After reading this past week’s Entertainment Weekly – specifically Steven King’s column The Pop of King, I was sure that Uncle Stevie was on an old man rant – “Taint no quality in dem moo-vin pitchers no more!”
I argued with my husband about how quality art will find a way to rise, and that people in the digital age will be able to disseminate good literature and film without the ONE thing that a publisher and film companies provide – ready distribution. My thoughts were bolstered by Nathan Bransford’s blog yesterday – where he , a literary agent, debated the need for authors to have publishers in the future.
I was all – take that Steven King. Until, however my library contacted me. It went something like this:
Library: Despite search attempts via Interlibrary Loan, we are unable to obtain The Glass Coffin, a Reginald Sterling Adventure: scientific romance in Victorian New England (Reeves).
ME: Perhaps you could buy it (and I provided a link to AMAZON).
Library: Attempts were made to purchase this title without success.
ME: Is this a case where the book is only available at Amazon, and you are only allowed to buy from certain vendors? If so, I will happily purchase the book as a gift to the library if you are willing to catalog it. Is that arrangement possible?
Library: I’m sorry, but the library does not accept donations of individual titles. The selector who initially handled your request as a potential purchase consideration has indicated that the title is not available from vendors and may have limited availability as it appears to be a print-on-demand title. The selector then forwarded your request to me in Interlibrary Loan in an attempt for us to obtain it for you. Unfortunately, the title is not listed on the Interlibrary Loan database which confirms limited availability. I attempted to obtain the title via Interlibrary Loan by requesting it from a number of larger library systems but all responded that they did not own the title.
Please telephone me at … if you should have further questions regarding your request.
So – reading between the lines: I can’t get a book from my library unless another library already has it and is willing to share it. Did I read that right? When I was a reporter, I more than once heard “Is another network covering it? They are? Oh we should be there.” Sickening.
Perhaps Uncle Stevie is right. Quality is dead. I only requested this book because it was highly recommended – BY SOMEONE WHO READ IT! I want my library to have it, because I think Steampunk is a great genre. I offer to pay and they still say no. Libraries are supposed to be the final bastion of intellectual equality, but it seems that it’s more like the Studio 54 – can’t get past the velvet ropes unless you are on the list.
So much for my thoughts about self publishing…