Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Democratic Right of the Public to Access All Books

Self-published authors have yet to gain a voice on the pages of The New York Times. On behalf of The, I tried responding to articles in the business section, reports dealing with publishing, libraries and Author's Guild, even an Op-Ed essay -- all met by an automated reply and then -- silence.

True to the pattern self-published authors are used to, I am accumulating rejections, by now a badge of distinction from publishers of books and newspapers. As traditional publishing slowly drowns in its own blindness, unable to see or adapt to new and coming trends, the sun will eventually shine on the growing tribe of self-published authors and their representatives.

Here is my latest one:

To The Editor:

Re: “E-Books and Democracy” (Op-Ed, May 1):

How interesting that the illustration above the article about libraries and publishers is of a library card for a self-published classic that for a long time wasn’t accepted by either of them: James Joyce’s Ulysses.

In the article, the President of The New York Public Library, Anthony W. Marx rightly advocates public access to all books, including e-Books, which publishers are trying to restrict.

“The challenge,” he concludes, “is to ensure that the information revolution provides more, not less access for the public . . .”

That advocacy, however, is extended to only part of available literature.  It doesn’t include self-published authors, who are still shunned by both publishers (who, out of  economic consideration, are not taking risks on new talent) and libraries -- only because the publishers didn’t even look at them. These are indefensible reasons for withholding the public’s right of access to all books, not just those with the arbitrary publishers’ imprimatur.

The majority of books today are self-published, as in their day were so many of today’s classics. We are advocating that libraries open their doors to all books, not just those advertised by publishers. Readers are adults who should be allow to judge books for themselves. To be truly democratic, they should showcase all books, and at least those ”Well Written, Well Edited, Unknown (self-published) Books” which our organization of peers evaluates for free, before issuing some of them a Seal of Good Writing, without any financial gain or personal bias. The catalog is available for $8 from Amazon, and can be downloaded for free at

Jasha M. Levi
President, The

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