Author Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories line of children’s books, says that libraries are a drag on taxpayers and “no longer relevant.”
I think he’s an idiot.
“I’m not attacking libraries, I’m attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant,” Deary told the Guardian, pointing out that the original Public Libraries Act, which gave rise to the first free public libraries in the UK, was passed in 1850. “Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that,” said Deary…
Bullshit. Of course he’s attacking libraries. All those people reading his books for free. (Bastards!)
I wonder if it’s worth noting that public libraries in the U.S. had very little to do with the Victorian example, and everything to do with a Scottish gentleman named Carnegie who thought that public libraries were essential to self-improvement, and led to success in life. (Nah!) For that matter, I seem to remember the Victorian age had a lot more to do with subjugating two thirds of the planet in the name of the crown than educating the masses, but hey, what do I know?
HuffPo followed up by noting that Deary is actually paid by the British government when his book is borrowed. When this was pointed out to him, Deary became incensed:
As one of the most popular library authors – his books were borrowed more than 500,000 times during 2011/12 – Deary will have received the maximum amount possible for a writer from the Public Lending Right scheme, which gives authors 6.2p every time one of their books is borrowed, up to a cap of £6,600. “If I sold the book I’d get 30p per book. I get six grand, and I should be getting £180,000. But never mind my selfish author perception – what about the bookshops? The libraries are doing nothing for the book industry. They give nothing back, whereas bookshops are selling the book, and the author and the publisher get paid, which is as it should be.
Earth to Deavy: you did sell those books. To libraries. How the hell do you think those libraries acquired them in the first place? it’s not like publishers hand us books for free. (Donations, I agree, are another matter.)
On top of that, after those books were sold they continued to earn royalties through this amazing program. The British government is paying him every time someone read that book. This creep is sitting on the ultimate sweet spot for any author and he’s still complaining? Putz.
He goes on to declare that libraries are forcing book stores to close, and if there were such things as “car libraries” the automotive industry would collapse as well. Which is stupid because the average rental fleet owns 1.86 million vehicles. For all the problems with the auto industry, people renting cars is not one of them. If he want to decry the loss of book stores, he should try denouncing video games. Those are direct competitors to reading.
Libraries are a primary force for book sales. That is a fact.
You’ll notice he didn’t bother to wonder how many of the folks who discovered his work at the library went out and bought the books for their kids. Nor did he care that those volumes loaned out by libraries already counted as part of his total sales.
An author–even a best-selling children’s author–need not be a saint (Roald Dahl certainly wasn’t.) But it takes a particular mindset to see the act of reading as a zero sum game.
I mean, how big an asshole do you have to be for Neil Gaiman to call you “selfish & stupid . . . mostly selfish”?