I’m fascinated by the Public Lending Right scheme wherein authors receive money from the government for the lending of their books in public libraries. Nothing like having a little money involved to get accurate statistics on who is reading what. One author reports on what people are actually reading at the library.
The truth is that public libraries have become a service for the very young – the place where you go to inspire the nippers with a love for literature. For better or worse (and I’d say worse), they are no longer where many adults go in search of information (what’s Google for, after all?).
If adults go at all, it seems that it’s hardback fiction that they are mainly after. Josephine Cox and Danielle Steel came in second and third place in PLR’s top twenty last year (with sales in Steel’s case totalling over 500 million, I’m not quite sure this is the kind of struggling writers that the Brophy’s had in mind). And so far as I can see, there were no authors of non-fiction for adults in the top hundred; though Terry Deary, who wrote the Rotten Romans etc for kids, non-fictin of a kind, does get there.