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Author Scott Turow: Libraries are the enemy!

Tom Jackson • Apr 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Author Scott Turow, who writes legal thrillers, recently wrote a long rant in the New York Times about "The Slow Death of the American Author." 

Mr. Turow has a long list of mostly wrongheaded gripes about the supposed dire plight of modern authors. For the most part, I agree with the rebuttal written by Mike Masnick of Techdirt. 

But as local libraries celebrate National Library Week, I want to highlight a paragraph Turow wrote about the supposed bad behavior of public libraries:

Now many public libraries want to lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection. In this new reality, the only incentive to buy, rather than borrow, an e-book is the fact that the lent copy vanishes after a couple of weeks. As a result, many publishers currently refuse to sell e-books to public libraries.

This is a bizarre criticism. Long before the existence of ebooks, nobody ever had to pay for a book if he didn't want to. A reader could always check the book out of library if she didn't want to pay for it, and use interlibrary loan to obtain any book that wasn't on a local shelf. Readers who want to keep an ebook and be able to go back to it again and again will still have to buy it.

Most readers behave as I do: They borrow some of their books from the library and they buy some of them. Libraries aid the marketplace by bringing authors to the attention of readers. They particularly help little-known authors who aren't as rich and famous as Scott Turow.

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