Since becoming more familiar with the online book community, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to write a post about the importance of libraries for communities. While doing some research, I came across this article that is focused on community-centered reasons libraries are important. This article was better researched and written than anything I would have produced, so I hope that you’ll take some time and read it. I wanted to focus this post on something more specific, the privilege behind buying books and receiving publisher arcs/copies of books.
I was browsing booktube and came across this video, which I originally thought was a spoof of booktuber book hauls. Well, I guess it is in a way, but the person who created the video is also a booktuber who posts book haul videos… I’m not sure if that makes it more or less funny? Something I’ve been noticing about the community is that it’s really young. The main responsibility of my job is to work with college students on expanding their perspectives and (hopefully) educating them to become more conscious global citizens. So when I look at these first year college students, high school students, and recent college grads posting videos about the importance of reading diversely and queer literature – my heart swells just a tiny bit. Someone is doing something right in these young adults’ lives.
However, I’ve also noticed something a bit problematic surrounding how we talk about our access to books. I own A LOT of books (or at least I think so). Having moved to 4 different states over the past several years, I’m acutely aware of how difficult it is to transport your library. When I first started watching these individuals on YouTube, it was clear that they had double the amount of books I currently owned, and I thought it was so awesome to see young people who were so read well. Seriously, what was I doing with my life?!? Then I realized that TBR didn’t just mean books you thought were cool and might pick up some day, but rather books you owned but hadn’t read yet. I discovered this through the abundance of 0 TBR by *insert X year* challenges. I was shocked to see so many people who had upwards of a hundred books in their possession that they had yet to read. Right now, I have a lot of books that I recently received from my mother, which ups my total unread a lot (to 28).
So here’s the problem…
Not everyone can afford to buy books. This seems like a simple fact, but I don’t think it’s acknowledged enough. I often time video book hauls and other things ignore those individuals who don’t have access to pre-released materials (maybe because they’re not a reviewer, but also maybe because they don’t have access to the time and equipment needed to be a reviewer) and those who cannot afford to purchase 15-30 dollar books. Some reviewers talk about libraries, but they’re not mentioned nearly enough. The vast majority of the books that I read come from the library, and frankly always have come from the library. Libraries are such a great place for books, but also for the general education of the community. I hope that there can be a movement within our community to find different ways to support authorship, while also advancing the purpose of literature as an educational tool. As a person who possesses a lot of privilege, and who has the ability and access to publish reviews, I want to make sure that my content and posts are also helping advance this purpose.
Until Next Time World…or until Obama takes me to a bookstore…
UPDATE: I found this YouTube video that offers a different perspective.