I Thought Libraries Were Free

Amazon is planning to start a digital book library along the lines of Spotify; i.e., you pay a monthly rate and get to borrow as many books as you want.

That’s cool and all, although I can’t really see how this is good for anyone other than Amazon. I imagine (or at least would hope) that if we weren’t living in a period when governments at every level are attempting to strip away as many duties as possible without completely causing the communities they serve to grind to a halt, public, tax-funded libraries would be doing this for free. I’d much rather be borrowing my ebooks from a public library than from Amazon.

And on the other side of the equation, I imagine that publishers would much rather be selling/renting these books to public libraries than Amazon. I don’t think Amazon is going to pay those sweet $325.99 “institutional prices” that publishers are used to gaming public libraries for. (And yes, I know that’s technically an inefficiency that’s wasting taxpayer dollar the all-knowing market will iron out, but I still think that publishers and public libraries would have a better time reaching some equitable midpoint than will publishers and the Amazon library and that in the long run we’d all be better off.)

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian

Actually, public libraries are increasingly able to offer free ebooks, so be sure to check your local library.

And that’s actually a misperception about the cost to libraries of books/ebooks. Many ebooks cost libraries in the range of $5-$25. A real bargain for taxpayers, a public good for all. Happy reading!


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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