Children's Author Terry Deary Says Libraries are Bleeding Writers and Publishers, Calls For Their End
Terry Deary, author of the beloved children's books Horrible Histories, recently added his voice to a debate in the UK over whether to close library branches to save money. But unlike writers like Lee Hall, Lee Child, and Philip Pullman, amongst others, who have vehemently opposed all closures, Deary spoke in favor of the proposal.
Deary went on quite the rant to the Guardian about his views. And I quote:
'I'm not attacking libraries, I'm attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant,' Deary [said], 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.'
He follows this snobby, elitist rhetoric with much of the same. "Books aren't public property, and writers aren't Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They've got to make a living. Authors, booksellers and publishers need to eat. We don't expect to go to a food library to be fed."
This despite the fact all books available at libraries were purchased from the publisher, resulting in a royalty check for the author. Furthermore, Deary has actually made money every time one of his books were borrowed. The Public Lending Right grants authors 6.2p every time a citizen checks out one of their books, with an income cap of £6,600. Deary's titles were checked out 500,000 times during 2011 and 2012, making him one of the most popular library authors. Yet this isn't enough for Deary. "If I sold the book I'd get 30p per book. I get six grand, and I should be getting £180,000."
He proceeds to accuse libraries of hurting the book industry, saying that bookstores have to suffer their very existence. He calls the drive to save libraries nothing more than "sentimentality," and marvels at the idea of giving books away for free, when other entertainment industries do no such thing, ignoring the fact that many libraries carry film and television DVDs, music CDs, and even vinyl records.
Since airing his views, Deary has received a slew of hate mail, and many fellow authors have attacked him on social media outlets. Neil Gaiman tweeted, "Selfish & stupid, shortsighted & sad. Mostly selfish." Ron Charles, fiction editor at the Washington Post and fellow tweet-enthusiast, wrote,"Can barely sleep I'm so worried abt Terry Deary scraping by. Is there somewhere I can send a can o' soup or mittens?"
If I haven't made it clear yet, I think this guy is a greedy jack-ass. He clearly doesn't understand how libraries actually work, nor the benefit to authors they offer, and at the end of the day all he cares about is his own wallet. And I mean, come on, libraries are hurting the book industry? They've been around for hundreds of years now. I think if libraries were a significant threat to book sales, they would have been closed a long time ago.
But maybe I'm wrong. Is there any validity to his views? I'd love to hear a solid, logical argument for library closure that didn't just involve, you know, me me me whaa whaa whaa gimme gimme gimme!
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