Monday, February 22, 2010

Just say no to book piracy!

I've been really worried about libraries in this time of economic blech because I feel that libraries are one of the things democracies (even representative ones) need if they really want to have a chance of working.  I've watched local libraries cut hours and services with great trepidation.  I've observed and seen people using bookstores in place of libraries, as a place for free book access. 

Just because you have free access to read books at bookstores doesn't really mean you should use them to replace libraries.  If there's one thing the economic blech has reminded us, it's that the (book)stores might not always be around, and if they go under at a time when libraries have had their funding so severely reduced, you're going to find yourself with no access to the books you love and want to support.  You'll be too poor to buy books, and the authors will be too poor to be able to write them, and the world as we know it will end.  The book pirates will probably "win," but what a sad victory it will be.

Use your library!  The more people use it, the easier it is for the government to justify giving libraries more increasingly limited government funds.  Everyone can use libraries, no matter how poor or homeless they are.  I want to support the kind of situation where people have something akin to free access to information regardless of socioeconomic status. 

Here's a fun endorsement for libraries and against evil book pirates from author Sara Zarr.  Definitely check out Laurie's post and the comments it engendered.

- Read Laurie Halse Anderson’s post about book piracy. Even successful authors like Laurie are not rich enough to give away books for free. But, really, it’s not about that. Though it pains me to say it, even authors who are bajillionaires and write slasher pulp with the help of a staff need to be paid for their work. That’s how it works. Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong. Borrowing, however, is perfectly legal, and that’s why we have libraries. “But my library doesn’t have your book.” Ask for it! You can request that your library system acquire the book. Get a few friends to do the same and chances are good it will eventually get into the collection. Meanwhile, there are thousands of other books to read while you wait! Hey, I am not nearly rich enough to buy every book that we want to read. I usually have 10-15 books checked out from the library at a time. The free library system is one of the things that makes this country great! No matter how poor you are, if you’ve got a library card and you can read, you are one powerful person.
If you love books, really love them, and you can't buy them, you need to use your library.  It's the only way to act with integrity.

Do you agree or disagree with that?  Your thoughts on book piracy?

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