Speaking up for libraries

Recently, I was in Torquay with my writer friends (authors & editors Jasmine Richards, Karen Ball and not pictured Sara Grant), and we were taken on an Agatha Christie tour by a Blue Badge guide named Frank (far right) who was an octogenarian marathon runner and all around brilliant guide.

He walked us past a building, keeping very secretive about it, and pointed out this sign.

Above an impressive stained glass window, it says, “Read wisely, for a good book is a faithful friend. Eden Philpotts”. Frank was telling us about it because Eden was a friend of Agatha’s but all I could think about was the revelation that this building used to be the library:

While I am a firm believer that libraries should be accessible and not imposing, I can’t help but long for a time when libraries were so important that buildings like this housed them.

Tomorrow is the Speak Up for Libraries rally at Parliament and two team HKB members will be there at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, Storey’s Gate SW1H 9NH (more info here) starting at 11.30am at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH.

I’m also exercising my right as a British subject to meet with my MP (or his assistant) and speak with him about this issue. I will be meeting with David Lidlington’s assistant tomorrow during the lobby and asking him to help us speak up for libraries. I am suprised to get an appointment, nervous and excited all at once! Never done anything like this before. Comment below if there is anything you want me to say to him.

Publishers must support libraries. There is no point in supporting literacy if people won’t have access to reading material. And so must the government. Ed Vaizey has a legal duty to superintend the library service and the Speak Up for Libraries campaign wants him to “set out a clear vision, standard and framework to support local authorities to delivery high quality and sustainable library services.”

In addition to adding our voices to the crowd, Hot Key Books will be supporting libraries by pledging friction-less sales to libraries of our books. Libraries are a place of discovery, and a place where voracious readers are made. To survive as a company, we need voracious readers.

Ultimately, if giving libraries access to our ebooks free of exaggerated prices and imposed time limits means some lost sales, we are happy to consider it an investment in support of an essential service. We need people reading our books so that they can talk about our books, learn about our authors and our brand. Eventually, we are confident, these readers will become customers.

I hope to meet some of you in person at the rally. Let me know if you’re going to be there.

Hot Key Books says Don’t Lock Up Our Libraries!