Storify + Some Tips: Library & Bookstore Access Isn't Universal

Storify + Some Tips: Library & Bookstore Access Isn't Universal

Last week, as a response to an author's tweet (guys, this upset me so much that I can't remember who it was--I blocked it out, I suspect) insinuating that people who didn't shop their local independent bookstore were, basically, cheap and lazy, I had a bit of a mini-rant I had to get out on Twitter.

I've been chewing on whether to post it here, because I know that this is a sensitive issue. Honestly, it's a sticky one for me, since I work primarily with small, independent business and try to support them as much as I can. 

With that said, there are some loaded assumptions that come with the sorts of flip comments like the one I saw. It assumes the people live in an area with bookstores, with libraries and have transportation access to get to those places. Those are pretty big assumptions.

It also assumes that the bookstores near them carry the books they want and won't deride them for asking for those books (raise your hand if you've had a bookstore employee sneer at you for asking about genre fiction - *raises hand*).

So, I'd love to see us be a bit more thoughtful when we talk about other people's book shopping habits. Read through my Storify and then scroll down for some tips for accessing books when you're not one of us fortunate folks who have book acquisition venues in abundance. 

Some (Hopefully) Helpful Tips

  • While lots of library systems are sparse on collections, many participate in Inter-Library Loan programs. I use the one in my town all the time and while there's often a wait, they've never been unable to find a book for me. I have one right now from a college library in Arkansas.
  • If you work in one county and live in another, the county you work in often will let you have a library card. This can be great both in terms of convenience and in expanding the libraries you can access.
  • In a lot of states, especially those on the east coast (Maryland and Pennsylvania are two I know of), you can access other libraries in your state, even if you're not in their jurisdiction. People in rural Pennsylvania, for example, can access Philadelphia's wonderful public library--including digital collections.
  • If you or someone you know has mobility or transportation challenges, many libraries will mail you your books, either for free or a very nominal charge. I know this is heavily used in my community and a read godsend for folks who would otherwise be unable to access books.
  • If books you want to order aren't available on, say, Amazon, I've had oddly good luck in the Kobo Store. They seem to have a bigger breadth of foreign titles. Be sure to search Retail Me Not for promo codes, which Kobo has in abundance. They won't work for big five publishers, but they'll work for many others.  
  • I haven't used any of these services, but sites like Paperback Swap come highly recommended by others. 
  • Powell's has free shipping if you spend over $50. I know that's a lot of cash to shell out at once, but you can really load up on used books for $50. 
  • I have trouble with the IndieBound website (it confuses me), but I know loads of people who order from it. You can choose what store you want to order your books from, and there are some cool specialty bookstore on the list. 

Do you have any tips for accessing books when you're not so fortunate to live somewhere where they're in abundance or folks have other limitations? I'm sure I've just scratched the surface.

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