Every week, I hear depressing news about reading. Library funds being cut, books being banned, publishers making it more difficult to borrow and share ebooks, changing public domain laws, book stores shrinking floor space for books. These last two weeks I read 2 pieces of news about publishers pulling audiobooks from Overdrive, the online library service. I use Overdrive for audiobooks a lot. I use audiobooks to expand my mind while doing mindless tasks. There's nothing intellectually stimulating about cleaning a toilet.
I can see why the publishers think this is a good idea. It's too easy to borrow now. We have the technology. We made it better. But, hear me out, is this a good idea? If the thinking is borrowers will convert to buyers, I think they are wrong. Not if the reader can't afford it. Not now anyway. If I could afford it, I would buy all the time. And maybe someday I will (after that mortgage is paid). But...by borrowing audio or paper books, I get to try out authors I wouldn't give a second glance. I might find a few I'm willing to buy when I have the money. I'm careful with my money. I don't throw it around willy-nilly. I don't take chances on authors whose work I'm unsure of. And...libraries buy books. They kinda need to.
A business should cultivate a culture where its customers will remain customers. If the alternative to borrowing means buying, there will be people who just won't read. They can't afford it. Take from someone who knows, once you get out of the habit of reading, it's hard to get back into it. You wouldn't think it now, but I went years without reading a book. I was "too busy." I got back into to it slowly. My library really helped me find authors I liked and whose books I ended up buying.
There are already so many people yelling that no one reads any more and that the book is dead. Why pull the plug on readers?
Anyway enough cranky.
Speaking of audiobooks, I listened to A Far Cry from Kensington this week. It was interesting. I'll have to gather my thoughts on that one. I also started Quiet by Susan Cain and it's giving me a lot to think about. I also won Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison on Twitter. Should be interesting.
Did everyone hear about the SOPA blackout this week? Here's Salty Ink's take on it and pretty much how I feel too.