Oh Deary Me

I feel vindicated at the moment. Around a year ago I posted about how objectionable Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories series, appeared in an interview. Well, just last week the dreadful man came out in opposition to libraries, saying that they robbed authors. You can read his comments here and probably should because this is my response to them.

Mr. Deary says that "writers aren't ... middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They've got to make a living." Well, I am a middle-class woman indulging in a pleasant little hobby, and I don't expect for a moment that my writing is ever going to make me a living. Very few authors make enough money from their books to live on, and neither do they expect to. I know of two local authors who have done well. One had a bidding war between two of the big six publishers, and ended up with a three-book deal from Harper Collins and a large advance. She has a day-job because writing doesn't bring in enough money to pay the mortgage. The other writes children's books which you have probably heard of (if you're British) and lives a small rented flat next door to my parents-in-law.

Terry Deary apparently gets 30p per Horrible Histories book sold, and only 6.2p each time one of his books is borrowed from a library, up to a maximum of £6,600. So he complains about being done out of about £180,000 because children are borrowing his books, not buying them. But I think he's wrong. Children don't have a lot of money. If they couldn't borrow his books for free, they probably wouldn't buy them. They might never discover them at all. Instead they get to borrow a book from the library and may then request the entire series for Christmas. I discovered The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency after borrowing the first one from the library, and I have now bought all the books, including the latest one in hardback. (If Terry Deary was really worried about being done out of thousands in royalties perhaps he should consider not saying things which make parents hate him so much they boycott his books.)

Deary also states that the libraries are driving the bookshops out of business. Odd, then, that free lending libraries have been around for 160 years and bookshops have only been struggling since the appearance of Amazon and the ereaders. And LoveFilm, Netflix and the TV are giving away films, yet DVD sales are still extremely healthy.

As Neil Gaiman tweeted, "Libraries create readers, they don't starve authors."

And don't get me started on that odious Hilary Mantel...


  1. Wow--he gets money when his books get checked out? I'd never heard of that. I love libraries. As an author, sure, I'd love it if everyone bought my books instead of checking them out, but how many people could afford to buy every book they want to read? No libraries=fewer readers. The more people who read your book, the greater the buzz about it, and the library is a great way to introduce new readers to your books--and hopefully get them hooked so they'll want to buy your next one. Love the Neil Gaiman quote.


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