Cosh The Writer: Punk Book in Institutional Smash and Grab.
Above Photo: Trinity College Library, Dublin (Teresa Ivory)
I was surprised a while back to receive a threatening letter from a group of well-connected enforcers demanding five free copies of my 1980s Punk and New Wave Memoir, Bombed Out!
More worrying was that this shakedown won’t be the end of it. Another member of the mob will soon be demanding yet more freebies.
Who were the perpetrators behind this ruthless scam?
The five Legal Deposit libraries of Great Britain, namely the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, Cambridge University Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and Trinity College, Dublin, that’s who.
They also told me someone else, the British Library, will shortly be turning up with their hands out for untold copies.
What’s a poor writer to do? Faced with printing costs and postage from Thailand, that’s like writing “Dear Pete – please send us well over a hundred quid, initially…”
Whilst flattered by the International Institutional clamour to stock my humble offering, I do, of course, realize this is a standard letter sent to all publishers of printed works in the UK, and I’m actually pleased that the book will be in these places for posterity, along with some strange bedfellows, such as a copy of the 1455 Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare’s First Foilo, dating from 1623, in the Bodleian Library, for a start.
Similary it’s nice to know Bombed Out! will be rubbing (or roughing up) shoulders with the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, which dates from the 5th Century, in the Cambridge University Library.
That said, if anyone ever reads Bombed Out! in these libraries, I suspect it will be unceremoniously dumped on a top shelf, out of reach of the sensitive souls who normally inhabit these august institutions, as the amount of swearing and grit in it might have them quivering.
And there is further irony in all this.
One of these five libraries is actually depicted in an image on the back of Bombed Out!
On a more serious library note, given the important part public lending libraries in the UK play in Bombed Out!, I donated free copies to the two Liverpool libraries specifically mentioned in the book, without whose warmth, quietness and resources, the events chronicled in the book would have turned out very differently.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php