Recently a fair few folks have apologised to me for reading my books, but not buying them. “I borrowed them from the library. Sorry!” “I borrowed them from a friend. Sorry!” “I just can’t afford to buy as many books as I want.”
Never apologise for borrowing a book. On the big scale, borrowing books is good because that’s what keeps libraries alive: the more people who borrow books from libraries the more likely they are to be funded. And the more libraries there are the more people who are reading. Most people can’t afford to buy every single book they want to read. I know I can’t. That’s why we have libraries. That is a very very good thing.
Borrowing books from your friends and talking about them is excellent because it helps strengthen friendships and build communities. Plus it’s one of the best ways of finding out about good books. I heartily approve of borrowing and lending books. Why, I even do it myself.
I also approve of books being loaned and borrowed because it helps my career. Every time someone borrows one of my books from a library that justifies that book’s existence there. And if it’s borrowed often enough and starts to fall apart, the library will order more copies. Or if it has an excessively long wait because too many people want it, the library will order more copies.1
Certain books I loan out to friends never return, so I buy another copy. There are books I’ve borrowed from friends, that I loved so much, I bought my own copy.
All of which helps the author of those books.
Word of mouth is the most powerful tool in helping a book sell. What better word of mouth could a book have than lots of people eagerly borrowing and lending it? If reading a book for free destroyed a book’s chances of success then why do publishing companies give away thousands upon thousands of copies of books in the form of Advanced Readers Copies (ARCs) every single year?
It can’t just be because they’re crazy. Though maybe I should ask Maureen? She knows everything.
To recap: borrowing books is good.
- I’m assuming a well-funded library. Sadly, that’s not always the case. [↩]