About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Ethicist


Excerpted below, from the NY Times Magazine for Sunday June 14.  This is the first issue with a smaller trim size as the Times continues to try and cut costs in non-journalism areas.  

I've flown to Europe many times, and never been recognized by a flight attendant.


Signature Act

I am a flight attendant. I was working a flight from Europe when I recognized Michael Connelly, my favorite author, on board. I told him I was reading his novel “Brass Verdict,” and he kindly offered to autograph it. The catch: it is a library book. Must I return the signed book to the library, or can I replace it with a new copy in a suitable jacket? J. T., ST. SIMONS, GA.

You may keep your trophy if you follow the procedure you propose and meet any other costs of retrofitting the replacement for library use. As a general matter, a library should not be regarded as an ad hoc bookstore, but on those rare occasions when you need a particular book at 35,000 feet for so glamorous an encounter, there’s no harm in it. (I’d act similarly if I met the ghost of Jane Austen on the D.C. shuttle.) I am a bit disconcerted by Connelly’s writing in a library book, knowingly or unknowingly, but whether he defaced or embellished it is something for literary critics to adjudicate.

UPDATE: J. T. bought a new copy and a heavy-duty clear plastic cover, but the original cover was affixed too firmly for her to remove. She threw herself on the mercy of a librarian, who told her, “Don’t do it again,” helped her install the new cover and let her keep the autographed copy. No charge.


Bryce's Ramblings said...

Actually, you might be surprised at the number of people who view their library as an "ad hoc bookstore," particularly for titles that are harder to get. People come, check out a book, then "lose" it and just offer to pay the price of the book. What's more irritating is when people ask ahead of time how much a book cost, so that they know how much they'll have to pay to replace it. And the most irritating are the people who ask how much a book cost and then compare it to the going eBay rate to see if they can make a profit off the book.

As a librarian, I'd say that any writing in a library book is wrong. It's not your book, and the library isn't a Rent-a-Center. But maybe that's just me.

Maria said...

Shoot, our library would have charged the cover price, plus a 7 to 10 dollar fee to replace the book (No, you cannot buy the replacement--you pay the cover price, plus the fee, whether it's audio, hardback, softcover, whatever. No exceptions so patrons can't go find a "cheap" replacement.)

In our library, you best not even tell the story. Just pay the fee and keep the book if it comes to that.