted to indie publish my books, I knew that I had to find a way for them to be available in public libraries. It’s not just part of my brand or “ideal reader” marketing. It’s part of my values: people should not be denied access to books (connection/escape/comfort) because their pennies have to be marshalled elsewhere. I decided to publish “wide” on all the major ebook platforms. One of these platforms, Kobo, is linked to Libby/Overdrive. Every time one of my ebooks is added to a digital library catalogue I receive royalties. I didn’t know until I was an author how this worked, but libraries have budgets for acquiring new titles for their collection and authors set a library sale price (usually its about twice the paperback price for authors like me). Libraries also have portals on their websites or forms on their checkout desks for patrons to request the titles they’d like to read that aren’t yet in the catalogue. I’ve had readers do this (I’ve even had a few readers do this for my preorders), and I have to tell you, I got pretty misty-eyed over it.
If you are a card carrying public library member and want to read indie published books like mine, please know that you absolutely can get them at your library and that requesting them is a major way to support your favorite authors. It shouldn’t be too crazy to get these books in the catalogue, but it may require asking your friendly neighborhood librarian how. Please also know that you do NOT need to purchase books or be a “verified” shopper to leave ratings or reviews on any of the retailers. Ratings and reviews help other readers find their way to new books and authors, and many types of promos and digital wizardry aren’t available to authors until they reach a certain threshold of ratings. And while the publishing world tells authors not to read their reviews, this author does and cherishes each one and every single star.
Photo credit: The photo is a blast from our Mississippi library past and well over a decade old, taken on a digital camera that I would at times remember to toss into the diaper bag and sometimes even find a moment to use. I’m glad I did. These days it’s hard to believe my baby girl was ever that small.