OK – it’s an absurd question. We love libraries — in Arizona, we have some of the most compelling bibliophilic architecture I’ve encountered in all of my travels. Libraries are blessings! And we love amazon. I remember when it was new in the realm of book-lovers — in the days of noisy dial-up modems and Usenet — it rocked my world.
I was writing my first novel, living on a dirt road at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains in Southeastern Arizona, a short drive from the boarder of Mexico. The nearest big bookstores were two hours away in Tucson and the closest cool bookshop was an hour away in Bisbee. Having stacks of craved books and obscure titles arriving at my door was pure bliss. Yeah. I worshipped amazon.
These days I’m grateful for amazon because it carries my own novels. And I lament amazon because it buries them in the maze of more aggressively marketed titles.
Yesterday I learned a local library refused to stock one of my novels because it “doesn’t have many reviews on amazon.”
A Phoenix Public Library patron filled out an online form asking the library to purchase The LOOK. The response they gave baffled him: in a pithy email, a person explained they had rejected his request because “it hasn’t been professionally reviewed yet” and because it didn’t meet an unspecified number equating to “many reviews on amazon.”
This news came to me in the wake of another confounding experience — amazon’s algorithm deleted a cluster of positive reviews from the book’s listing over the weekend. The reviews were legitimate and they were glowing. Now they’re gone — five remain. Sadly, the library in my city would have thought they were important.
It would make sense had the library replied it has a limited budget and can’t stock new items right now. It would have made (semi)sense if they’d come back to him saying they don’t stock paperbacks, or applied some other technical justification. But to say they depend on the number of amazon reviews to make their decision…? It feels wrong.
I have no desire to be the romanticized underdog in a competitive landscape.
I’ve written the books I wanted most to read — books I myself would buy when I discovered them on amazon. Fans have written to me privately expressing gratitude and deep insights received after reading and re-reading the books. They haven’t rated them publicly, but they’ve confirmed to me my love of Amie is not one in a million, but one among many.
Helping a novel and its characters reach a wider audience is important. From the moment it’s published, the novel belongs on shelves the author has never seen. It belongs in readers’ hearts and minds the author may never get to know personally. I have no doubt The LOOK and its sequels belong to the universe of readers who want to experience what Amie and Sunny and D and The Actor and Eurydice and Attar and Connor and Kate and Sammy and Faas and Orpheus go through as their lives fall apart and come together.
The person who rejected the library patron’s request has not read the book and has no clue why the patron thought it was worthy of being listed in their catalog. Someday, that will change. Amie’s world and the reading world will interweave and expand unlimited.
Arabian Library in Scottsdale, AZ – image by richärd+bauer architects
Since I mentioned them above: here’s a small sample of the gorgeous libraries we enjoy in the Sonoran Desert. If you’re in town, be sure to check them out.
Desert Broom Library in Phoenix, AZ – photo by richärd+bauer
Desert Broom Library
Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix – image via Will Bruder Architects
Burton Barr Library in Downtown Phoenix
Thank you for reading today!
Readers make the imagined world possible.
BOOKS BY LAURIE PEREZ