I don’t know if Bob is his real name, but I saw him again today, and that’s what popped into my head. He is Library Bob, and I’m not entirely sure he ever leaves the library. I am fairly sure he’s a voracious reader, since he never seems to have the same book in hand. It’s always a thick book, too, a Stephen King-sized tome.
I’ve decided I like Library Bob. Anyone who reads like that has to be okay. Right? I don’t even care that he’s reading all these books for free. One might argue that if he bought each of those books he’d be contributing 10.7 cents to the authors who wrote each of those books, but most writers don’t write for the royalties. They write to be read, and Library Bob is certainly doing his part to pad the read count of each of those books.
No, I don’t write for the money; as much as I pimp myself and get on my cyber knees to beg people to buy my chit, I don’t write for the money. Few people ever make a whole lot o’loot in the writing game. Yes, I was mightily ticked off when the entire text of Charybdis wound up online, and as far as the publisher could tell there had been 25,000 downloads, but money was only a tiny part of that anger (Ok, in this case more than a tiny bit, seeing as how royalties on that would have gotten us out of debt and set us up nicely...) The biggest factor to that anger was the idea that I spent so long working on that book, I chipped away at its layers until there was something of substance, then I chipped away more until there was something worth presenting to the public, then I read and re-read until my eyes bled, then my head exploded when I found incontinuities and had to re-write yet again, then...you get the picture.
If someone really wants to read my books, even for free, I’m all for it. But I don’t want to be ripped off. I don’t want anyone to assume it’s ok to throw my work—something that took years to grow from idea to birth—online and offer it to the masses without my consent.
But a library...they pay for the book. Sure, 20,000 people could check it out and read it, and they don’t have to pay a dime to do so, but that’s different. It’s not a deliberate act against the author. Instead of feeling ripped off that my book might reach so many people, I’d feel honored if it wormed its way into the library system where it has the potential to reach so many people.
Then people like Library Bob could sit there in the chair at the end of the aisle, glasses posed Just So on his nose, and visually inhale the wonder that is my brain.
No, I won’t introduce myself to Library Bob to find out his real name. Aside from breaking the Protocol Of Regulars--thou shalt acknowledge each other but not intrude--I can’t do that on even my best day. I can approach a total stranger who seems to be in some sort of need in the middle of Tarzhey Booteek, or someone looking confuzzled in the hallways of the base hospital, but I can’t just walk up to someone and start talking. I am a crappy friend because of this; there’s always that “...but what if they don’t want to talk to me? I’m in the way, aren’t I? What in the hell can I contribute to a conversation because I AM SO LAME.”
Yeah, my brain works like that.
Don’t even ask me to go someplace new by myself. It won’t happen.
No, I am not on medication.
But because I AM SO LAME, I will not be introducing myself to Library Bob. I would be most happy if he introduced himself to me, and I wouldn’t mind in the least if he needed to share my table for whatever reason, but Thumper just does not introduce herself, especially to strange men in the library.
So Library Bob he shall be.