When I publish my book "Please eat... a mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia" next week, I am publishing it to help other families realise that they are not alone in their fight to free their teenage son or daughter from this devastating and potentially lethal illness. I am not publishing it so six copies of it can sit, unopened and unread, stacked in dusty vaults of the six Legal Deposit Libraries in Great Britain and Ireland.
Also, I have promised to donate the first 10 royalties of "Please eat... a mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia" to eating disorder charities. After that, any royalties will be used to refund my expenses. Publishing a book isn't cheap! In other words, I am not going to get rich from this. I probably won't make any money at all.
But that's not why I've written it.
I have written it purely and simply to help other families.
Yet here I am, having to dip into approx £50 of my initial royalties, maybe even more depending on postage, to mail six copies of my book to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries for them to distribute to the dusty vaults of the Bodleian Library Oxford University, The Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and Trinity College Dublin, as required by law and the official letter they mailed to me yesterday.
In addition I am required to send a copy to the British Library. Again, at my own expense.
So that's six books in total, purchased and mailed at my expense so they can sit, unopened, unread and unloved in six dusty vaults until they rot.
And this, in an age where everyone is being encouraged to go digital. The "paperless society".
An age where you can set up a secure facility built to withstand every disaster known to man to store and provide essential back-up storage for vital documents and data in digital format. And back it up at several other facilities "just in case".
So, unless a meteor hits the earth and destroys it completely, your electronic data will still remain intact somewhere.
Yet, in an age where all of this is possible and where it's getting even more possible and secure by the day, we writers are still required - by law - to send a box of our printed books to these libraries.
Not lending libraries where readers can actually benefit from the words in these books. But library vaults where they will remain ignored and unloved.
I don't mind the fact that publishing my book ""Please eat... a mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia" hasn't been a cheap exercise what with ISBNs to purchase, umpteen printed proofs to send off for, websites to set up and all the other expenses that are involved, not to mention my time. I don't mind that at all, because - ultimately - I have written this book to help other families. In the same way I've been writing this blog for two years.
But what I do object to is adding to my expenses, probably by £50 or more, to do this pointless exercise, along with tens of thousands of other writers who are doing the same. Filling up massive buildings that take up valuable space on our all-too-tiny island. And which are, no doubt, funded by the taxpayer.
Okay I can understand if it's Jane Austin's original hand-written work. Or the Magna Carta. But, these days, with the advent of self-publishing and print on demand, there are so many books being published - some good, some not so good, some pretty dreadful I imagine.
And yet all are required, by law, to be deposited at these six libraries until they rot.
It is completely pointless. On so many, many counts.
And it makes me mad.