Author Criticizes Reader Who Complimented His Book For Borrowing It From The Library Instead Of Buying It

Why was he so offended?

Library book open on table. Chinnapong via Shutterstock

Imagine picking up a new book at the library that you're excited to read and sharing it on social media, only to be shamed by the author for not purchasing a copy. That's exactly what happened to a man on X named Jay.

He was publicly shamed by author Rob Copeland for using the library to read his book.

Author Rob Copeland criticized a reader for borrowing his book from the library instead of buying it.

Excited about a new book he borrowed from the library, Jay took to X to excitedly share his new read. To his surprise, the author responded. Unfortunately, his response did not come with delight.


Instead of thanking Jay for the free publicity and for being a fan of his work, Copeland, New York Times journalist and author of "The Fund: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates and the Unraveling of a Wall Street Legend,” responded to Jay’s post by slamming his choice to check the book out of the library instead of buying a copy. 

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Libraries pay more per book than a reader would in-store.

As it turns out, Mr. Copeland should have used some of his investigative journalism skills to do a little digging before making such a seemingly greedy-sounding post.

On average, libraries pay $40-60 per licensed book copy they put on their shelves. Amazon has Copeland’s book listed at $20.99 for a hardcover and $23.04 for a paperback copy. That's a significant difference. Granted, there are fewer libraries than individual purchasers, but the markup seems to offset the difference. Audiobooks and e-books are even more expensive for libraries.

But let's get down to brass tacks here. Does Copeland, outside of his tone-deaf response to a former fan of his work, have a point? Does checking a book out of the library hurt the publishing revenue stream and impact the writer's earning potential? Short answer — no.

Author Criticizes Reader For Borrowing His Book From The Library Instead Of Buying ItPhoto: Yan Krukau / Canva Pro


Jen Worick, a publisher at Sasquatch Books and a New York Times best-selling author, told KIRO News Radio, “I have never heard of an author who would be unhappy to have their books in a library. When I was writing books, I was always excited to tell people, ‘Hey, if you aren’t able to buy my book, go request it from the library.’ Long waiting lists for a book indicate to the library to order more books, but also readers who may not want to wait that long, they do go out and buy the book.”

Elena Gutierrez, the collection services manager at Seattle Public Library, agreed. She explained to the outlet, "You are absolutely supporting authors when you check out books from the library. Libraries buy millions of books every year. In 2021, the Seattle Public Library spent $6.4 million on books.”

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But why does the Copeland dislike libraries so much?

Despite all the benefits of libraries, Copeland does have a point, albeit a minor one. Authors do not receive royalties from secondhand sales.


This means that once a library purchases a book, it can resell it or allow as many people as it wants to read it. Authors receive the initial payment when the book is sold to the library, but after that, it is up to the library. Here's the thing, though. The same can be said for individual purchasers. If I buy a book and loan it to a friend or, at some point, sell it at a garage sale, the author makes no profit. 



In the end, Copeland doesn't have much of an argument. In fact, he is completely ignoring the benefits of having his book available in local libraries across the country — free advertising. Not only is his book getting exposure, but so is his name. Take that one step further — libraries promote reading. When there are more readers, there are more potential book buyers.

Libraries offer more than just free books. These public spaces are community centers and gathering places where ideas are shared and minds are opened.

Libraries are one of the last vestiges in our capitalistic world that is truly altruistic. 


Books have the power to change minds, bring joy, and create opportunity. Everyone should have access to books, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an author who disagrees except for maybe ... one.

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Madison Piering is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team specializing in human interest and pop culture topics.