i do not want to have to seek out books with queer protagonists. i want to find them fucking everywhere without even looking, i want them to sneak up on me in the dead of night and scare the crap out of me and then let me read them. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS DIFFICULT.
*sneaks up behind you, slides
The Second Mango
over to you, taps you on the shoulder, then
runs away really fast
And Hey, there’s a sequel
coming in July.
Your main point stands, though. It’s not like books like mine and Foxglove Lee’s Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye
and Kayla Bashe’s Bluebell Hall
are just sitting around in mainstream bookstores — and I know I’m in one or two libraries but that’s only because someone filled out a request form. So the lack of books about people like us makes us feel invisible when we walk into those places — like they’re only for straight people, or like we should just care about only straight people’s stories because they make up the majority.
This. I’ve spent a very large chunk of my life in bookstores and libraries, and I still get very excited when I happen across a book that I can tell has queer characters, because they’re not all that common! Most of the ones I have found have been YA novels, and most of those tend to be teenager-coming-out stories. Trouble is… I’m now 24!
Maybe a bunch of us should just get together and open a queer e-book library? I’m not sure how the “public libraries lending out e-books” thing works, exactly, but…
Public libraries lend out ebooks by purchasing licenses for individual titles or bulk collections from companies like Overdrive and then managing the circulation of those titles on the companies’ propriety software platforms.
Honestly the best way to change this problem, though, is to request ALL THE BOOKS. Like, be a frequent library user, go in, request a title, check it out when it’s purchased, then have your friends/family/co-workers/etc check it out when you’re done with it, then wash-rinse-repeat. Circulation statistics are the key metrics librarians use to determine how they will spend their very limited book-buying budgets, and fortunately ebooks are cheap—much cheaper than paperbacks, by and large, especially from small companies like ours who offer unrestricted ebook access at full wholesale to libraries (instead of, say, charging four times retail for a license that expires in a year, like some large publishers do). So if you can get your local library to start with even just one queer book, and they see that that title is being checked out and has holds placed on it, then they’re going to be very likely to approve future queer book requests. And if those books are also checked out and have holds on them, eventually the library’s just going to throw its hands up and say, okay, yes, we get it—our customers want queer fiction and we will start to stock it regularly without you having to ask.
Some shining examples of libraries that stock queer fiction regularly, based on our own ebook sales records:
Seattle Public Library Greater Phoenix Digital Library (AZ)
Los Angeles Public Library
The State Library of Ohio
San Fransisco Public Library
Hillsborough County Public Library Collective (FL)
Kentucky Libraries Unbound
Indianapolis Public Library
Cuyahoga County Public Library
Wisconsin Public Library Consortium
King County Library System (WA)
SEO Library Center (OH)
Tampa Bay Library Consortium
Pima County Public Library (AZ)
Sno-Isle Libraries (WA)
Arapahoe Library District (CO)
All of the above libraries have at least 20 (and sometimes upwards of 200) of our titles in their collection (and, presumably, queer titles from other publishers as well). And here are some more libraries who have at least 10:
Virginia Beach Public Library
Ontario Library Service Consortium
Media On Demand (IL)
Libraries Southwest Consortium (LA)
Western Australia Public Libraries
Calgary Public Library
Pikes Peak Library District
Online Media of Northern Illinois
Daniel Boone Regional Library (MO)
Fresno County Public Library
Oshawa Public Libraries (CA)
Central Texas Digital Consortium
Auckland City Libraries
Allen County Public Library (IN)
And the list of libraries with 1 to 9 titles is far too long for a post. Also keep in mind this is just ebooks—tons of libraries also purchase our titles in print, though we don’t have access to this level of information about who’s buying what where with print titles.
Please support these libraries and their acquisitions of LGBTQ titles by getting a library card there and checking these ebooks out. If you want your library to be on this list, start requesting titles and then making sure they stay circulated.
Yes—Overdrive is what my city library uses. (I did find an e-book of The Miseducation of Cameron Post there the other day!)
I think you’ve got the right idea. I’ve been buying most of my queer e-books lately because frankly it’s faster, but libraries are freaking awesome and I’d love to see more queer books at mine. I’ve pretty much only got myself to push for that in my own meatspace network (at least at the moment), but if everyone who read this pitched in, who knows?
(I still think it would be neat to have a library of just queer books, too, though.)