Modern-day readers have many options to purchase or acquire books. From brick-and-mortar bookstores to online shopping, yard sales and more, there is no shortage of ways to get books. Another popular means of acquiring books to read is to go to a public library. If you’re an author, your initial thought might be, “Why should I want my books to be available for free in a library?”
The answer is simple, really: It’s a great way to gain new readers. A patron strolling through the fiction aisles of a local library might pick up (and, hopefully, check out) one of your titles, and boom! You’ve got a new, loyal fan who starts following you online and pre-ordering all the new stories you write! The question is: Are your books available in libraries? You might be interested to learn what type of criteria libraries use to determine how to stock their shelves.
Reader requests are a big part of library criteria
Libraries want their inventories to attract readers. After all, what’s the point in having shelves full of books if no one is coming to check them out? Many libraries today also offer audiobook versions of fiction novels when they’re available. In short, libraries want to know what their readers like and try their best to accommodate their interests. This means that if people come in and ask for books you have written, chances are good that, if the library in question doesn’t carry any, they will order some soon.
Books that score high for relevance in today’s time make the cut
Bear in mind that there’s a difference between a timeless classic and an outdated, obsolete story that carries no relevance to modern-day readers. Part of the criteria libraries use to choose selections is to determine whether a specific novel is relevant to today’s readers. Again, a classic is a classic is a classic. Some stories retain their literary value over time. Others do not.
Are critics giving your book a lot of attention?
Whether negative or positive, feedback always increases the popularity of a book. Libraries regularly check on reviews and attention a particular novel might be getting from literary critics. If they’re talking your book up in the media or on book club sites, etc., a library is going to want it on their shelves.
Local demographics come into play for book selection at a library
Here’s the way this works: Let’s say there’s a small library in an assisted living facility where the minimum age requirement for residence is 65. You’re not likely going to find a lot of children’s books in this library. On the other hand, you will find a plethora of selections that appeal to an older audience.
Libraries study their local demographics and try to stock an inventory that suits the interests of their readers. For instance, a community that has a large teenage population is probably going to have several rows of books geared to a juvenile audience.
Talk to your local librarians
If you’re a writer who wants to learn more about how libraries choose their books, consider visiting several libraries in your area. They’ll be happy to share their criteria with you. This article is quite informative, as well. Remember, it doesn’t really matter where a reader gets your book, as long as people are reading them and asking for more!