Publishers Who Screw Public Libraries Should Die

No More New Penguin Digital Audiobooks For Libraries, Either

The latest restrictions come about two months after Penguin announced that it would no longer offer any new e-books through libraries.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

This isn’t the only publisher screwing with public libraries:

HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations

While HarperCollins is the first major publisher to amend the terms of loan for its titles, two other members of the publishing “big six”—Macmillan and Simon & Schuster—still do not allow ebooks to be circulated in libraries, much to the consternation of librarians.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

When publishers get up on their hind legs and bray about how they contribute to the culture, you can now tell them they’re nothing but greedy bastards who are full of themselves and totally full of shit.

They are enemies of the culture!

Public libraries create the culture — and create their future writers!

Here are just three very prominent examples:

Writer Og Mandino’s introduction to this book:

Many years ago, through my own stupidities and faults, I lost everything that was precious to me — my family, my home and my job. Nearly penniless, and with no guidance, I began to wander the country, searching for myself and for some answers that would make my life bearable.

I spent much time in public libraries because they were free — and warm. I read everything from Plato to Peale, seeking that one message that would explain to me where I had gone wrong — and what I could do to salvage the remainder of my life.

I finally found my answer in W. Clement Stone’s and Napoleon Hill’s Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. I have employed the simple techniques and methods found in this classic for more than fifteen years, and they have provided me with riches and happiness far beyond anything I deserve. From a penniless vagrant without a single root, I eventually became the president of two corporations and the executive editor of the finest magazine of its kind in the world, Success Unlimited. I also wrote six books — and one of them, The Greatest Salesman in the World, has now become the best-selling book for salespeople of all time: it has been translated into fourteen languages and has sold more than three million copies.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

How many millions of dollars were returned to publishing because Og Mandino could read books for free?

And I’ve previously cited both Charles Bukowski and Ayn Rand, which I will repeat here:


I was a young man, starving and drinking and trying to be a writer. I did most of my reading at the downtown L.A. Public Library, and nothing that I read related to me or to the streets or to the people about me. It seemed as if everybody was playing word-tricks, that those who said almost nothing at all were considered excellent writers. Their writing was an admixture of subtlety, craft and form, and it was read and it was taught and it was ingested and it was passed on. It was a comfortable contrivance, a very slick and careful Word-Culture. One had to go back to the pre-Revolution writers of Russia to find any gamble, any passion. There were exceptions but those exceptions were so few that reading them was quickly done, and you were left staring at rows and rows of exceedingly dull books. With centuries to look back on, with all their advantages, the moderns just weren’t very good.

I pulled book after book from the shelves. Why didn’t anybody say something? Why didn’t anybody scream out?


I kept on walking around the big room, pulling the books off the shelves, reading a few lines, a few pages, then putting them back.

Then one day I pulled a book down and opened it, and there it was. I stood for a moment, reading. Then like a man who had found gold in the city dump, I carried the book to a table. The lines rolled easily across the page, there was a flow. Each line had its own energy and was followed by another like it. The very substance of each line gave the page a form, a feeling of something carved into it. And here, at last, was a man who was not afraid of emotion. The humor and the pain were intermixed with a superb simplicity. The beginning of that book was a wild and enormous miracle to me.

I had a library card. I checked the book out, took it to my room, climbed into my bed and read it, and I knew long before I had finished that here was a man who had evolved a distinct way of writing. The book was Ask the Dust and the author was John Fante. He was to be a lifetime influence on my writing.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

The influence of Bukowski on countless writers, musicians, and filmmakers is immeasurable. How many millions of dollars did his work generate for all of those fields because he was able to read books for free?

Ayn Rand met her future husband in a public library:

Without Frank O’Connor in her life, would publishing had ever gotten her books? Ayn Rand, held up as justification for the noxious Dollar Uber Alles philosophy strangling all of us today, started out as a writer because she could read books for free.

There isn’t a single real writer in all of America who doesn’t acknowledge their debt to a local public library.

There are writers who have donated their own books to public libraries. Because they understand the good it does — for themselves and for all of us.

Public libraries are the soil from which writers grow.

Any publisher that screws public libraries is cutting off its own future. It might as well shut down and liquidate right now.


Filed under Public Libraries

6 responses to “Publishers Who Screw Public Libraries Should Die

  1. Bill Hough

    Why are publishers putting all of these restrictions on e-books? Simply, because they (technically) can. No doubt the fact that a library can buy a book, put it on a shelf, and let countless people read it really pisses off the publishing suits. So, e-books come along and publishers put all these use restrictions and proprietary formats out there because the technology lets them. It’s like the bullshit “regions” on DVDs.

    Personally, I refuse to deal with e-books. One day I might be dragged kicking and screaming into Best Buy to get an iPad, but for now if I want to read a book I’ll get the dead tree edition.

    What’s the solution? I have government over-regulation, so I’d like to see a boycott of e-books with use limitations.

    • mikecane

      At some point, the European Union — in whatever form it still exists — will step in and demand sensible changes. Don’t look to America for that. Our regulators and legislators are a bunch of paid-for whores. But once the EU shows the way, I’d expect a Me-Too pile-on over here as well. Especially if the Internet leans on them, as we’ve done this week against SOPA and PIPA.

  2. anonymous

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Quoting Ayn Rand as an example of why authors shouldn’t be compensated for their works? That they should just give away their hard work for free? Why, they might just go all John Galt on us! Wouldn’t they?

    Reallly, the confusion you present on your blog concerning whether and how author’s should be compensated for their efforts is hypocritical and mind-boggling non-logical.

    • mikecane

      Where did you get it into your mind that books should be given away free to libraries? The confusion is in your Rand-rotted mind.

  3. Pingback: It’s time to start blaming publishers for the troubles of the publishing industry | Chamber Four

  4. Pingback: It’s time to start blaming publishers for the troubles of the publishing industry | Chamber Four Archive

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