I’m a little ashamed to admit that I haven’t set foot in a public library in over a decade, mostly because my library time has been spent at college libraries. I worked at my alma mater‘s library for four years while a student, and I love academic libraries, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a public one. However, in an effort to save my pocketbook and try new authors risk-free, I recently got a library card at my public library. Why I waited so long, I’ll never know. I live in a small town of only about 20,000 people with no bookstore in town, but we do have the main branch of the county library. It’s a nice building, and from what I can see, constantly busy. There are lots of programs for kids and adults, and the staff is particularly helpful. But their collection of fiction seems a bit…. spotty.
The library seems to have only parts of series, and not always the first book in the series. I was forewarned by friends, so it hasn’t been much of a surprise, but it has created some dilemmas. I stopped by yesterday to pick up the first books in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series. The library has books 1 – 3 and book 7. Does this strike you as odd? It does me. Lest you think that I mean they only had those books on the shelves, allow me to reassure you that as a former library employee, I know better than to make such assumptions! I checked the catalog and asked a librarian. They do indeed have only books 1 – 3 and 7 of the Kitty Norville series. And this is not limited to Carrie Vaughn’s books. Last weekend I checked out Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever series, and the library had books 1-2 and 4-5. Why not book 3? They have all the others in the series, plus one of her Highlander books.
I would very much like to ask how they make purchasing decisions, because I suspect this would clear up a lot of the mystery. From what I’ve seen online, most libraries make purchasing decisions based on patrons’ likes, bestseller lists, and library journal recommendations. Given that our town and county are so small and nationwide libraries are facing budget cuts, I’m curious how the librarians go about making what must be difficult decisions about purchases. I’d love to interview one of the librarians, so maybe I can work that out one of these days. Yesterday the library was hopping, so I didn’t want to take up the librarians’ time when there were so many patrons needing assistance.
Visiting the library has been lots of fun, mostly because I get to leave with as many books as I want for free. Yay, free books! It has also reminded me how much I love my Kindle. It is just so much easier to read my Kindle one handed while in bed, cooking, walking the dog, grading papers, etc. Plus I don’t have to get dressed in something other than sweats or pajamas and put on a minimum of make-up in case I see someone I know. And you KNOW I would see someone I know if I were wearing my sweats to the library. They would then have to rescind my Southern Belle (SB) membership card. The horrors! (This could also happen if I didn’t match my accessories or wear lipstick.) My Kindle makes maintaining the illusion of Southern Belle-ness a lot easier, let me tell you! Fortunately, Amazon recently announced that later this year they’ll be allowing library lending on the Kindle, so I’m very excited about that. Hopefully my local library will participate, but since they don’t lend ebooks at the moment, I’m not sure what will happen. And I’m sure that would add one more headache to purchasing decisions, since most normal/sane/non-accessory matching patrons don’t have ereaders.
But since their collection of series is incomplete for some authors, I’ve run into a dilemma. First, with Moning’s books (and you can bet the DH had some snarky comments about pronouncing her last name), I had to decide if I should wait to read books 4 and 5 after somehow getting a copy of book 3 elsewhere. I really didn’t want to buy book 3. I liked the series, but didn’t love it, so spending money was out of the question. Since I’m one of THOSE readers who skip to the end, of course I decided to go ahead and read books 4 and 5, and I don’t feel like I missed anything vital. But I really like Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series and want to continue reading it. I looked at the summaries for the other books in the series on Amazon, and I don’t want to skip ahead to book 7. Apparently I would miss a LOT by doing so (this seems more than a bit obvious, right?). Again, do I buy the books for my Kindle? They’re $6.99 each! Or I could order them in paperback off Amazon and get the 4-for-3 special like I did for Larissa Ione’s books, but then I’d only have books 4, 5, 6, and 8 and have spent 24-ish dollars, plus have to wait several days. Waiting? Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! And you can forget about waiting with no whining, which would not constitute reason for rescinding SB membership. Go figure.
A while ago a friend recommended paperbackswap.com, which seems like it could be a possible solution, but that’s assuming that the books I want are available and the person who posted them will actually mail them to me. I certainly have several books that I purchased on a whim that I could pass on. Usually I pass paperbacks that I enjoy but don’t want to keep on to my mother-in-law, but she’s not a fan of paranormals, so now I’m stuck with several Lora Leigh stinkers. I’m already a member of Goodreads.com, and they have a bookswap program as well, but it costs between $3.50 and $4.75 a book because they add a small fee to the postage costs. Paperbackswap.com doesn’t do that; they charge nothing, but you can purchase postage and print it out at home if you wish. I have to think that media mail prices for a paperback would be less than $3.50, right? I’ve also considered purchasing books used from Amazon, but they tack $3.99 on for shipping. At that price, I should just buy the book new and get free shipping. But then there’s the waiting… ARGH!!!
Clearly, my book reading addiction has become a serious problem. I’d say I can stop whenever I want, but that’s so obviously a lie it’s not even funny. The Kindle has created a book devouring monster. Clearly, I need to get tons-o-followers for my blog, so the publishers will send me oodles of books for free to review. Then I wouldn’t have this problem. I could graciously pass those books on to the library when I’d finished, adding to their collection and the enjoyment of future book addicts. So if you’re reading this and you’re not a follower, become a follower. Consider it a service to the community – it sure beats having an intervention.