Not too long ago, INTERN was delighted to receive a good review in a magazine read by many librarians. "Ah!" burbled a voluble INTERN to Techie Boyfriend. "Perhaps this means 99 Funky Getaways For Active Seniors In the Midwest will one day appear in our Locale Librarye. How charming!" A cloud passed over Techie Boyfriend's normally sunny visage. "Let's hope not," he muttered gravely, "or people won't have to buy it anymore."
"Techie Boyfriend," quoth INTERN, "you are but a simple, technically-minded man. What laughable frippery-froppery to suggest that putting a book in Libraries could ever harm its sales."
But the seed of doubt had been planted in INTERN's trusting mind, and she has been fretting over this point all weekend. INTERN is a lover of Libraries, and has been all her life—but now that it's down to a cold, hard handful of change in royalties for every copy sold, should INTERN fear and suspect the institution (the socialist institution! the red scare!) that threatens to put her book into thousands of grimy and not-so-grimy hands for free? Are loveable Libraries sabotaging the publishing industry and starving authors out of even their humblest wormskin jackets? Is a Modest Proposal in order that Libraries be burned to cinders and Librarians fed to said starving authors for dinner?
INTERN is thinking of all the times she declined to purchase a book because it was available at the library—but also thinking of all the times she bought a book only after seeing it at the library, or after checking it out ten times and loving it so much she couldn't live without a copy. She is thinking of all the authors whose websites she visited after seeing their book at the library or whose poetry readings she attended in one of those weirdly sterile library conference rooms.
And she can't figure it out. Other angles come to mind: perhaps libraries help book sales for some kinds of books (how-to, field guides, cookbooks, things you really need to own a copy of in order to be useful) and hurt others (certain kinds of novels? expensive books?). Perhaps libraries either help or hurt books sales depending on the economic climate of the region, the number of bookstores in the area, or similar factors. Perhaps libraries help or hurt book sales depending on how well the book itself is being promoted in bookstores and in the media. And so on.
INTERN wants to know, fragrant readers: How do you think libraries affect your book-buying habits? Have you ever bought a book after seeing it at the library or checking it out? Have you ever not bought a book specifically because you could get it at the library? Does anyone (librarians, authors, publishing folk, and civilians alike) have a more authoritative angle on this, cause INTERN wants some answers!