This week, Sarah dives into the mailbag, or the inbox that she imagines looks like a mailbag, to answer listener email on topics ranging from novellas, clergy in romance, library behind the scenes information, and more.
Here are the podcast recommendations mentioned in this episode:
- The History of Rome
- Hardcore History
- History of English
- BBC Podcasts on WWI
- Inquiring Minds
- Read it and Weep
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
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This Episode's Music
Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater. This is Deviations Project, again, from their album Adeste Fiddles. I know a few of you also bought it – it’s really great, right?
This track is Here We Come a Wassailing, a traditional holiday carol about caroling.
This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Schooled—the all-new novella in the Mastered series from New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James.
When Amery Hardwick first met martial arts master Ronin Black, she wasn’t ready for the primal urges his sensual rope artistry released in her. As it turned out Amery and Ronin were made for each other. But when they head to Japan for a delayed honeymoon and Ronin’s annual training with his sensei, Amery struggles to adapt to the foreign customs as well as running her burgeoning business from afar.
But culture shock is the least of her worries when faced with the changes in Ronin—it feels as if she’s married a stranger. Caught between his sensei’s demands and pleasing his wife, Ronin is at war with himself over choosing advancement in his jujitsu training, or staying at home with the woman who owns his heart and soul. As the limits of their relationship are tested once again, Ronin and Amery discover that they both have a lot to learn about each other….and what it takes to build a love that’ll pass all life’s little tests.
Download it December 2nd!
❤ Click to view the transcript ❤
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 119 of the DBSA podcast. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and today it’s listener email or reader email or people who listen and read or both and then send email. Either way, if you’re not crazy about the sound of my voice, today is probably not the best podcast for you. Sorry. We have a lot of messages from really interesting people who have interesting things to say, which is awesome, ‘cause all of you are really smart, brilliant people. Did you know that? Totally true. We have topics like novellas, clergy in romance, and library behind-the-scenes information that’s really fascinating, and a bunch of other stuff, so I am going to be reading email and answering email, and maybe I’ll make some crap up. You never know.
This music is brought to you by Sassy Outwater. Also by her dogs, Ferdinand and her former service dog Kodak, who I got to meet last weekend in Boston. I will have information at the end of the podcast about who this is and where you can buy it, but if you’re guessing this might be Adeste Fiddles related, you’re probably right.
And we have a sponsor. Did you know that? I bet you knew that, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Schooled, the all-new novella in the Mastered series from New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James, on sale December 2nd and available for download wherever your finest eBooks are sold.
And now, on with the podcast.
Sarah: Our first email is from Amy, who wants to recommend a book for you, and the subject line of this email is “’If you liked’ for Last Hour of Gann + Kresley Cole,” so if you’re in that demographic, listen up:
“Hey Jane and Sarah,
“The podcast is amazing, as always! I caught up on a dozen episodes while cooking thanksgiving dinner away from my mother for the first time (I live on the opposite coast now), and it was lovely to have the podcast as moral support!”
Sarah: I hope everything you made tasted awesome.
“Anyway, I wanted to give a shout out to a relatively new author named Lesley Young that I think would definitely interest your listeners! Her books are $2.99 on Kindle (or free on Kindle Unlimited, which is how I happened to read her in the first place!). She’s my new favorite author, and doesn’t seem to have much help with promoting her books, so I wanted to spread the word!
“Ages ago, you discussed The Last Hour of Gann on the podcast. It’s hard to think of good ‘if you liked’ recommendations for R. Lee Smith, since the author is so…. amazingly bizarre. (Seriously, have you read Cottonwood or Heat? The inside of her brain must be like what Eric Cartman sees when he shuts his eyes.)
“However, I recently read Sky’s End by Lesley Young and I think it fits the bill as a unique scifi with a strong, but very flawed heroine struggling in a new alien society. The plot sounds like the worst tropes of the genre combined into one big mess (virgin space cadet heroine is sacrificed for the sake of duty and a hopeless secret mission to uniformly hot 7 foot tall aliens, who are eager to bag human women since their own race’s women have issues with sex) – [S: Y-yeah.] – but I promise you, the author somehow overcomes the ridiculous premise, avoids clichés, and turns the tropes on their head with good writing and a well-fleshed out alien society!
“There is definitely no insta-love, but rather complex sexual dynamics as the heroine struggles at various moments with duty, lust, love, curiosity and desperation. At first, I had serious reservations. It was a free book, so my expectations were low. The author writes very casually, and in an almost stream of conscious style that matches the heroine’s impulsive personality. But I got caught up in the plot very quickly and was surprised to find that I not only loved the story, but actually respected the author’s intelligence. (She did her physics homework!)
“Not only has Young written a pretty great scifi romance, but a few days ago she released her first in a series of erotic contemporary romances called ‘Crime Royalty Romance’. Each book is the story of a woman living abroad and getting entangled with a man who is family with the local crime syndicate. The first is The Frenchman and it’s about a young American woman who moves to the port city of Toulon, France to connect with her biological mother, an inspector for the local police who is cracking down on gangs at the port. The heroine, Fleur, quickly falls in lust with an insanely hot professional rugby player, from a wealthy family in the shipping business. Of course, all is not as it seems with him or his family. I devoured The Frenchman in a single night, and totally loved it! It’s the closest thing I’ve read to Kresley Cole’s The Professional in characters, emotions, hot rough sex (minus the BDSM exploration in Cole’s book) and the international high-stake romantic plot, while definitely maintaining a unique voice and story. Young’s writing isn’t as polished as Cole’s (Kresley Cole is a machine who churns out pure gold every time in my eyes) but it’s well edited, emotional and exciting.
“What I like most of all about Young’s writing, is that she really focuses her story on the heroine. Both books pass the Bechdel test, and even if the men in each book dropped off the face of the earth, you’d still have a pretty good story based on the heroine’s path and relationships with family and friends. It’s just way more fun with the sex and romance thrown in the mix too. 🙂
“Her second and third Crime Royalty Romances are coming out in December and January, so the wait is short!
“Thanks for all your hard work with the podcast and websites!
Sarah: Okay, I love reader recommendations when someone’s genuinely excited about a book, but when they, when, when you articulate all of these things, like, I’m not, I’m not an alien society sci-fi reader, and my brain was like, oh, really? Let us clicky-click buy! So, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, I want to own that, I want to read it right now, do not worry! Every episode that we post comes with links to all the books we discuss, and you can find it at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/
Sarah: Our next email is from Kelly, who is known online also as library addict. She was responding to our podcast from earlier this fall with Kate Noble, podcast number 115, wherein I interviewed Kate Noble about The Librarians, which is a show that is so, so my catnip I can’t even tell you, but at the end of that podcast we talked about novellas, and that is what Kelly wanted to write about.
“Dear Sarah and Jane,
“I usually enjoy reading novellas. I like stand-alone novellas, but they are much harder to write convincingly than series novellas. Shannon Stacey and Jennifer Greene have written some of the best examples of stand-alone novellas. I think Shannon Stacey really excels at writing novellas. And Jennifer Greene’s Riley’s Baby from the Birds, Bees, and babies anthology is my all-time favorite. I really wish she would release that in digital as my paperback has fallen apart from repeat readings since it came out in 1990.
“As for novellas within a series, I love the ones Nalini Singh writes for her Psy/Changeling world as they focus on the romance and we get the stories of characters we would otherwise not see. I also think the early novellas in the JD Robb In Death series were some wonderful stories. But I really disliked Possession in Death and Chaos in Death as I felt she broke the rules of her series crossing the line into actual paranormal. But overall, I like getting to visit the worlds I love when authors write novellas in long-running series. A good novella is like a bonus story and I say keep them coming.
“I am not sure how well they work as introductions to a series though. I am trying to recall if a novella has ever hooked me on a story. I waited to read Victoria Dahl’s Just One Taste in The Guys Next Door anthology after Sarah’s rant on the blog. I am so glad I did as I would not have continued with the series if I hadn’t already purchased them all. As it was I enjoyed the first two full-length books in the trilogy. I thought the hero in the novella and final book of the trilogy was a complete creep for lying to the heroine. Overall, I found their story dull. So that was a case of my reading the series despite the introductory novella not because of it. And I haven’t read much else by the author.
“I can only think of a few instances where an introductory novella got me hooked… I loved Magic in the Wind, the introductory story of Christine Feehan’s Drake Sisters series. I read it when it first came out and read each subsequent book as it was released. I’ve always felt the older sisters got the short end of the stick since their stories were shorter. I liked all seven couples in the series. I admit I am more fond of a few of the sisters than others, but there aren’t any I disliked. My main complaint is that while I liked all of the characters, I don’t think the individual books mesh well as a series. I didn’t get the feeling only a year had gone by in the town of Sea Haven since Sarah first returned in book 1 through the end of book 7. And I think CF changed some of her rules she set up in the earlier books of the series as the books were written/published. I also had a ton of issues with the final book. Sorry, I know that’s off topic…
“More recently, I liked Hope Smolders, the introductory novella in Jaci Burton’s Hope series. I read it when it was first released and each subsequent book though I have yet to read the latest book in the series which just recently came out. But I’d read other books by Jaci Burton so she wasn’t a new-to-me author.
“I didn’t care for All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand, the introductory novella in her Amour et Chocolat series. But that was another case of I’d already purchased all of the books. So far I’ve only read the first full-length book but the rest of them are in my TBR pile and I do plan to read them eventually.
“Those are the only instances I can think of with introductory novellas. I think it’s more common for authors to release novellas in the middle of series. But as I am usually a read-in-order person, I have no clue how these work attracting new readers to a series.
“One type of novella which wasn’t mentioned in the podcast was the Christmas novella. I read tons of them every year. I think winter holiday novellas are a unique in that somewhat like long-running series, the set-up is built in. They fall into an easy set of pre-determined categories:
“- the one of the characters hates Christmas type
“- the one of the characters needs a date to various family shindigs so they fake a relationship type
“- the thrown together by another family member during various shindigs type
Sarah: [Laughs] So true! So true!
“The last few years I’ve read a number of Christmas novellas set in Australia where it’s summer rather than winter. But I do wish there were more non-Christmas holiday novellas. If listeners have any recommendations for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa stories I’d like to hear them.
“Kelly (aka library addict)”
Sarah: Okay, first of all, that’s completely true. [Laughs] Those are exactly the kinds of holiday novellas that you get. I need a fake date, my family is annoying, or I hate Christmas. It’s so true! [Laughs more.] Oh, that makes me laugh! Yes, thank you. Okay, there is nothing I love better when someone comes up with a truly, truly exacting taxonomy of what kind of books fall into this genre. Oh, that made my day. Thank you so much, Kelly.
Now, I did not plan this, and I actually hadn’t fully read through the entirety of this email before I started recording, but when Kelly asked for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stories, well, yes, that’s relevant to my interests. I have a rule that – in, like, my personal life and my professional life – that I’m not allowed to complain about something more than twice, because if I complain about it more than twice, then I either have to do something about it or stop complaining. So once I hit three then I either have to do something to change it or quit kvetching already.
Now, every year I get a little annoyed at the lack of romances for the holidays that feature something other than Christmas, because, you know, I’m, I’m sure this is shocking, but not everyone Christian. But I get really irritated when it’s like Christmas hose all over everything, we have drowned the whole genre’s novellas right now in Christmas, and I’m like, but, but, but, but, but fried food is good, and Hanukkah is kind of awesome. So, because I have complained more than twice, I decided this year, okay, you’re going to do something about it, or you’re going to stop complaining altogether. So I wrote a contemporary romance set around Hanukkah. It’s a little fatter than a novella; its 51-something,000 words, but it’s not quite a full-length story, but it’s a romance, there’s Hanukkah, it’s set at a summer camp in winter, and I’m going to self publish it during Hanukkah this year as a gift to everybody who also might potentially dislike the lack of other religions in Holiday Romance Land. That’ll be up on my site probably during Hanukkah, I’m hoping. The story takes place during Hanukkah this year, so theoretically, it could show up any time during Hanukkah 2014, but either way, that’s what I’m doing, because, well, I’m not allowed to complain about something more than twice without doing something about it, and Kelly is totally right. There is a total lack of other-than-Christmas novellas, and I get why they are there. They sell really well, because people react to what’s going on around them by reading more about it, and it’s totally the holiday season ‘cause, well, actually, it’s been the holiday season since, like, September 12th, because I totally saw Christmas trees in Kohl’s right before Halloween, and, yeah, guh. Pretty soon the holiday season will start in, like, June. July 4th, Christmas! at the same time. Either way, I did not plan this, but yes, that is a thing that I am doing, and I hope that if you try it and you like it, you’ll let me know! My goal here was to not embarrass myself. High bar, I know. Anyway.
As for novellas that are in the middle of a series, I agree, those often work a little better because they let people revisit the world that they’ve been in, and – sort of like the television series that fills in the gap between movies. That’s also pretty cool. Introductory novellas, much like Kelly said, they don’t work as well for me either.
Interestingly enough, though, I do have an email from Julia that also talks a little about religion, so I’m going to tackle that one now:
“I’m wondering if you can hunt someone up to discuss the genre ‘inspirational’ romance- frequent tropes, etc. Are the Amish the ton of the Inspirationals?
Sarah: [Laughs] Are the Amish the ton of inspirationals? That’s a good question.
“Also, why is no one in Romanceland ever mildly religious? No one goes to church/temple/mosque on a semi-regular basis? Bible study? Hebrew class? Women’s prayer group?
“In that whole group of Kowalskis, no one went to Mass on a regular basis?
“And I’ve yet to read a contemporary romance with a clergy main character. I mean, we can’t all be Navy SEALs. Someone’s got to be a chaplain.”
Sarah: Okay, first of all, yes, someone totally needs to be a chaplain. What I find interesting is that there are a lot of vicars in historical romance that I could think of almost immediately, which is not something my brain does. There’s Too Love and to Cherish by Pat Gaffney and A Notorious Countess Confesses, which is the Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Anne Long, and what I liked about that book was that the vicar understood, he’s the hero, and he understood how his role and his job had so much more of a social impact than it did a religious impact and how his, his entire work was tied up in the society of the town. Not just the religious society of the town, but the whole town. Plus, there was very little separation for him, as he saw it, between himself and his job, and his conduct had to fit his job at all times, which I can imagine would be a little bit difficult.
One aspect of the historical role of clergy, especially that’s really, really ripe for writing about in the romance genre, is something I learned from a Bill Bryson book called At Home where he traces the history of the different rooms of our houses and why the things that we assume will be part of a house weren’t always parts of our homes in historical times. One of the things that he talks about in this book is the fact that vicars and clergy in far-flung parts of England were not just people who sort of stood up and preached. They had a job and a living and a, and usually a house provided for them, and a lot of them, according to Bryson, would just buy this big old book of sermons and then just read one every week. You know, here, sermon to go, sort of like the historical version of the Word a Day calendar. The Sermon a Week book. So they’d buy a Sermon a Week book, and they’d read the sermon, and they’d do the visiting and other things that their job expected of them, but then they would sit around and invent shit. Like, they invented all kinds of things. I remember in the book there’s, like, a whole list of things that vicars or clergy invented in rural parts of England because they had time, and they weren’t writing sermons, ‘cause they had those delivered. The idea that vicars did so much more than just stand up and preach is really interesting, especially if they were sitting up there tinkering and inventing things. That’s cool! Anyway, I would love to read historical romance about, you know, inventing vicars.
But as for Julia’s email, yeah, totally! Contemporary romance does have a lack of clergy. One of my cats, Spawn, is here. I don’t know if you can hear him, but he totally agrees. There is a lack of clergy, and he thinks it should be addressed in contemporary romance, outside of the Amish inspirationals.
The last time I read a book that featured characters actively participating in religion was when I was trying a bunch of samples by a writer, and I, I, I hope I get this name right, and I’m probably going to mess it up, and I apologize in advance. It’s either Niobia (Nee-oh-bee-uh) Bryant or Niobia (Nigh-oh-bee-uh) Bryant, and if I mispronounced that and you know the right way, please let me know, ‘cause I feel bad not knowing how to say her name. Anyway, Ms. Bryant writes a whole bunch of different kinds of contemporary romances, and I tried a bunch of samples because she writes all the tropes that I like. It was just, it was really hard to choose, so I read all the sample. Anyway. When I was reading the samples one after the other, I realized there’s a lot of characters going to church. Oh, that’s not something I read a whole lot of, but, yes, they all went to church. Otherwise, I am inventorying my limited memory, and I can’t think of many other books I’ve read where the characters participate in worship.
So here’s a question for you: do you know a lot about inspirational romance? You want to talk about it? You should email me! [email protected]. This is not a genre I know a whole lot about, but if you have a lot of ideas about the makeup and the genre and the trope of inspirational and you’d like to talk about it, or if you know an absolute crapton of contemporary romances that feature clergy of any religion, I want to know about that too. You can email us at [email protected].
And I think Julia makes a totally valid point: in that whole group of Kowalskis, nobody went to Mass. Okay, that’s hilarious. [Laughs] It’s completely true; I never even thought about that.
I wonder if the reason there aren’t a lot of contemporary clergy is that doing so positions the book within a very specific group, and contemporary romance aims for a sort of unilateral, wide arc of appeal, sort of like the difference between an art house movie and a super-duper blockbuster with superheroes blowing stuff up. The more specific of a religion or a culture that’s portrayed in the book, perhaps that’s seen within publishing and marketing as too limited an audience, and so the idea is to make it as widely applicable as possible. I don’t know if that’s actually true; that’s mostly me thinking out loud, which I probably shouldn’t do while I’m recording, but oh, well. If you have ideas, though, I totally want to know what you think. [email protected]. And thank you, Julia, for emailing me. That is a really good question.
Sarah: A little while back, I asked for podcast recommendations and also received email about asking for podcast recommendations, and I have two messages containing all of the podcasts you may want to subscribe to. Get ready, and don’t worry, I will link to all of these in the podcast entry.
This email is from Kimberly:
“I love podcasts and listen to them frequently (yours is my favorite, of course). [S: Thank you!] Here are a few I like. Book Riot Podcast – it is podcast about news in the world of books and publishing. It is very focused on literary fiction. I don’t always have the same taste in books, but I enjoy the conversation a lot. Read it and Weep – Sarah has appeared on this one. [S: Yes, I have!] They make fun of bad books, movies, and tv (and sometimes not so bad ones too). It is hilarious, but a little raunchy. Not safe for work or travel in the car with small people.”
Sarah: The Read It and Weep people are some of the funniest people that I’ve ever talked to, and recording with them – I’m sure there’s a lot of editing, because there’s a lot of wheeze-laughing ‘cause they’re all hilarious.
Kimberly also recommends:
“Bookrageous – this is a book club podcast. The first half is a discussion of what everyone is reading. The second half is a more traditional book club discussion. I find it interesting and entertaining… For those who are crafty, one of my favorite book + craft podcasts is CraftLit. The first part of it is a discussion of crafty stuff and a fun lit class all in one. The second half is a part of a book in the public domain (like an audiobook). Right now, she is reading North and South. I just love Heather Ordover (the lady who does this podcast). She makes me love each of the books as much as she does. She also has links to the previous books (with the podcasts for each book grouped together). I have just started listening to Serial. I am hooked. It is a true crime story that has been serialized for the podcast.
I have a second email about podcasts from Susanna Fraser:
“Hi Sarah and Jane,
“I really enjoyed last week’s podcast, and am now definitely planning to DVR The Librarians, since it sounds like it will simultaneously push my Sleepy Hollow and Doctor Who buttons.
Sarah: I think, yes, that show definitely pushes those buttons, or at least sort of nudges them accidentally.
“Thanks to you mentioning it once before, I’m already hooked on Pop Culture Happy Hour, and I’ve been a This American Life listener off and on for years. I’ll definitely be checking out America’s Test Kitchen, and I’m looking forward to other listener recommendations, because I always need more podcasts for housework and commuting.
“My podcast rotation runs heavily to the history geeky, but I know I’m not the only history geek following your podcast, so…
“- I love both of Mike Duncan’s podcasts, The History of Rome and Revolutions. The former is a completed 179-episode saga following ancient Rome from its mythical origins through the fall of the Western Empire, while the latter is an ongoing series on major political revolutions – he started with the English Civil War, moved on to the American Revolution, and is now up to 1791 in the French Revolution. Duncan has a dry, wry wit and a talent for explaining the complexities of, say, the imperial succession during the most turbulent years in Rome or the various political factions in Revolutionary France that keeps them lively and memorable:
“- Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History isn’t updated anything like as frequently as I want, but he’s a great storyteller who dives deeply into his chosen topics and eras:
“- Kevin Stroud’s History of English podcast is good for anyone who’d enjoy an obsessively detailed dive into how English came to be from its Indo-European roots going forward:
Sarah: Did you all hear my inner groundhog just stick her head up out of the ground and go, What? ‘Cause yeah, hello! I wish to listen to that: put in my ears right now!
Back to Susanna’s email:
“- The BBC has been putting out some excellent WWI podcasts this year:
“- And pivoting from history to science geekery, Inquiring Minds is reliably fascinating:
Sarah: I will have links to all of those podcasts in the podcast entry, and I will also be subscribing to most of them, because that sounds rad! Thank you very much for that email.
Sarah: I have one more email to share, and this one is about libraries and behind-the-scenes information, and it is from Ashley:
“Dear Sarah and Jane,
“I’m writing in response to Podcast 117. You can share what I’ve said but it’s long, rambling, and mostly just an explanation of how I have worked in libraries and what I’ve encountered in PA and MD.
“I’ve been working in libraries for seven years. I started as a student employee in a university and spent 2.5 years dealing with archival materials. We didn’t have to worry much about budgets when it came to procurement since the highlight was university documents. I then worked in a larger PA library (monthly circs of 30-50 thousand) at the circulation desk. I worked there for 3.5 years. Now I’m a tech trainer and reference associate at a really small rural library. I’ve seen it all at this point.
“On Keeping Track of Non-circulated readings:
“One way to keep track of books that are read in the library is to really try and recommend people do not reshelve them. At my small library (and my previous big library), we track ‘in-house circs’. So anytime something is left laying out, it is scanned ‘in house’ to show someone looked at it/read it/photocopied a picture/etc. Magazines are marked down, videos, etc. Everything is kept track of in our circulation. Now our general circ info doesn’t show in-house stuff but at the end of the year we run an in-house report so the numbers mean something.
“That helps us track reference materials and non-circulating materials. The number of times someone looks at a genealogical record for the county (which are locally produced) is logged every time someone returns it to the circ desk or leaves it laying out.
“It’s not a perfect solution but it does allow those numbers to be analyzed. We’ve kept reference materials when they seem outdated simply because they are looked at constantly.
“The money keeps getting smaller as budgets are cut and all types of media have price increases. I remember buying paper books when I was a teenager for 3.99. Now they are 7.99. (3.99 – 40% discount = 2.39 but 7.99 – 40% discount = 4.79). Same number of pages but 80 cents more than the old copy. In the end the discount isn’t really saving libraries any money since the cost went up and the budget got smaller.
“On top of that in our library it is difficult to accept donations into the library collection.
Sarah: And I will be honest with you guys, this is something I so want to know about, because I used to donate a lot of books to the library, and then I would see them for sale for 50 cents, and I would be like, but, but, but, but those were, those are new! I got three copies of that new book. Why is it being, why aren’t you, why don’t you have the best romance collection in the world now? I don’t understand. So, this part was really interesting to me. Anyway.
“…in our library it is difficult to accept donations into the library collection. Why? We employ roughly 15 staff members (okay 12 full with 3 part-time) across three branches. When we order from Baker and Taylor or Midwest, they provide the MARC records.
Sarah: That’s M-A-R-C. I’m not sure what that stands for.
“All our cataloger has to do is plug in barcodes and a place in the catalog. They do not have to do anything else but cover the book. When we get a donation, the person has to input all the information about subject, genre, call number, barcode, etc. etc. We have two people who catalog and both of them do 15 other jobs as well. No one has time to input all those MARC records [S: for books that are donated].
“That means that our library relies on things that are ordered from those two places. [S: Baker and Taylor and Midwest.] If someone self-publishes or does not sell through those distributors then we have to ILL the book and hope for the best. Yes Maryland has a Consortium for the e-Library (all of MD) but when you have 8 copies of Never Judge a Lady by Her Coverand 553 holds, it is going to take awhile. When it comes to physical items it can get even dicier (unbelievable I know). Some counties will not lend any AV material at all. Some will not lend anything published in the past year. Some barely lend anything at all. So even with access, we’re stymied.
“Another issue is the metering of eBooks. Have you ever checked a book out of the library and never read it? That counts as a circ for paper and digital. The problem is the paper book comes back and it’s like ‘Yay one more circ’. The digital copy lost one of the 26 lends. That’s one additional person that won’t get to read that book because someone checked it out and didn’t get to it. The paper copy comes back undamaged and might last 100 circs. That digital copy is going out up to 25 more times.
“I think the real problem plaguing libraries is the lack of public knowledge. There are still countless numbers of people who come in and seem genuinely surprised they can borrow books for free. So many people do not know about OverDrive or the e-Library. So many people do not know we rent movies and have newspapers and magazines. It’s crazy. We advertise constantly. We post signs, put ads and articles in the local paper, we use social media, run a website, etc. but still so many people are unaware. You look at a population of 20000 county residents and maybe only 5000 have library cards (I’m being generous). Why? The first sign of snow and people run in for something to read in the event they get snowed in but they never come otherwise. People want computer classes but when it is time for the class, no one comes. They rush in to charge their phones when there are power outages but don’t check anything out ever. It’s frustrating to say the least.
“A lot of people complain about our hours (short Saturdays, no Sundays) because we aren’t open when we’re needed for last minute projects or other things. The thing is we have to heat/cool, power, and provide staff for those additional hours. If we are open all day Saturday and Sunday then we need another employee. That employee’s salary takes away from money that is spent on the collection. We debated getting a security system to stop theft but it would cost 30,000 dollars for one door to be secured. That’s an employee. We have to make these tough calls and the patron suffers.
“Did you know in PA to get funding from the government you have to be open 40 hours a week? One of my old local libraries fell on hard times and took to begging for money. They needed enough money to reach 40 hours per week in order to get the additional funding from the government. They were saying if they didn’t get the donations then the doors would be closed permanently because they needed the thousands of dollars from the government just to stay adrift. The whole system is built for libraries to fail. We need money to keep services running but we can only get money if we keep services running. It’s backwards and terrible and the first place to see cuts when money is needed elsewhere.
“I just needed to vent about this issue since most of my friends are bored with my venting. A lot of people do not understand how it works in the same way people do not often realize a job in a library does not mean we get to read all day.
Sarah: That was an answer that I have been wondering about, why the things that are donated don’t get added to the collection. I know that my local library often suffers from, here are five boxes of old, moldy, gross, somewhat wet magazines from my basement, enjoy, but if I get duplicate copies of a new book and I haven’t been able to give them to anybody, I would donate them to the library, and then I would see them the following month for sale for 50 cents and be like, what? I don’t understand. That makes total sense. I wish there were a way to not only donate to the library but also to donate data entry to the library. Like, if there was a way to donate eBooks, for one thing, but also to donate the time to enter books that they can’t catalog because they don’t have enough staff, that would also be kind of cool.
I am betting that a lot of you listening were thinking, but, but I use my library! I go all the time! I don’t understand! Okay, so here’s my question for you: when do you go to the library? What do you use your library for? I’m really curious. One of the things that I know is almost constant among romance readers is that when we discuss libraries, so many people say, I go to the library all the time because my reading appetite is always larger than my book budget, and there are people who talk about how when they started reading romance, their library was the only place that they could get it, ‘cause they couldn’t buy their own books for many, many reasons. It seems from my perspective, and granted, I listen to a somewhat limited section of the romance readership – I don’t hear from all of it, I just hear from a small part of it – it seems that libraries are very closely connected to romance readers, and I’m curious, how do you use your local library? Do you get books from there? Do you check out eBooks? Do you pay attention to which books you get from the library? Do you think of the library before buying? How do you interact with your local library? What are your favorite features of your local library? I’m, I’m very curious. And if you aren’t familiar with your library or you don’t use your library and you have reasons why, I’d also like to hear them too. I’ve been very fortunate to meet many, many romance-friendly librarians, but I’m also aware that there are some who openly look down on the genre or will make comments about books that people check out, and oh, that makes me sad, but I know that’s happened to some people as well. Either way, I’m really curious about how you interact with your library, how you use your library, or whether you do or you don’t. If you haven’t figured out, I’m very, very nosy, so, yeah, basically, I just want to know all your business. What are you reading? Where do you go to the library? What do you like about it? Tell me, tell me, tell me. Nosiness. This is, this is the first thing you need when you start a podcast, apparently. A lot of nosiness and a headset with a microphone, and you’re good to go.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s podcast. Thank you to everyone who wrote me an email, because you are all fascinating and interesting.
If you have thoughts; if you have ideas; if you’re like, dude, oh, my God, stop talking, you can email me at [email protected]. You can also email Jane and tell her she’s wrong about something, because I try to do that once a day. Don’t always win the argument – usually I don’t – but I still try, right? That, the point is to try. She’s probably listening to this and rolling her eyes sohard right now.
This week’s podcast was brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Schooled, the all-new novella in the Mastered series from New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James. This book went on sale on December 2, so it is likely everywhere and anywhere you buy your most excellent eBooks.
Our music each week is provided by Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater, and if you were thinking, I bet this is Adeste Fiddles, you are totally right, because it’s completely awesome. I love this album. This is Deviations Project from their holiday album Adeste Fiddles, still the undisputed champion of holiday album names. This is the traditional song, “Here We Come A-Wassailing.” A-Was-sale-ing? Wassailing. Waffling. I would like to go waffling, if everyone’s cool with that; let’s go waffling.
If you’re curious and nosy, like I am, as you know, “Here We Come A-Wassailing” is also known as “Here We Come A-Caroling,” and this is an English traditional carol and new year’s song that was apparently composed somewhere around 1850, according to Wikipedia, which is, of course, never wrong. This song refers to wassailing, or was-sale-ing maybe? Singing carols door to door, wishing good health. Wassailing, or wissling, or however you say it, is a very ancient custom, and it comes from an Anglo-Saxon phrase, waes hail, I think, which means good health, and wassail is also derived in part from old Norse and old English, which is really kind of cool.
And one more thing that you should know, wassail is apparently a thing. It is a beverage. I did not know this, and I think I need to make some, because it is a combination of hot ale or beer, apples, spices, and mead, just alcoholic enough to warm people up. I like this plan, right? I need to make some. I think I need to brew some. I think I need to drink some when I’m recording the next podcast, because that would be even more entertaining, right?
I said the email address for the podcast many, many times, but I’m going to say it again, because maybe you’re thinking, I know how to say that word, Sarah, and I should tell you. Yes, you totally should tell me, ‘cause I’m like, I have no idea how to say that. You can email us at [email protected], or you can call and leave a message, and all you have to do is say the word and tell me how to say it – [laughs] – ‘cause I don’t know! The number is 1-201-371-DBSA. You don’t need to say who you are if you don’t want to, you can just call and say the word over and over so I won’t make a big mistake and figure out how to say it on my own badly. Thank you very much.
I bet there’s a person right now who’s like, I am a professional wassailer, and that’s enough saying the word wrong. So if I did say it wrong, I’m sorry.
Either way, thank you very much for listening this week. On behalf of all of the excellent people who emailed me and all of the excellent people listening and Jane and myself, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend.
[drinking music, obviously!]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.