Our creek is fed by seep springs that well up from the limestone substrate here at Meadow Knoll, and by the adjacent little lake. But while Hurricane Harvey kept East Texas very wet last year, we got less rain than usual. The lake is a puddle and what's left of the creek are small, spring-fed pools. That's where the Louisiana iris--a bog plant native to the cypress swamps--is blooming. It's the state wildflower of Louisiana, and survives in our drier climate only where there's a reliable source of moisture. The tubers are persistent. Some years they produce many blooms, this year only a few, around the roots of the cypress trees. The Gulf of Mexico produces our late spring and summer weather--hoping for rain!
A reader recently apologized to me for borrowing my books from her library instead of buying them from a bookstore. I have the feeling that other readers may share her point of view. I'd like to reassure you: libraries are absolutely necessary to the health of the publishing industry and authors' continuing livelihood.
This is an especially challenging time for publishers, large ones like Random House and Hatchette and small ones like my little Persevero Press. Bookstore shelf space is rapidly declining as more and more brick-and-mortar stores close--for a while, it's been something like 20% a year. And publishing is a returns-based industry that allows bookstores to basically operate on consignment. That is, while bookstores may order several thousand hardcover copies, they have the privilege of returning the unsold books to the publisher's warehouse. If Barnes and Noble (for instance) orders 1000 copies, it is likely to sell only 500 (for a "sell-through" of 50%). The returned 500 books sit in the warehouse until they are sold as remainders or pulped.
I've read that this return policy was instituted during WW2, when paper was hard to get, book sales were very low, and bookstores couldn't survive without help. The policy definitely supports bookstores, which is good, yes, indeed. And most small/independent bookstores order what they know they'll sell. They're mindful of what's on their shelves and what their readers are likely to buy.
But some bookstores (especially the chains that proliferated during the 1980s and 90s), abuse the policy by over-ordering (often by 100%) and returning late. Barnes and Noble, for instance, is notorious for its low sell-through. This runs up the cost of the printed book, which comes out of your pocket, dear reader. Privately, publishers hate this policy, but the consequences of ending it are probably worse than continuing it. So we're all pretty much stuck with an out-of-date system that increases costs, wastes resources, and frustrates publishers and authors.
Libraries are different. Of course, libraries are wonderful for many, many reasons. But for publishers, they are a blessing. When a publisher sends a book to a library, it doesn't get returned. (Unless, of course, it's defective.) Libraries order for their shelves, their budgets, and their patrons. They never over-order. In this context, five thousand books sent to libraries are "equal" to ten thousand (or more) books sent to bookstores. This lowers the cost of the book to the publisher, allows some authors to continue writing, and keeps the book trade healthy. Believe me. Authors and publishers love libraries. Absolutely love them.
So please, please, please, readers, never apologize for borrowing a book from a library. In fact, the next time you borrow one of my books, thank your librarian, from me. And save a heaping helping of my thanks for yourself, for a very important personal and highly selfish reason. Libraries only buy books that they know will circulate. By borrowing that book, you're helping to support my addiction to writing for readers. Which is my favorite thing to do in the whole, wide world. Thank you for allowing me to continue doing it.
Reading note. The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.--Albert Einstein