Libraries often find themselves stretching their book buying budget in order to satiate the demand for bestselling titles. All of the books they buy are mostly new, either directly from the publisher or authorized 3rd party resellers. The Toronto Public Library is bucking this trend and wants to buy your used books.
Metro News is reporting that the Toronto Public Library launched the used book buying program in December, in a bid to reduce the wait times for popular fiction books such as the weeks-long delay it experienced for Us Conductors by Sean Michaels after it won the Giller Prize.
The Toronto Public Library isn’t just interested in any book, but have strict requirements. Your book must be on their list of popular adult fiction titles that are currently in high demand and must be in very good shape. If you meet all of the libraries requirements they will buy it from you straight up for $5.00.
At the beginning of every month the list of books the library wants to buy will be updated. This often depends on mainstream bestsellers that have just released or what books are continuing to see accelerated demand by the patrons.
This initiative will save the library money and allow them to stretch their budget further, but publishers and authors are up in arms about this becoming a trend in the industry. Noah Richler, the acclaimed author who most recently wrote What We Talk About When We Talk About War, recently penned an opinion piece panning the Toronto library’s decision. “Instead of ordering copies of books that furnish a royalty, and supporting the trade, as all honourable purchases do, the TPL is buying off the back of a public truck it has ushered into the courtyard, depriving writers and the companies that invest in them of their just reward. It can do so because it has decided that the lowest possible price to be paid is the right one.”
It is important to note that Toronto Public plans to buy one copy for every six holds placed on a title. Since the program launched last month the library only bought 20 books, which is a drop in the bucket compared their normal spending habits. Still, its too early to tell how this pilot will affect the perception of the library by publishers and authors. It is slatted to run for one calender year and be evaluated at the end, to see if its viable to continue.
Baseline, the libraries program to buy your books is basically trying to curb rampant spending. It is one of the least funded major library in Canada and they are constantly under the gun to reduce costs. One of the big expenses right now is digital lending. In 2014, Toronto Public was one of two libraries in North America that loaned out over two million e-Books.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.