Author values profits over literacy

It is rather stunning. Terry Deary is a children’s author whose books were the seventh most borrowed from British libraries last year. Yet his view of libraries is that “no one has an entitlement to read a book for free, at the expense of the author, the publisher and the … tax payer.” According to him, “This is not the Victorian age when libraries were created to allow the impoverished to have access to literature.”

He’s serious about his reference to the Victorian era. He believes libraries “have been around too long” and are “no longer relevant.” Rather than spending money on libraries, he thinks taxpayers should buy each child an e-book reader. Then kids can read the abundance of available free e-books.

Evidently Deary hasn’t looked at what’s available for free. The greatest number of those books have expired copyrights. In Britain, the copyright period is the author’s life plus 70 years. So, under his approach it would be at least 70 years before kids could chance read his books — unless they or their parents are forced to buy them.

Deary ignores the fact that even in the 21st Century there are people who still need libraries to access literature and other necessary resources. Their money goes for things like clothing, shelter and food without a lot of disposable income for computers, tablets or e-books for children. But some things are more important to Deary. “Authors, book-sellers and publishers need to eat and they don’t expect to go to a food library and eat for free,” Deary he says.

Hopefully readers in Britain, the U.S. and other countries where Deary’s books are sold will take him at his word and wait until his copyrights have expired before reading or buying them.

In the library everyone was rich.

Naomi Shibab Nye, Never in a Hurry

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