1. Will the local library carry books written by local authors? We will and do. However, in order to be purchased for inclusion in our general collection, local authors need to meet our general selection guidelines which include being reviewed by an authoritative source such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, VOYA, or Horn Book OR being requested by patrons and having received positive reader reviews on either Amazon or Goodreads. If a title meets neither requirement, the author may donate a copy to be catalogued and shelved on our Local Author Shelf. These items will still be available for checkout in-person, or via MORE, but must be donated.
2. Will the library carry self-published books? Usually not, but occasionally we will make an exception. Again, they have to fit general standards of the community, be appropriate for our collection in both content and format (for example, we no longer accept pamphlets, wirebound, stapled, etc.). Also, these books may be donated by the author for inclusion on our local author shelf. Generally speaking, it is unlikely we would spend collection funds on any self-published titles unless they were picked up for review by an authoritative source.
3. Why would you choose to, or choose not to, carry books by local authors and self-published authors? We choose to include local authors in this way, because we think it is important to encourage new writers, introduce readers to writers they may not otherwise have access to, and because we sometimes then receive titles of particular local interest due to setting or history. The limitation, particularly on self-published titles, have been put into place because self-publishing has become so rampant that we are inundated with requests that we purchase titles. Unfortunately, these titles are not available through our discounted book vendors, so they are often more expensive than popular, reviewed, or best selling titles. The writers are sometimes aggressive with the selectors in attempts to get their books sold, and we have seen many, many titles without even basic editing completed. When asked for information on genre, we have been told things like, “It’s both fiction and non-fiction together!” When asked if the title is reviewed, we’ve heard “My grandchild, wife, sister, or friend LOVED it!”
At the RLPL space is a huge consideration, as is budget. The ease of self-publishing has guaranteed that literally anyone can publish a book. While we know there are gems out there and want to support that, we don’t have the staff time to devote to reviewing or editing books for authors. In the past, when we have purchased self-published titles, those have usually languished on the shelf for a few years until they come up for deletion for low or zero usage-so the cost of purchasing them is really not feasible. Obviously, there are rare exceptions though, which is why we continue to offer a venue for the books as well as for author visits and signings.