Tag Archives: Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut on Freebies.

vonnegutFebruary 10, 1983
[To the Indiana State Library]

I am in receipt of a letter from your research librarian…, which tells me that your institution is no longer able to buy books. She asks that I give the State of Indiana a copy of my latest novel, Deadeye Dick. I have complied with this request.

Since books are to libraries what asphalt is to highway departments, I assume that Indiana is also asking donations from suppliers of asphalt for her roads. Or has it been decided that asphalt is worth good money, and that books are not?

It may be that whoever told [her] to write that letter supposed that I myself get all the books I want for free. I in fact must pay for them what bookstores pay. So what I have sent you represents an actual outlay of about $7.00, plus postage and the price of a bookbag, plus a fair amount of my time, which may indeed be worthless. Let us forget the time. Are all of Indiana’s suppliers of goods making equivalent sacrifices? Or are they to be more respected than I am for the way they make their livings? Are they more manly, more practical, less decorative?

If you have a cost accountant, he can easily prove to you that [her] letter to me cost far more than one copy of Deadeye Dick. If you reply to this letter, and you discuss its contents with others on State time, the cost to the taxpayers will soon exceed the retail price of my collected works bound in the finest leather.

 

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