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A Bookish Notion

My good friend Jim Kitchen, late of Games Workshop US, came up with a great idea today: Gamers should donate games and novels to their local libraries.

Many of us got started on our lifelong love of genre fiction (whether in movies, novels, games, or something else) in our local library. I know I went to mine every week to read everything I could find on the shelves. Many libraries, though, have what might charitably be called “a good start, if that” when it comes to fiction or game books from the adventure gaming industry.

One way to solve this problem would be for gamers to donate such books to their local libraries. This allows you to not only support your favorite games or books and your local library but also to hopefully get more people interested in such products.

The trick, of course, is that most libraries aren’t interested in your battered, well-loved DMG. They want new products in pristine shape. Their members will give the books enough abuse without them already having a head start.

So, Jim suggests, why don’t the companies allow gamers to buy games and novels from their favorite publishers at some sort of discount to encourage such donations? (He suggests the standard retailer discount of roughly 50%.) To make sure that unscrupulous souls don’t just use this as an excuse to order their own games at steep discounts, the company would ship the products directly to the library.

If I was running a company, I’d be all over this idea. Not only do you get your best fans to buy your books again, but they also then give them to a good cause, to a place where loads of people can see and enjoy them and maybe get hooked on your products. As long as you trust that there aren’t a passel of ethically challenged gamer-librarians out there trying to bleed you dry, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to this.

Of course, I’m often not as right as I’d like to be. I’d love to hear some feedback on this. Hit that “comment” button hard.

Comments 4

  1. I am a professional librarian and I would be the first person to advise against donating game books to a library.

    If you look at most libraries, donated books find their way to the annual book sale. Why is this? One big reason: cataloging.

    It takes time and/or money to catalog that book as dewey or library of congress. Most catalogers (a dying breed) are already overworked keeping up with normal acquisitions to have to deal with something joe blow brought in from the street.

    The idea about sending books directly to a library? BAD idea. When that happens, we look at it the same as most RPG publishers do: an unsolicited proposal. You want us to put your book out for everyone to see and bypass our acquisitions guidelines. Those books are usually destroyed or tossed on the book sale.

    If people really want to help get RPG books into libraries there needs to be two initial steps taken: better distribution and more publicity.

    Libraries really have only a few outlets to buy books from. Baker & Taylor is the biggest. The number of RPG publishers who even bother to make their products available to B&T is pathetic and, those who do, seem to charge a fee. A library buying the same book you’d get at your local game story costs more… and libraries do not like paying cover price much less more than cover.

    The big thing in libraries now is the graphic novel. Why? A bunch of comics publishers (DC being the biggest)went to the annual ALA (American Library Association) and really pushed the benefits of comics: encourages reluctant readers, etc. RPG publishers need to do the same thing. They can go to GenCon and Origins but going to ALA could be a good move for them. Stand at ALA and tell the librarians WHY having game books in their libraries would be good and why people would want to read them.

  2. If you (or any of your collegues) are really serious about tossing about ideas to get RPGs into libaries, I’d be very willing to participate in the discussion.

    You can contact me at my work email:

    jstubbs(AT)plcmc(DOT)lib(DOT)nc(DOT)us

    (sorry – I don’t want spam in my work account for posting to a public website)

  3. I am a professional librarian and I would be the first person to advise against donating game books to a library.

    If you look at most libraries, donated books find their way to the annual book sale. Why is this? One big reason: cataloging.

    It takes time and/or money to catalog that book as dewey or library of congress. Most catalogers (a dying breed) are already overworked keeping up with normal acquisitions to have to deal with something joe blow brought in from the street.

    The idea about sending books directly to a library? BAD idea. When that happens, we look at it the same as most RPG publishers do: an unsolicited proposal. You want us to put your book out for everyone to see and bypass our acquisitions guidelines. Those books are usually destroyed or tossed on the book sale.

    If people really want to help get RPG books into libraries there needs to be two initial steps taken: better distribution and more publicity.

    Libraries really have only a few outlets to buy books from. Baker & Taylor is the biggest. The number of RPG publishers who even bother to make their products available to B&T is pathetic and, those who do, seem to charge a fee. A library buying the same book you’d get at your local game story costs more… and libraries do not like paying cover price much less more than cover.

    The big thing in libraries now is the graphic novel. Why? A bunch of comics publishers (DC being the biggest)went to the annual ALA (American Library Association) and really pushed the benefits of comics: encourages reluctant readers, etc. RPG publishers need to do the same thing. They can go to GenCon and Origins but going to ALA could be a good move for them. Stand at ALA and tell the librarians WHY having game books in their libraries would be good and why people would want to read them.

  4. If you (or any of your collegues) are really serious about tossing about ideas to get RPGs into libaries, I’d be very willing to participate in the discussion.

    You can contact me at my work email:

    jstubbs(AT)plcmc(DOT)lib(DOT)nc(DOT)us

    (sorry – I don’t want spam in my work account for posting to a public website)

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