OK all of the drama on twitter is ruining my day. So I have to jump in as the voice of reason because I want all of you to shut up so that I can get my sports news and find some, one-liner witticisms and jokes to enjoy. So here we go:
1. You are not a book blogger or a librarian how are we ruining your twitter?
I work in a library as a computer technician. My wife is a librarian and a blogger. My world overlaps with you people. Frankly, I enjoy many of your thoughts throughout the year but whenever there is this drama after library conferences I want to unfollow all of you. But as some of you are friends and others of you are interesting I don’t want to have to make that choice.
2. Why should I give a flying ducky about what you have to say?
Good question. There really is no good reason to care about what I say other than I have experienced a few ALA conferences and I don’t really have a dog in the fight, so I can offer an outsider’s perspective.
3. So who is right, bloggers or librarians?
The short answer? Neither of you. First to bloggers, I am not going to rehash the tongue-lashing that you have already gotten from librarians, but I am going to observe that in my conference experiences I have witnessed a large number of bloggers doing terrible things. I know the good bloggers out there are decrying the injustice of being grouped together with the bad ones, however, in my experience there are more bad bloggers than good ones.
But quite frankly I don’t really care about you, if you are a blogger I do not expect you to act as a professional because you aren’t one (at least not in this context of librarian vs blogger). Expecting you to act as a professional at an event that you only have to pay $25 to attend and at which there are no real professional consequences for bad behavior is like inviting a group of people into a bank vault unsupervised and saying don’t take the money. Some will obey the social conventions, most will take some of the free money, and many will pack their clothes so full of money that they will look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. You may matter to publishers and to ALA, but you simply do not matter to me.
However, I would say that using any ARC that you receive at a library conference as a giveaway on your blog is unethical unless you have the written consent of the publisher. If a publisher sends you a book because they like your blog do whatever you want with it, but if you get an ARC at a library conference I would encourage you to read it and then donate it to your local library, or if your library does not want it, any other worthy charity that needs books.
Now to the Librarians, God knows I love you all, and as my marriage can attest I think that everyone should have an intimate relationship with a librarian somewhere in their lives. This does not mean that I believe you are entitled to the ARCs any more than the bloggers are. Sure, having them is a wonderful advantage and is an excellent tool for readers advisory and materials ordering, but the only reason that you have them is because you are relatively low cost mass marketing, plus you make up a significant segment of the profits that publisher’s make when you buy materials for your library. A business exists to make money, lest we forget, and so publishers are not at these conferences because they think librarians are wonderful people who help people of all ages become exposed to information. They are there to make money. The ARCs are a part of that strategy, but if ARCs continue to be a problem you may find that publishers will stop providing them. Also, I know that you feel that as librarians you deserve the books, it is your conference after all, but I am sure the publishers want to get as much mileage out of each ARC as possible. It is in the publisher’s best interest to put a hot book into the hands of a blogger with 5000 readers a day vs a librarian who might order 10 copies for their library and then give that ARC to 2-3 teens to read.
As I see it the problem with bloggers versus librarians is not an issue with the bloggers or the publishers. The issue is between the librarians and your own professional organization. Just as the publishers see you and your organization as walking dollar signs, so your organization sees the bloggers. Every blogger who pays to get into the conference is probably $20 worth of profit to ALA. That money most likely goes into helping offset the costs associated with the conference as well as getting better or at least more well-known presenters for future conferences. Also higher attendance numbers will in turn entice more ARC offerings from publishers. In a way, the bloggers may end up being a necessary evil. They may be taking your ARCs but they are also providing you better conference opportunities as well. If you don’t want bloggers at your conference, or you want them to pay higher costs or only be limited to one day, fine. Take it up with your professional organization, not your blog or the twitterverse. However, be prepared that your membership fees or conference fees may go up or the quality of available offerings may go down because of that decision. (P.S. I don’t want to hear about the risings costs or decreased opportunities on twitter either, you are making this bed so you sleep in it)
Oh and librarians with a blog I think this statement applies to you as well: I would say that using any ARC that you receive at a library conference as a giveaway on your blog is unethical unless you have the written consent of the publisher. If a publisher sends you a book because they like your blog do whatever you want with it, but if you get an ARC at a library conference I would encourage you to read it and then donate it to your library, give it to a patron who would enjoy it, or donate it to some other worthy charity that needs books.
So what do you think? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I being unfair to bloggers? Librarians? Publishers? Let me know in the comments and on twitter.