The eternal question – do you buy the book or borrow the book from the library? Which actually supports the author more? Which supports the community more? Which supports society more?
These are all questions I’m sure that serious readers have considered.
Now just because I work in a library doesn’t mean that I never buy books. In fact I think I might buy books even more than the next person, as it’s so easy for me to fall in love with books that I think that I cannot live without. I have to have my own personal, private copy that nobody else owns.
Morally, I like to borrow as much as I can from my local library as I understand how important it is to keep statistics good for public buildings, such as these. So I will always try to read a book initially through a library, unless I am lucky enough to be sent a proof by a publisher.
But then, what if you’re walking past a book shop, or through an airport or even a charity shop and something catches your eye? Are you being disloyal to libraries if you were to purchase this book for yourself? Well, definitely not! Depending on where you buy it from, you are supporting the shop itself, as they will get some money, the publishers will get some money and the author will get some money.
As far as monetarily, you are supporting authors even when you borrow from libraries. All authors can register for PLR or Public Lending Right payments for each book that they publish. This is a legal right to payment from government each time their books are borrowed from public libraries. It may not be as much as they would receive when selling a book through a bookshop but it definitely isn’t to be sniffed at.
As far as an average price for UK royalties if published through one of the big UK publishing houses, for a book that has an RRP of £10 the author will receive around 25-28p.
Of course, the issue of space is a bit of a problem for book lovers as well! I honestly think I may have to create another room in my house for all my books soon! So, a good reason to make good use of the library.
So to buy or borrow? Is there an strict answer? I don’t really ever think that there can be. Both are equally important and can be equally supportive of the author and the writing art form. What we should be more concerned about is the act of reading itself, and having the access to books to read and making sure that reading for pleasure is always something that is encouraged.
Thanks for reading!