Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Furry Books in Public Libraries?

So I ended up brainstorming this when a comment was made in the guild slack about how “hard it is to get people to read furry writing to begin with”, which also made me recall the time I was sitting in the Minneapolis City Library and typing in the name of every single furry author I had met at a convention and coming up with exactly none of them. My local libraries here in the bottleneck of CA also carry exactly 0 furry authors, but I didn’t expect much out of them to begin with.

Anyways, I was curious what other members’ thoughts are on maybe trying to push furry writing into public libraries? I do understand that many furry writers do not make a living on their works as it is, but perhaps if we try for a big drive in Furry Book Month and donate a lot of our own collections to libraries, it might help in the slightest to get people interested in furry writing? Or perhaps, would the librarians find furry writing a little too “far fetched” to actually stock in their shelves? Personally, I haven’t met a librarian who would turn their nose up at free books, but I also understand that right now libraries within the United States are not doing so well and can’t always hold all the books at they want to hold.

But this is just a thought. I would love to hear others’ opinions, of course!

Libraries prefer hardcover books. Most books from furry publishers are trade paperbacks.

I am all for making Furry Writing more mainstream. The way I see it, if books like Redwall and Watership Down works, it really shouldn’t be a problem with other titles.

Here in Singapore, the only “Furry” book I could find is the 1st volume of Digger by Ursula Vernon. This copy was published by Sofawolf, but no other volumes were carried by the library. Perhaps Ursula’s stuff is on the shelf because she writes mainstream too, so here name does appear on whaterever databases libraries buy their books from.

However (I’m talking about libraries in general here), certain kinds of adult content that might be otherwise fine in human-human romances might be considered undesirable by the general public if walking, talking animal characters are involved. There seems to be a common consensus among the general populace that stories with animal characters are for “kids”. Whenever I tell people that I write about animal characters, I always get a “why do you write about animals, not humans”? This is also asked by members of a non-fandom critique website, too, by the way.

We believe we have to let Furry be more mainstream.

@Fred Patten – Ah, true. I didn’t think about the fact that libraries do prefer hardcovers whenever they can get them. I have seen a fair number of trade paperbacks in libraries, or the ones that are treated with wax over the covers first… Hey, furry publishers, how about small time runs of hardcover books?! Ha, anyways. It’s an obstacle, but I think as print books are in a weird limbo and some authors are opting out of hardcover editions of their books to begin with, it could be something that gets surmounted.

There is also the fact that a lot of libraries are opening up to ebook rentals as well, if you go through their programs and have a qualifying device. Once again, that brings into question “Furry authors already barely make a living as it is, so how much more are they willing to sacrifice”, which is not a call that I have any amount of preparation to make. But it’s a thought.

@MikasiWolf – Library readers almost ALMOST always buy books the moment that they get a chance, and libraries offer a great way to try a subject or author that you are unsure about. Or, at least, that’s always been my experience. So make furry writing more mainstream = make more people read it/know it exists = have more people buy books = profit? Or, you know, that’s where my mind is going with this.

Singapore?! Always super nice to have a non-US-centric perspective! Ursula is in fact a very popular kid’s author (To go back to my previous post, even in my “bottlenecked” town, I would sell her books frequently in the local Barnes and Noble) but Digger also got some mainstream attention, and won a Hugo award to boot! Unfortunately, no other furry works have gotten as close to my knowledge.

There is also the fact that, as you said, adult content with humans is okay, but animals gets weird for the public. This is where talking with librarians and probably building a reputation with them before a lot of us trying to dump furry books into their lap would maybe help with that? Furry-centric events at libraries would kind of be amazing in my opinion, and that way the books can get put in the right genre of the library rather than having to explain why an explicit furry book wouldn’t do well in the kid’s section next to Redwall…

We do need to believe! As someone who only joined the fandom recently after hanging on the edges, if I had never attended a convention I would probably still be unaware about the professional published furry fiction world, which makes me wonder how many more furries also aren’t aware of it, and how many more non-furries would be interested in reading about something. Talking animal books still are popular with a wide age range, furry books are really no different-- just maybe with a little more sex and blood. And there are also plenty of non-adult furry books that can appeal to this group as well (My first thought is Frane’s Summerhill, which also has a human character in it, and a good number of anthologies such as Gods with Fur).

In the UK, there’s Public Lending Right (PLR). Authors have to register, and then receive payments when their books are borrowed from libraries. Is that the case in the US?

That is awesome! But I have no idea if there’s anything like that here.

My hometown libraries both have copies of By Sword and Star that my mother donated, one shelved with fantasy and the other with YA, if I remember correctly. Libraries are generally going to be interested in works from local authors, so that’s one of the easiest ways to get in; I believe she just called and asked what the procedure was/who she needed to talk to, to donate them. (Don’t put them in the donation box at the library, since those books tend to just go to the library book sales.)

It’s been checked out twice in four years. Or checked out once and renewed. XD

I thought I remembered seeing something once that a book had to have a Library of Congress card catalog number to be added to a library’s collection, but that info must be either wrong or outdated, since I’ve read through a few different articles online about getting self-pubbed books into libraries and none of them have mentioned that. shrug

@ Huskyteer – That is a wonderful program, which the US has absolutely nothing comparable to, as far as I can dig up… Maybe we do and I just can’t find it? But it doesn’t seem to be the case, alas.

@Poetigress – Oh! You know, I didn’t even think about the “local author” angle for that. That would actually be a really good way to try to get more furry books in libraries. And then it can snow ball from there into author meetings and signings and all that… Hmm… Yes, that is a good idea. I’ll have to do research on the Library of Congress bit, but I am seeing the same articles about getting self-published books into libraries.

Loving the discussion so far too!

Not sure in the US, but in Singapore, there’s a similar concept. However, it seems its only for writers based in Singapore. You have to deposit three books for the library to “keep for posterity”( or something to that effect)

I used to wonder how an author benefits if people borrows their stuff instead of paying moolahs for it.

Another, complementary possibility–leave copies of furry books in whatever little free libraries (https://littlefreelibrary.org/) you come across.

Now, this is kind of a skewed topic here. Furry books do exist but in the children’s section. I can go to my library and 50% of the books could be considered furry. Many involving talking animals or transformation into animals. Now granted there may not be any anthro based characters there.

As for more grown up furry writing, there is some but it’s not marketed as “furry” it’s hidden into other genres of books as “furry” isn’t a ‘real’ genre at all.

Take a look at books that are there already and figure out those genres, thus leading to how furry snuck into mainstream.

Adding to what Fred mentioned - libraries love hardcover because it means the book will last longer from random acts of abuse - there’s also an advantage to being printed on acid-free paper, and there’s also a specific type of binding called “library binding”. It costs a little more for a book to be printed that way, but it adds resiliency.

If you’ve got a library willing to showcase local authors, go for it, but set up some credibility first. Local newspaper/community paper reviews or any trustworthy buzz. In the age of easy self-publishing, librarians can be a bit wary, especially if an author is trying to sneak in something ideological about social/political/religious topics. A library is usually happy to take donations but depending on budget the book could languish in storage. Best to ask a librarian in the library, and ask for them to be honest about the selection process, what raises flags. You’re looking for the person in charge of “Acquisitions”. Some librarians specialize in choosing the books for certain ages.

Some libraries have arrangements with large booksellers/wholesalers to provide them with bulk orders, but even then there’s some local tweaking and specialized orders. School libraries are another venue, but I don’t know about their selection process.

If there’s a popular online blog that caters to reviews of interesting new books in a particular genre like science-fiction or fantasy - there’s a good bet that some librarians are lurking there. The more known a publisher, the better the chances. Heck, if you can get a book mentioned in places like Kirkus or Library Journal, you’re on a roll. Also keep in mind that knowing the target audience is key - If it’s for children or young adults, give a specific age range, and market appropriately.

Some related discussions:


I think a library will shelf a furry book so long as it’s not too lewd. That being said, make sure they don’t accidentally consider it a children’s book.

That actually opens up the question if furry would be considered Young Adult fiction or in the more General genre if it were to be shelved.

That would depend on the genre of the individual book. There are a few fandom-published books which would fit in YA perfectly, but others are for an adult audience. I mean that in the trade sense, not just erotica.