On Saturday, October 8, 2016, I will be at the Bloomingdale Branch of the Van Buren District Library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At 1:00 p.m. I will be talking about my books, writing, and the various ways of getting published.
If you don’t live on the west side of Michigan, you may never have heard of Bloomingdale. Even if you do live on this side, you may not have heard of the village. Yes, it’s a village, not a town or a city. The 2010 Census has the population at 454. It’s a farming community about 18 miles east of Lake Michigan. If you’re driving through on County Road 388 you might miss the library. I did the first time I was there. The library is part of the Bloomingdale Municipal Center.
It’s a small library but an important one to the community, as are most of the small, branch libraries throughout Michigan. Over the years libraries have changed to meet the needs of their communities and to incorporate the new digital age. No longer are they simply locations where people can find books and do research, they are also digital centers, gathering places for meetings (book clubs, writing groups), and sometimes shelters for the homeless.
Some writers look down on sales to libraries. They feel it’s like one person buying a book and then passing it around to all of their friends to read. And, in a way, they’re right. Most libraries will only purchase one copy of a book. (They don’t have the funds to purchase more than one copy or the space to shelve it unless the book is extremely popular.) However, if every library and branch library in the United States purchased a copy of my book (there are an estimated 119,487 libraries of all kinds in the U.S. today according to an ALA Library fact sheet), I’d be very happy. But, alas, only a fraction of that number would ever purchase one of my books, sometimes because of the focus of the library, but more often due to limited funds. Cuts in Federal funding for libraries produce a double negative effect because they’re usually matched with state funding.
For two years I was on the board and worked as a volunteer for the Lawrence Memorial Library (the only all volunteer library in Michigan) in Climax. During that time I saw how limited funds were and how difficult it was decide how to spend that money. During that time I also saw the value of interacting with librarians so my name and my books were more than a review in the Library Journal.
I love libraries. (For the last ten years I’ve been under contract with a publisher who sells primarily to libraries.) Libraries allow people who might never buy one of my books, due to the cost, to read my stories. And I’ve had readers who first borrowed one of my books from the library follow up by purchasing a copy for themselves because they wanted one to keep.
I’m always excited when asked to speak at a library or be a part of a library’s book-oriented function. If you are anywhere nearby on Saturday, do stop by and say “Hi.”