Writer, Illustrator, Philosopher
I’ve been working hard recently to promote my books to libraries in the UK and Ireland. This has been quite a learning curve, involving wholesalers and retailers, bibliographic databases and quality MARCs, and other things I won’t bore you with. However, I’m pleased to announce that MUNKi, and other titles in the Merrywhile series, will soon be available for loan in some 50+ library branches across Wales, England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland (nothing against Northern Ireland – and hopefully they’ve nothing against me! – but books there are ordered centrally, and this year’s budget is already spent apparently, so maybe next year). The above picture is the result of an undercover operation I undertook to my local Gorseinon library. The work is ongoing, and I’m planning soon to reach out to libraries in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but this seems like a solid start.
Libraries support authors in all sorts of ways. Apart from being a wonderful free means for people to discover a writer’s work, library loans actually help generate author income through the UK’s PLR scheme, where each borrow earns the author 30p. So if you want to support my writing, please check out your local library – pretty much all public library catalogues are now online and freely searchable – and see if they stock any of my books. I was humbled to note that the philosophy books are widely stocked, and in places as far flung as Australia, the US and Canada – two copies of Words of Wisdom are this very moment sitting on shelves in New York Public Libraries, obviously in anticipation of Carrie Bradshaw popping in on the lookout for pithy profundities to spice up her blog, or Kendall Roy seeking philosophical soundbites for his comeback media tour. (Both fictional possibilities appal me, but I’ll take what I can get.)
If your local library is scandalously free of my philosophy or fiction books, then you can actually request them. Most libraries have a Facebook page where you can message them, which also lists email address and other points of contact, or there will be a form you can fill out on their website to suggest titles for purchase. As I say, the philosophy books seem fairly widely available, so any requests by readers for the fiction titles would be greatly appreciated. If you have trouble finding a contact or a link, in whatever country you live, let me know and I’ll help track it down.
That said, I appreciate that libraries are under great pressure from reduced budgets and opening hours, and it’s a wonder that they keep going at all. This is largely due to the generosity of spirit and hard work of the people who still labour in the system out of a love for reading and learning, and a passion for sharing that with others. So, a thank you to those librarians who took the time to correspond with me and to consider the titles, even if they didn’t end up purchasing copies.
By the way, you’re probably aware – but in case you aren’t – that most libraries also now lend ebooks and digital audiobooks. For instance, the East Riding of Yorkshire libraries have purchased all my self-published books in ebook form, and the patrons of East Lothian libraries may now borrow the audiobook of Pale Kings. So if you would prefer to read digitally or listen aurally [Is there any other way? Ed.], then you can also request that libraries purchase those formats. Libraries are there to serve the public after all, so book requests are taken seriously.
And finally, if you are reading this and you ARE a librarian, then please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to write something for your website or newsletter on any philosophical or science-fictional topic to promote any books you stock.
Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator from the UK. He is the author of the near-future sci-fi novel MUNKi, published by WoodPig Press, which concerns robots, the hunt for the Technological Singularity, and people swearing in Welsh.
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