Friday, June 21, 2013

Who would think giving away books would be so hard?

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Earlier this week, I posted on Facebook that I had some large-print editions of my books to give away.  In fact, six of them.  All I asked is that they go to a library that would NOT immediately toss them to the Friends of the Library's next sale for a quarter.

The silence was deafening.

In these days of slashed library budgets, you would think that libraries would WANT to stock books.  I'm not talking used, dog-earred books.  I'm talking brand new, hardcover (well, 4 of them were), books that retail for $35 dollars EACH.  (The softcovers?  They retail for $25.)

Several people piped up that they would condescend to take them but only if they weren't older than five years old.  (They weren't. In fact, One Hot Murder is only four months old.) But then, they didn't follow through and contact me ... so I guess they didn't really want them after all.

Several of my author friends looked to see if they could find homes for the books.  One of them, asked the retirement/assisted living center where her parents live.  Nope.  They do NOT accept ANY books.  One of them, who had recently gifted her new-to-her library (she moved to a new town) with half a dozen of her large print books, which were apparently gracefully received, but found that none of them had been added to the library's catalog.  Yup, sold for a quarter each at the last sale. 

I know it costs money to catalog a book.  I know it takes time.  But I also know that visually-impaired people who cannot afford an e-reader so that they can change the font size of a book, and can't afford to buy large print books, are hungry for something--ANYTHING--to read.  This fact was driven home to me by my mother-in-law who, at age 99, has lost the capacity to read. It's the only pleasure she has left. (We've got an appointment with a surgeon to talk about cataract surgery, but it isn't until August.  That's a LONG time when you cannot read. And BTW, the assisted living center where she lives joyfully accepts large print books--and, in fact, ANY books for their library.)

Two lovely librarians did step up to the plate.  They contacted me off Facebook and the books will be mailed today.  One library is getting four of them (including all three Victoria Square books), and the other will get one Victoria Square (One Hot Murder) and one Booktown (Sentenced to Death).  And ... when I get the next large print edition, they will be the first people I contact to give copies to.

The libraries are:   The Bridgeview Public Library (in Bridgeview, IL) and the Sudlersville Memorial Library in Sudlersville, MD. 

I hope my stories will bring a smile to the visually impaired citizens of these towns and give them a few hours of entertainment.  But I can't help thinking of all the other libraries around the country that don't have many large print books and how if given the opportunity to voice an opinion, their patrons would have welcomed a new book to their shelves.