David Vinjamuri

David Vinjamuri: 'without that, the cycle of reading will not continue'

'Libraries are the reason that people read.'

I grew up being an avid reader my parents were divorced when I very young and my dad lived in Connecticut and my mom lived in Nebraska, so when I would go to Nebraska for the summer, I'd go to in library, the Omaha Public Library, and borrow the maximum number of books, read them, one a day and return them and do the same thing about six times during my trip.

So, I ran a lot and spent a lot of time in the library. My junior and senior of high school my bus route changed and I got dropped off at school about an hour before classes began. And I went to library every morning and read The New York Times And that was probably the best preparation for political science major college I think I got.

Today we use our libraries primarily, actually, for our children, so I have two small children including a three-and-half year-old a free after all loves reading and even my one-and-half-year-old daughter loves story time and so we go to libraries for that.

You know I think that libraries are the reason that people read. I was just talking to group here in Chicago and I pointed out that at the time we started reading books, in around 1450 when movable type became prevalent. Within fifty years there were 50 million books in Europe. But the other thing that people were doing at that time they don't still do as much, you know, there were fox hunts, there was... shin kicking was a popular sport. There were.. public. executions were actually probably th number one spectator sport.

So the fact that people read now is actual a little surprising and especially considering digital media, considering video games, TV, movies, all the other things that people could be doing. We ought to be surprised that people still read in as many numbers as they do, and I think it's because of libraries.

I think libraries are actually the keystone species in the ecology of reading. I think that the publisher strategy, large publishers' strategy, I should say, to to libraries is understandable, but it's short-sighted and it's misguided. I think that libraries are one of the best sources of recommendations and discovery for books, that they're greatly under-used by publishers to develop backlists for authors, to introduce new authors to book groups and communities and to generally develop books.

Libraries are the one outlet in the entire country that isn't afraid of being a showroom. Libraries are happy for you to come and look at the books and buy them from a bookstore, if that's what you want to do and there's not too many places... you know I'm I'm consumer marketer by training, we don't have any place that we sell to that's happy to have you come in and not buy there, but libraries will actually support that.

Well, I think that the biggest issue with e-books is that we know that reading habits are changing quite dramatically. So according to the Codex Group, between 2010 and 2012 you went from about one-fifth to two-thirds of frequent readers, so the forty-two or so million people who account for the majority of book purchases in the US, now have e-readers and they're reading e-books.

We know that e-book readers actually read more often, they buy more often, and they become more prolific. So e-readers in general, though tablets aren't as good as single-purpose reading devices, in terms of the way people read. Having an e-reader actually makes you more of a reader, and that's good.

The problem is that libraries are getting pushed out of the cycle, so if you look at access to books, at least four of the six major Big Six publishers are not providing all their books nationally to libraries. The ones that are, some of the books costs as much as eighty four dollars or more for copy that would cost a consumer twelve to fourteen ninety-nine. I think it's a problem because libraries have the unique ability to not just develop an interest in an author, but also a love reading, and without that the cycle of reading will not continue. So, it's a problem.

[What do you think the solution should be?]

I think the solution, frankly, is for libraries to work together, to use collective action to prove to publishers the power that they have. So, I really think that that libraries should I take local programs, which existed for many, many years, that discover books and band together to nationalize them, and you know, pick authors that they've discovered locally and make them best-sellers.

It's well within their power to do that, and once they do that publishers have budgets to promote and develop authors that largely have been devoted to chains like Barnes & Noble, which now is selling fewer books. They've changed the volume merchandise, they're selling alot of other things, and they walked away from the Nook, so there there's an opportunity to capture some that, to get publishers to sell e-books to libraries at competitive terms for consumers, to make physical copies available, to make advance copies available to reading groups.

It amazes me that every publisher doesn't have a program to target certain authors and to make on free advance copies of their next book available to reading groups throughout the country, because that would be great way to develop a new author. I, in addition to training, marketing and teaching, am writer, as well, so have a book out, a thriller called "Operator," which hit the top 100 on Amazon last month.

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