Monday, March 12, 2012

An open letter to Judy Blume

Are you there, Judy? It's me, Turner....

Dear Ms. Blume,

I am a big fan - on many levels. Born in the early 80s, I grew up with your books. They were in my home, in my classrooms and in my public and school libraries. As a child, the covers of your books were comforting. I especially loved the Fudge Series. They helped me recognize that no family was perfect and that relationships between brothers can be difficult, but are still built on love. Important lessons for a ten year old boy.

I will be honest - between middle school and graduate school, I did not think of you or your books that often. But I continued to be an avid reader. You slipped back into my life in 2008 - when I was working at a bookstore and saw that you wrote the introduction to that year’s Best American Nonrequired Reading (I especially loved your pirate photo).  Rediscovering you prepared me for learning of your rock-star status when I entered library school in 2009. Librarians LOVE you - as we should. You have been on the forefront of the fight against censorship and you deserve every award and accolade you have received.

Last week, when it was announced that 13 of your titles are going to be released as ebooks, I felt compelled to write you. As someone who rides public transportation, I am a fan of ereaders. I also believe that offering the opportunity to read in a variety of formats is a good thing - what K. G. Schneider describes as a reading ecology. That said, the way publishers provide ebooks to libraries is causing me anxiety. Especially Random House, who appear to be raising some prices as much as 300%. These prices will take a large bite out of library’s budgets and might hinder our ability to provide an expansive collection to our community members. Some librarians are already thinking of alternative uses for their ebook budget.

I know that Random House is your publisher, and you never want to bite the hand that feeds you. But you are also a champion of libraries, and this is a battle that we are currently fighting.  Even halfway through this letter, I am not sure of my intentions. Ideally, I would love for you to come to our aide - this is a fight that is going to depend on the participation of librarians, readers and authors alike. But I know that defying your publisher in anyway is a dangerous move. I guess I would just like you to be aware of the predicament that we are in. I hope through the technological advancements of retweeting and reposting you might see this letter (I did mail this letter to you through you publisher, but I’ll be surprised if it gets to you...).

Thank you. For all that you already have done. In the past forty years you have influenced American culture and inspired many librarians (including this one) to fight the good fight. Whether or not this letter has an effect, know that you are still a hero. And the battle rages on....


J. Turner Masland

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