Why Buy Local Books

You would think that buying New Mexico books in New Mexico would be a no brainer. It isn’t, but not for the reason you think.

The public buys New Mexico books of all kinds – they love them. But New Mexico government and schools don’t buy New Mexico books as a rule.

Some libraries like the Santa Fe Public Library love New Mexico books and they buy them. Granted their funds to buy books has been cut back but they want New Mexico books in their three locations. The Rio Rancho Public Library has said they are not very interested in New Mexico books or Rio Rancho authored books.

Let’s go back to New Mexico government agencies not buying New Mexico books. Aren’t they the folks that tout BUY LOCAL? Yes they are but BUY LOCAL doesn’t apply to local books for some reason. Two-faced? Yes indeed. The sad thing is our Governor could be getting big headlines for BUYING LOCAL BOOKS but I guess she doesn’t care now that she won’t be VP or in her last years as Governor.

Case in point. The New Mexico Public Education Department has bought about $200,000 books a year, for five years, for the Governor’s First Grade Reading Initiative. Great program! NMPED gives first graders a free book to read as their very own. They have spent over $1M for five years and yet, New Mexico books ONLY were bought for about 1/5 of that or about $200,000. What gives – did New Mexico publishers not bid some of the years? New Mexico publishers bid for all five years and they were a low bid or lower than the books selected from other states. For two years, not a single New Mexico book was purchased.

So, New Mexico PED thinks books from other states are better than New Mexico books? Last year, books were bought from Arizona, South Carolina, and New York. Books from New Mexico written by Rudolfo Anaya, Slim Randles, Ross VanDusen, and Nasario Garcia – all award-winners – are not better than no name authors in other states?

It is beyond me why New Mexico PED does this. New Mexico tax money is used to buy books from other states and those states do not buy New Mexico books. Aren’t we proud of our New Mexico authors and traditions? Or is this a case of New Mexico PED going crazy with our money – not theirs?

Book authors and publishers in New Mexico need to be pissed off. This is an indication of how New Mexico government agencies’ feel about our books. We are not second-class to anyone!

Barbe Awalt