There's something about having your book(s) in the library that makes an author feel legitimate. I confess that due to my status an unknown to the majority of the literary world, most libraries probably do not carry my books. Which makes it extra special when they do. Call numbers. Shelf space. Holds. Simply having your name in the library catalog as a searchable author is delight enough.
That said, it's a bit of an evolution of thought, the implications of having a book in the library. Because every reader who checks it out is one less reader who will buy it. For instance, if we rewind back to when I was announcing the release of this book and sending out invitations to the launch party, I was surprised by how many people responded to the news and the invitation by asking if the book was available in the library. As an author announcing that a book years in the making is finally out in the world and available, it's hard not to be a bit offended when people jump right to the "Can I read it without having to buy a copy?" stage. Because I'm going to tell you right now, if a friend or someone you know well has written a book, you should probably just buy it. I'm serious. Yet selling books in today's world remains incredibly difficult, even to the people in your own circle.
So, yes, as an author it can frustrate me, but as a reader, I understand. Almost all of the books I read are those that I've checked out from my local library, a habit I picked up as an unemployed student living in a 350-square-foot apartment in Manhattan. So I get it. I read first and buy later, and only those books that leave me feeling a particular combination of influenced and inspired. As I've always explained to people who ask about book selling, a book isn't like a piece of jewelry or art, something that you can see right away and know that you love. Buying books is such a crapshoot, so I get why readers hesitate, why they opt to rent books as opposed to buy them. Which is why I will always hope to be included in library catalogs. Because bottom line: I want my books to be read. So come and get it, San Diego!