Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

The Dangers of Library Book Sales

Ah, Squiders, library book sales. Dangerous, dangerous things, aren’t they? One of our local ones, in celebration of Western Welcome Week, is having a week-long one where you can fill up an entire bag of books for $3.

Three. Dollars. For a bag of books! And they had a ton of old scifi and fantasy, authors I’ve wanted to read but haven’t gotten to because my normal library system doesn’t have them and they’re out of print.

(I also grabbed some mysteries because I love mysteries. Mmmm, mysteries.)

I come from a family of bibliophiles, and our local book sale was called the Whale of a Book Sale (I mean, it still is, but I haven’t been in forever), and they would take over the main building at the local fair grounds and fill it with books. My sister and I would indiscriminately go through the entire bunch, grabbing whatever had a cool title or a neat cover. Dozens of books each. I am still reading books that I picked up as a kid. I read one last month, in fact.

Of course, there are some who disapprove of such sales. These are the same people who dislike used book stores, because the author gets nothing from a resale of a book. The numbers don’t count toward their publishing record if they’re traditionally published and rely on such numbers to get their next book published.

As an author, I can understand that view. It would be nice to be able to get more money each and every time someone else paid for one of my books. But, on the other hand, I really really enjoy hoarding books and being able to pick up new books and authors that I might not otherwise. I have read some really excellent books that I might not have touched otherwise. I mean, I have also read some really strange and/or otherwise horrible books. But most have been good. And the hope is, if someone picks up one of my books, I’ll gain a new fan too.

(My husband misses the point. Every book he bought at the sale he checked out on Amazon first to see how they were rated. Where is the fun in that?)

(Also, I would recommend Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane, which I picked up at one of those library book sales when I was younger and really enjoyed a few years ago.)

Anyway, it might be fun to do a segment here on the blog about the library book sale books as I get through them. So look for that in the coming months. I’m reading Lost in a Good Book (Jasper Fforde) and The Martian (Andy Weir) at the moment and I think I’ll pick one of the new books up  when I finish one of those.

Do you love library book sales, Squiders? Can you control yourselves? Ever picked up anything really excellent at one?

The Debate on Genre Separation

My friend Sarah is a librarian at an elementary school. She’s been working on this big project, suggested by the kids, to separate all the books into their respective fiction genres.

She even let the kids pick out what genres they wanted (such as “animal fiction”). Now that’s a good librarian.

I highly approve of said project, because I also prefer my genres to be separated out. As a kid, I used to roam the stacks, looking specifically for the telltale “fantasy” and “science fiction” stickers they use to differentiate genre. It was a bit frustrating.

So count me in. I would live in a science fiction/fantasy section.

But then I got to thinking. One of the biggest complaints against the traditional publishing industry is that if they can’t figure out where it’ll go on a shelf, they won’t buy a story, no matter how good it is. It doesn’t quite work here, because a library wouldn’t reject a book based on a strange genre; they’d just put it in the general literature section.

But a magical realism book might get shelved general literature over science fiction/fantasy, and then a potential reader might never find it if they didn’t venture outside their chosen genre.

And, one could argue, it’s kind of fun to wander the stacks, pulling out books with neat titles or fun covers and seeing which ones catch your fancy. Heck, I got into fantasy that way. Pulled the Sword of Shannara off my elementary school’s library shelf and haven’t looked back since.

So, Squiders, how do you feel about separating genres at the library? Want all your scifi/fantasy, mystery, romance in convenient boxes? Prefer to have everything all mixed together? How does your local library have things set up, and what would you change?


Pay no attention to this bit. Just doing some internet bookkeeping. 6K7GGUJQHTWX

Creating the Right Atmosphere

Perhaps you’re the sort of person who can write anywhere – even at the dining room table while your offspring scream bloody murder and beat each other with foam swords. You are a lucky person.

For the rest of us who need to be at least somewhat in a good frame of mind to get work done, this post is for you.

This will vary from person to person. A lot of people like to create their own little writing cave, with inspirational artwork on the walls and their desk laid out just so for the best writing efficiency. Others just need any sort of flat, clean surface, as long as its either quiet and/or bright and/or you are the only one and so no one can bother you.

If you’re having trouble focusing, take a look at the environment you’re trying to work in. Is it messy? Clutter, for whatever reason, often manages to be subconsciously distracting enough to throw you off. Is it bright? If the room’s too dark, you might find yourself getting drowsy. Is it noisy? Sometimes it can be hard to focus around a lot of extraneous noise. Some people can listen to music to drown out random noise; others cannot.

Experiment with music, lighting, and location to see what works best for your creative juices. Sometimes you will need to leave the house to get work done – try a variety of coffee shops, libraries, and book stores – any place that’s willing to let you sit at a table for a few hours for the price of a mocha (or less) – and see if you can find one that suits you. My favorite one is painted with cheerful colors, has lots of natural light, and contains a constant low hum of happy customers.

Do you have any tips to share? What works for you?

Coffee Shops vs. Libraries

If you’re like me, occasionally you like to escape from the house and sit somewhere else so you can pretend that you have some semblance of a social life.

The first place I ever visited on a regular basis was a lovely place known as the Tea Spot.  They almost always had room for me to sit for several hours, drinking copious amounts of tea and eating chocolate and scones.  (They had the best scones.  No unnecessary fruit.)

From there, I moved on to coffee shops.  I don’t actually like coffee, but I have made do.  There’s something very hipster about sitting in a coffee shop, tiny computer out, drinking your peppermint mocha, headphones in but not necessarily listening to anything.

I like coffee shops, I really do.  But they have their drawbacks.  The main one being that you have to buy something.  I mean, no one’s going to hunt you down and make you have a latte or whatever, but basic courtesy says if you’re going to take up main table space for a few hours, you should give them something in return.  Also, they may give you the evil eye and set your car on fire.

Secondly, they tend to be noisy.  Writers love coffee shops.  Unfortunately, so do book clubs, study groups, teenagers, and noodle-eating smokers.  Sometimes it’s fine.  Sometimes you want to stab people in the eye with a pen.

They also tend to be crowded.  You walk in wondering if there’s any good tables left – or any tables at all – or if you’re going to have to stuff yourself into some odd corner.  And if you have a group of people coming…well.

As an alternative, I’ve started going to my local library to get some work done.  It’s quiet, there are plenty of places to work, the wifi works great, and if you need to do research, you are surrounded by books.  No baristas staring at you willing you to buy caffeine.  One could argue that it is, perhaps, too quiet, but that is a silly concern. (Besides, you can still bring headphones and listen to music.)

Where’s your favorite place to write?  Any preference on the type of venue?

Ode to Libraries

I currently have ten books out from the library.  I have read, oh, two and a half and they are due on Thursday, alas.  But that’s not the point.

Is there anything better than libraries?  I think not. 

I read a ridiculous amount, usually 50+ books a year, though it depends on a number of factors.  Mostly fantasy, mysteries, science fiction, the odd romance, classic, nonfiction, etc, but my point is that I read much more than I could ever hope to buy in a year.  Plus I’m not spending money on books that I may not like or ever want to read again.  I can experiment with genres I’m unfamiliar with and check out recommendations from friends or books I need for book clubs.  IT IS BRILLIANT.

Besides, even in this era of Google, sometimes it’s easier and/or faster to do research at the library, and they offer a quiet place to work and free internet on which to do said work.

Libraries, what can’t they do?  Highly landsquid recommended.

And onto the actual ode:

I like libraries
They are sublime
As long as you
Return books on time

EDIT: If you’d like to help keep libraries open and available, please visit Save the Libraries.