But one thing I do know, is that readers are not oblivious. Conscientious readers worry that they are contributing to the decline by buying books at used book stores and borrowing them from libraries.
I received a lovely letter from a future reader of my May release, my first mystery novel ever, A Deadly Grind, Book 1 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries cozy series.
Maureen said: "I am on the waiting list at my local library for the book and am eagerly awaiting reading it. I apologize for not purchasing it. I live with multiple illnesses which have put me on disability, and money is extremely tight. I am sure at some point I will either buy it, or perhaps ask for it as a Christmas gift! I read voraciously and love to lose myself in a good book. Especially at night, or when the pain or fear are bad, it is nice to live vicariously through the characters and escape for awhile."
I was deeply touched. Whenever I have been frightened or lonely, a good mystery has done the same thing for me, and I have spent many hours at a hospital bedside with a riveting mystery.
I wrote back to her that she must never apologize to a writer for borrowing their book from the library, or buying it at a used book store. Sure, we, as novelists, need the sales, but it is so much more important that people read the books, enjoy them, and look forward to more. There have been many times in my life when the library has been my solace and saving grace. I've used it voraciously my whole life, and consider libraries one of the most vital signs of a civilized nation. Any country that encourages its citizens to read (openly, and without censor) is, if not already a democracy, well on its way.
So if you borrow books from the library, but want to do the author a solid, review the book for a review site, click 'like' on amazon.com and the other sales sites, talk about the book and recommend it.
Oh... and hug a librarian. It'll surprise the heck out of her/him!