Toronto Public Library Ends Used-Book Purchase Program

Writers' Union
Press Release

Toronto Public Library Ends Used-Book Purchase Program

TWUC presents author concerns to the TPL Board

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is very pleased to report that, after consultation with TWUC and letters of concern from individual authors and publishers, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) has cancelled its highly controversial Sell Books to the Library Program.

The Sell Books to the Library Program was launched in December 2014. The TPL intended to supplement its main collection by purchasing used copies of high-demand books directly from the public, purchases that would result in no royalty flowing to the author. According to TPL reports, the program was created as a cost-management initiative.

TWUC sent an immediate letter to the TPL Board from Chair Harry Thurston, outlining author objections to the program. The program also came in for considerable criticism from the writing and publishing community at large. Author Noah Richler wrote about the program in the Toronto Star, and author David Bezmozgis, whose book The Betrayers appears on the TPL list of high-demand titles, also penned a letter to the library board, as did House of Anansi Press.

After consulting with both TPL management and the TPL Workers’ Union about the program, TWUC was invited to present to the TPL Board at their monthly meeting last evening. The TPL Workers’ Union and TPL management also submitted reports on the first three months of the program.

“I spoke to the board about the delicate ecosystem of the writing and publishing sector, and the critical importance to authors of realizing first-time sales revenue from high-demand titles,” said Degen. “We were given a very respectful hearing.”

After a brief discussion following the TWUC presentation, a motion was introduced to cancel the program. The motion carried.

TWUC will continue to work closely with library boards, management and staff across the country to build strong and mutually beneficial partnerships.  TWUC currently administers the National Public Readings Program (with funding support from the Canada Council for the Arts), which pays authors to read from their work in public libraries and other venues across the country.

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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.

For additional information:
Harry Thurston, Chair
John Degen, Executive Director                                                       
416.703.8982 Ext. 221