So I was at my local library the other day, and I noticed that while they do have a romance section, they don’t have either of my books in stock. Many other Chicago Public Library branches do carry both of them, however. Thinking I would be a nice person, do my part to support my local library, etc., etc., I returned the next day to donate a copy of each of my books. The young female receptionist took the books, noted that they were both already in the Chicago Public Library system, and said they would be happy to take them. She mentioned that I should call back later in the afternoon to make sure the books were processed by her manager.
Later that afternoon, I thus called and spoke to the manager, Dick. (Note: as the story goes on, you may begin to suspect that I made up this name, but I swear, it’s really Dick.) My conversation with Dick went something like this:
Me: Hi, Dick. My name is Julie James– I’m a local author and I dropped off my two books earlier this afternoon to add to your branch’s collection. I just wanted to make sure you received those books okay?
Me: So… I’m guessing from that reaction that you have no clue what I’m talking about? I dropped off the books with a nice red-headed woman, I didn’t catch her name.
Dick: I haven’t seen ’em, but there’s one place they might be. Do you want me to check?
Gee. As reassuring as it is to know they “might” be somewhere…
Me: If you wouldn’t mind checking, that would be great.
[Dick sighs, then there is a long pause.]
[Dick picks up phone, call resumes.]
Dick: Okay, so I got your books here. Yeah… I’m going to have to look into these. I need to see if they’re appropriate for our collection.
[Note: the other party to this phone call would describe Dick’s tone at this point as “snotty,” but given how said other party will endeavor to tell this story in an objective fashion, said other party will let the dialogue speak for itself.]
Me: I saw that several other branches of the Chicago Public Library carry them– I just thought I’d donate the copies since you’re my local branch.
Dick: I still gotta check to see if they’re appropriate.
Me: Well, they’re contemporary romances. You have a romance section, right?
Dick: Yeah, but I gotta make sure they’re an appropriate fit for our readers. You know, we can’t just take any books here that people want to drop off. Every library manager should be doing this, and if they’re not, well, they should be.
Me: Oh–what kind of information are you looking for? Maybe I can help you.
Dick: Well, I’m going to check the internet, see if I can find any reviews on your books. If you’ve had any.
Me: Actually, I think you’ll find that both of the books have been well-received. In fact, the Sun-Times did great reviews for both of them [I throw this in thinking a local connection might help] and just a couple weeks ago Booklist gave Practice Makes Perfect a starred review–
Dick: [cutting me off] Good for you.
[Note: the other party to this phone call would most definitely describe Dick’s tone at this point as “sarcastic.” And at this point, it’s pretty safe to say that said other party’s tone is pretty damn sarcastic too.]
Me: You know, I’m confused here. For some reason, I was under the impression that I was trying to do something nice by donating books to the library.
Dick: Sure, and we’re happy to have them. Once I determine that they’re appropriate.
Me: I’ll tell you what, Dick– you check your sources and decide whether you think my books are “appropriate” for your library. And if you decide they’re not, you call me and I’ll come over and take them back. How does that sound?
Okay– so what’s really going on here?
If I was a betting woman, I’d wager that Dick saw a book called Just the Sexiest Man Alive and got all crotchety about what might be in it. I’m also guessing that Dick isn’t necessarily a fan of romance. But maybe I’m wrong– maybe he’s really that thorough about checking into every book that comes into his library. But come on, am I really supposed to believe he checks the reviews for every new acquisition? Something isn’t right…
P.S. I haven’t heard from Dick since. My plan is to call this afternoon to confirm whether he did, indeed, find the books acceptable. I will admit: there’s a small part of me that’s kind of hoping he’ll tell me that he doesn’t think my books are appropriate for his library. Now that I write full-time instead of practicing law, my work interactions are generally all very pleasant and I’m just itching for a good fight.
On another note, to focus next on people who are so much more fun (and welcoming) about books… the other week my book club had its monthly meeting and–ha– we read Practice Makes Perfect. Surprisingly, no one said they disliked the book. 😉 It was a ton of fun for me to hear the reactions and thoughts of people who know me so well. We had a lively discussion about the gender issues touched on in the book (many of which were articulated so well by Jessica in her review of PMP at Racy Romance Reviews); our personal experiences working in male-dominated professions; whether J.D. was or was not an asshole at the beginning of the book; and the steamier sex scenes on the horizon for Book 3. I asked the waiter to take a picture of the group:
The Book Club girls (sans Melissa)
(I’m second from the left.)
Next up, we’re reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I’ll start just as soon as I finish Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh. AB is the first paranormal I’ve read, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I can say is… wow. I’m definitely going to have to check out more of Nalini Singh’s books.