Here’s the future of the Library of Congress!
Normally, finding your book on a university reading list or course outline can be the fulfilment of an author’s fondest hopes: It means that scholars take your work so seriously they want to pass it on to the next generation.
And it can mean a big increase in book sales, directly to students or to university libraries.At Montreal’s Concordia University, however, those hopes turned to bitter disillusionment this week when poets realized that the Centre for Expanded Poetics had been scanning their books and posting them to its web page without their permission.
“I find it distressing,” said Alana Wilcox, editorial director at Toronto’s Coach House Books, the publisher of two of the books. “Poets make so little money … making their work available for free on a public website feels very disrespectful. … These aren’t tenured professors with salaries; these are poets who are scraping by, getting no compensation for their hard work.”As well as works by Coach House poets Damian Rogers and Jeramy Dodds, the page for the centre’s contemporary poetry reading group featured high-quality reproductions of entire books by such high-profile Canadian writers as Governor-General’s Award winner Dionne Brand and nominee Lisa Robertson, and international poetry superstar Anne Carson, as well as leading U.S. poets including Claudia Rankine, Ariana Reines and Maggie Nelson.
The books, most of which would retail for less than $20, were available to download free to anybody who clicked on a link. Apparently, centre director Nathan Brown has been running books through a sophisticated scanner to produce copies: a picture on the reading group’s Facebook page in January shows him working on a Atiz brand book scanner of a type that costs at least $10,000.