Thursday, September 18, 2008

Question for Authors Regarding Book Borrowing

I have a question for authors. How do you feel about book borrowing?

Personally, I think it is beneficial for authors. A few years ago, I was not reading the mystery genre at all. A new acquaintance (now a friend) gave me two books to read. One of them was One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. I found the opening repugnant and I actually tried to give the Evanovich back to my friend. She refused to take it and told me that I needed to try to read it again.

So I did. And I loved it.

I now own half a dozen Stephanie Plum books, including One for the Money, which I went out and purchased for myself. I obviously don't have all the books, but I have read all of them, except the latest. But I wouldn't have bought any of them if it had not been for my friend. In fact, I would not be reading the mystery genre at all if it had not been for my friend.

What do you think? Am I evil incarnate?

Nowadays, I review everything I read, borrowed or not, fantasy or not, debut or not. This assuages my guilty conscious somewhat for all my book borrowing, library borrowing and all my (gasp!) used bookstore purchases.

What do all you published authors think of fans who borrow books? Am I a real fan of Evanovich, or just half a fan? Please absolve me! And all of those of you who borrow books, I'd love to hear any stories you may have that are similar to mine Please don't be shy. I made my confession. Time for you to make yours.


Mulluane said...

Well I'm not an author but I'll give you my take on the other side of things. I'm, usually the lender, no, thats not right, I'm the giver because I rarely ever get a book back.

When I started up my blog I THOUGHT I'd have enough books to review for like....forever. It wasn't until I started digging deep into the stack that I discovered a book here, a book there, an entire series I KNOW I had....gone, kaput, vanished into thin air.

Good news to the authors! I just went on a $100 shopping spree just to replace books. (and their sequels of course if I didn't already have them.)

So if you want to assuage your guilt either never return them, forcing the lender to go buy more, finding out there are sequels and buy those too or just return them and buy your own copy and any other books by that author (assuming its something you liked) and the author wins either way!

Maria said...

I don't borrow many books, but I do use the library extensively--espcially for an author I've never read. If it weren't for the library, I wouldn't likely bother to try very many new authors.

Some authors feel the library is a good thing--a place for us to try out books. Others think it's terrible. But the library is a sale and sometimes more than one. If a book is popular enough, the library orders several copies. I used to work in a library so I can tell you that for books like Evanovich--they order 3 to 5 copies upfront.

Libraries also order replacement copies when a book becomes...too used. So they are sales no matter how you look at it!

I lend books out and only sometimes get them back. So I'm in the same camp as Mulluane. I've had to buy a book more than once because it disappeared!

Tia Nevitt said...

Mulluane, I have done that as well! I've owned three different copies of Dragonlance. And the original copy I read was borrowed. I've owned two copies of The Deed of Paksenarrion and at lest three copies of The Once and Future King.

Maria, Thanks for providing all the insight about how a library works. I rarely lend books, and then I do so only to good friends, when I'm certain of getting them back.

There's this book someone lent me back in the 80s, which I'd love to read again. Unfortunately, I can't remember the author or the title. One of the perils of borrowing.

Janet said...

I'm not yet published (yay, optimism) but I would think that borrowing is more positive than negative. I usually start with an unfamiliar author by borrowing the book from the library. As a result, there are now authors that I will buy solely on the strength of their name.

Angela said...

Like Janet, I'm a yet-to-be-published author. :)

In general I'm quite fine with book borrowing, but I have my quirks about it. I will cheerfully let housemates borrow my books--as long as they don't leave the house. Like Mulluane, I have had a history of loaning books out that I never got back. Also, I'm very finicky about the physical state of my books, so I won't loan them out to non-housemates unless I'm sure that they will take good care of them.

I will happily accept books loaned to me, and I'll try to bump those books up to the top of my reading queue so that I can return them in a reasonable time frame. Sometimes this doesn't work though. *^_^*;;

Also, the library is awesome, and often the better way to read if one is on a book budget and can buy fewer books than one wishes to read. Or, if a favorite author has gone to hardback and you want to read the latest one NOW!

Amanda Ashby said...

First up, I love Stephanie Plum - she rocks (though seriously - just pick Morelli already!!).

As for your questions, funnily enough I've just started a part-time job at our local library and today a woman came up to the counter to check out some books and one of them was mine!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of my life!!

I know some authors count every sale and see book swapping and library borrowing as somehow cutting away at their income, but I definitely don't think like that.

I have a limited book budget and I appreciate that everyone else does as well. I buy as many books as I can each year, but I will quite happily get the rest out of the library (or borrow from friends) and if I enjoy them, I will blog about them and try and spread the love that way!!! (and no, Tia, you are most definitely not evil incarnate - you support so many writers, especially the debut ones and we really appreciate it!!!!!)

Lisa Shearin said...

Hi Tia, I popped over yesterday and saw your topic, but just never got around to commenting. (Yesterday was nuts.)

As a published author, I think borrowing is great. Anything that gets your books in the hands of new readers is a good thing; and if the reader likes the book a friend loaned to them, they'll be likely to go out and buy their own copy -- and to recommend it to their friends. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to raise awareness for your books. Raise awareness + Write the best book you can = Long & happy career.

BTW -- My sister-in-law loaned me my first copy of Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series. I have bought every last one of them. The same with Janet's Stephanie Plum series -- A friend loaned me the first one, and I bought the first one and the rest of them.

Loaning is good.

Tia Nevitt said...

Lots of Stephanie Plum fans here! I guess it shouldn't be any surprise, since you guys read my blog.

It looks like us soon-to-be-published authors have healthy attitudes regarding book borrowing!

Thanks, Amanda and Lisa, for answering my call for author opinions! Lisa, I didn't consider your point about lending being another word-of-mouth strategy. And I'll have to check out those Judge Deborah Knott novels. And Amanda, I loved your story about the library patron borrowing your book. Did you tell her that you wrote the book? Did she believe you?

Marissa Doyle said...

Book borrowing? Absolutely.

Speaking as an author, I have no problem with readers borrowing my books...because if they like them, I know chances are that they'll eventually buy them either for themselves or as gifts for others. Ditto for library borrowing--a win-win situation for an author.

But yeah, as a reader/book collector, I'm always a little chary about lending, especially out-of-print or hard-to-find books from my collection. I've sometimes gone out and bought a book for someone rather than lend them my precious copy, especially when I own a hardcover version and the book has also been released in paperback.

Marissa Doyle said...

Oh yes--and Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrgh!

Regina Scott said...

I always think of books like friends. I don't invite strangers into my home (I'm hesitant to pick up a book by an unknown author). So, if I can be introduced by another friend or go on a short date by getting the book from the library, I'm much more willing to commit to a longer-term relationship. :-)

Anonymous said...

So I'm not a published author YET, but here's my two cents. I think it's so bizarre that some authors don't like libraries because they see it as cutting into their income. First of all, it gets the author exposure, and if someone loves the book, that could well translate into another book sale. Second of all, are we as writers really in this for the money? Aren't we in this business because we love books, love stories, and love sharing our stories with others?

But anyway, yes, I borrow and lend books. I mostly borrow from the library, and about the only person I lend books to is my neighbor. And wow, there sure are a lot of library employees out there! I used to work at a library, too.

Nathalie Mallet said...

Hi Tia,

I agree with Marissa and Lisa on this, book borrowing is a good thing! As a published author, I love the idea that some reader may like my book enough to mention it to others and lend it to them. Hey, there is always a chance they’ll get hooked. ;)

The Stephanie Plum books are great! I’m a fan!

David Anthony Durham said...

Hi Tia,

I'll be brief...

Libraries are great. Of course they are! We homeschool and because of that visit our local libraries almost daily. My kids love books and reading. They'll be book buyers for life.

As for my own books, I can only hope (and believe) that a book borrowed today leads to a sale later on. I need the sales, of course, but for that to happen I also know word of mouth and hand to hand book passing can plant seeds and nurture them for later. I'm in this for the long game.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks for everyone's opinions!

I guess this is also the reason some authors and publishers release free electronic versions of their novels. I don't know about you, but after about fifty pages or so, I start getting cross-eyed and I need to either stop reading or buy the book. And if the book really has me hooked, guess what I do?