To finish up my responses to the Letter (see Send A Letter, Maria and Oh, Volunteers), I’ve seen a few comments about the situation that says, “oh, don’t rely on review copies from libraries, just go to the library or buy a copy.”
You know what I realized as I prepared my response? That thinking — any book an be borrowed from the library or bought — is what the one percent thinks.
You’re part of the one percent if you live close to a public library. If that public library is well funded enough to have staff to select books. If that public library is well funded enough to be able to buy books. It’s 2011, and in public libraries, budgets are being slashed, staff is being reduced, hours are being cut, branches are closing, and in some instances, library systems are being shut down all together.
“Just go to the library” is getting harder; the library may not be able to afford to buy the new books or any books; and, it may cost you, if you now live in a town with no public library of its own.
As for bookstores. There’s the question of whether your town or area still has a bookstore. If there is one, not everyone can afford to buy all the books they want.
Online bookstores? There’s the money issue, combined with the payment issue. A person needs a credit card, debit card, etc.
Now, to tie it back to The Letter, that’s really not a concern of publishers, access to books. It’s not a reason for them to send review copies of books.
Unless, that is, publishers want reviews from sources other than readers who live in communities with healthy libraries, readers who live near bookstores, readers who can afford to buy all the books they want.
If publishers do want reviews or “buzz” from the ninety nine percent, then, well, sending review copies is an awesome way to get reviews from a mix of people, from all geographic areas and all socioeconomic areas. As I said in earlier posts, there is no guarantee of a review; but it’s much more likely that the book blogger who is an amazing blogger who happens to not be privileged will then blog about the book, adding to that elusive, uncontrollable, coveted “buzz.”