Rest in Peace, Cynthia G. Hurd

Cynthia G. Hurd, librarian, among nine killed in terrorist attack on Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. - peoplewhowrite

On Wednesday June 17th, Cynthia G. Hurd, manager of St. Andrews Regional Library branch in Charleston, SC, was among nine Bible Study Attendees murdered in a terrorist attack on Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. All 16 of the Charleston County Public Library’s branches were closed Thursday in her honor. She would have turned 55 this Sunday June 21st.

Hachette Joins Penguin, S&S in Allowing Libraries to Loan New E-Books

Hachette Book Group - peoplewhowriteStarting next week, libraries will have the full Hachette book catalogue at their disposal in ebook form. The book publisher joins Simon and Schuster and Penguin in granting libraries the right to loan newly released ebooks. Amaerican Library Association President Maureen Sullivan praised the move saying it “recognizes the critical role that libraries play in bringing authors and readers together in the digital age.” Publishers Weekly reports Hachette made the decision based on their goal to provide  “the broadest possible access to authors’ work in a manner that will benefit readers, libraries, and authors.”

In a recent New York Times op-ed, author Scott Turow questioned the motives of libraries and other book industry players, writing: “It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.” Sullivan fired back, “there is nothing nefarious in our goal to offer e-books to local library cardholders; rather, it is an extension of our desire to connect authors and readers regardless of format.”

Publishers Weekly explained the financials as follows:

For Hachette, new e-books will be released simultaneously with print, and available for an unlimited number of circulations (one copy per user) at roughly “three times the primary physical book price.” One year after publication, the purchase price will drop by roughly half. A Hachette spokesperson said the company will review its library pricing model annually, and will continue ongoing discussions with stakeholders “such as the American Library Association.”


Writers will need to stay on top of this to ensure they’re getting the appropriate cut from the library loans.

American Library Association Fires Back at Turow's NYT Op-Ed

Maureen Sullivan, Presidet of American Library Association - peoplewhowrite

Maureen Sullivan

Earlier this week, Authors Guild President and bestselling author of Presumed Innocent Scott Turow wrote a New York Times op-ed that called a new SCOTUS ruling on copyrights a factor in “The Slow Death of the American Author.” Turow wrote: “It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense,” and American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan did not like it.

In a response NYT op-ed of her own, Sullivan fired back:

First, librarians love authors. Our business is knowledge-building and imagination, and writers form the backbone of our nonprofit exercise in supporting and promoting lifelong learning.

Second, there is nothing nefarious in our goal to offer e-books to local library cardholders; rather, it is an extension of our desire to connect authors and readers regardless of format.

I think everyone involved in publishing is trying to figure out how to survive all the changes that have upended the traditional business model, and alliances continue to shift. That said, I don’t think libraries are out to get writers by loaning readers new ebook releases. Sullivan makes sure to point out, “Libraries want to buy your work at a reasonable price so that we may continue to grow readers — and writers — in the digital age.” I just think the money talks need to be had in light of all the changes so writers get compensated fairly wherever and whenever the sale is made.

You can read Sullivan’s full rebuttal “Libraries and Authors” here.

Digital Public Library of America Set to Launch April 18th

Digital Public Library of America - peoplewhowrite

visit for more information

Scribes, there’s a new library in town. According to a post on, “The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge.”

Being a Librarian is Supposedly the 9th Least Stressful Job

Librarians are supposedly among the least stressed according to Galley Cat/Career Cast - peoplewhowrite

A peaceful librarian

Is being a librarian one the least stressful jobs? According to Career Cast it is. Citing a “peaceful atmosphere and unlimited access to literature”, the post asserts the bookish find the library a haven. Comments on the post disagree, as do I.

Every time I’ve been to the library, the poor librarian is facing an endless line of people waiting to ask “a quick question.” Either that or hushing rowdy after school crowds and reminding homeless people they can’t sleep in the stacks. But maybe that’s just the librarians in New York. Do you agree with Career Cast‘s finding?

The Changing Role of the Library

Amidst the seismic shifts taking place in the publishing industry, the role of the library has evolved.  Today’s New York Times posits that libraries are borrowing from the bookstore model, stocking their shelves with popular titles like Fifty Shades of Grey to keep pace with reading trends — at the expense of maintaining their cultural position as gatekeepers of literary excellence.

The piece goes on to say libraries are adopting this strategy to hold on to their relevance in the digital age. As bookstores (chain and independent) cede market share to Amazon, with many being forced to shutter, libraries are picking up the slack, hoping to be the free alternative to bookstores and Starbucks for readers and researchers.

I really hope this strategy works to keep libraries solvent.

In the past few years, libraries across the country and around the world have been assailed by/threatened with devastating cuts. In Troy, Michigan, the library had to resort to a fake book burning party to save itself. In New York, the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg nearly chopped $96 million from the budget — a move that would have disabled the library’s ability to stay open at least five days a week. In London, multiple libraries have had to close their doors for good including the Kenal Rise Public Library which Mark Twain unveiled in 1900. Just last month, staff at the British Library planned to strike against austerity measures.

Publishing industry changes notwithstanding, our local libraries have had to pick up the slack for a lot of social issues the government has failed to prioritize. Libraries have acted as After School Programs/babysitting for latchkey kids, daytime shelters for the homeless, and de facto mental institutions. Clearly, when the stone of change drops on one sector of society/business, the ripples are felt everywhere eventually in good and bad ways.

What’s important with respect to libraries is that we help them stay open even as we advocate for laws/social spending measures that alleviate the pressures libraries face. We need to support libraries’ transition into the digital age. Because, in spite of all the reports that show more Americans consuming their reading materials digitally, the truth is not everyone has a Kindle/iPad/Nook/computer. Not everyone has 24-hour internet access.

Outside of the library, there is no free place the public can congregate for the sole purpose of reading, writing, and researching. Obviously, as writers, but also as readers and citizens, libraries are priceless no matter what our situation.

A Trained Librarian is a Powerful Search Engine with a Heart

peoplewhowrite_a trained librarian is a search engine with heart_via writeteacherThe Write Teacher posted this picture on Facebook and it made me smile, as I just got back from a library search expedition this evening. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in different libraries across Manhattan and Queens over the last three years, doing research for my second and third books, but tonight, I had a moment.

I was looking for a specific book, a 19th century translation from a book written in the 14th century, and the call number the librarian needed to use to retrieve the book had been entered incorrectly. After trying to trace the book, she called for help from another librarian who eventually gave me the bad news the book was not at their branch. She sat with me as I located the book (online) at another library. I left Manhattan for Queens to get the book and as I plucked it from a “will-call” shelf where it stood waiting for me, I thought to myself, “These people [librarians] handle gold.” I also said a mental “thank you” to the women and man that spent nearly an hour helping me find this book across two boroughs–and to the person whose idea it was to start a library in the first place. Thank God for libraries, and for librarians.