Guest post by author Fran Moreland Johns.
Whenever I’ve had a book published I have celebrated every sale. But the biggest cause for celebration – the sale that always made me most proud – was when a library acquired a copy or two. Individuals may purchase a book, shelve it or pass it along to a friend, and thereafter it disappears. Libraries are forever.
This is the belief that underscores my enthusiasm for the Internet Archive. While the Atlanta Public Library may one day cull my book to make room for someone else’s, those words I labored over and so treasure, whether anyone else ever treasures them or not, are safe with the Internet Archive. And may it thrive and prosper.
This is all a very long way from my literary beginnings on a Royal portable typewriter. I wrote for newspapers and magazines – the Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA Today, National Real Estate Investor to cite just a few of the wildly different multiple dozens – from the early 1950s into the technologically bewildering 2020s. Eventually I added an MFA in short fiction to my BA in Art and veered into short stories, with a few tiny publication successes, including Dying unafraid (1999) and Perilous Times: An inside look at abortion before – and after – Roe v Wade (2013). When the internet came along, I tiptoed in via a blog for news aggregate site True/Slant.com which eventually morphed into today’s franjohns.net. With a little luck my short story collection, Marshallville Stories, will be published in 2022; the Internet Archive will get one of the first copies.
I’ve been following the conflict between U.S. publishers and the Internet Archive with some degree of horror and dismay. Publishers, I realize, are in business to make money and thereby stay in business. Do they not want people, as many people as possible, to read the books they publish? After the first flurry of sales (perhaps excluding the blockbuster books that will make big bucks for authors and publishers alike, may they also thrive and prosper) does it not follow that publishers would want their books to enjoy long and successful lives? That, at least, is the hope I believe most authors harbor. I can’t claim to speak for other authors, but this I know is personally true: I write for the joy of writing, and in the hope of being read. I’d be surprised if there were many writers out there who don’t feel the same.
So let’s hear it for libraries. And for the one that’s unique among all others, the Internet Archive.
Fran Moreland Johns has been writing (for newspapers, magazines, online sites) since the 1950s, and blogging since she was introduced to the idea via a paid blog for news aggregate site True/Slant in 2009. Her roots are in small town Virginia and her heart is in hometown San Francisco. She currently blogs on Medium.com and www.franjohns.net. You can read Dying unafraid (1999) online through the Internet Archive’s lending library.