When I read about a librarian losing her job because she wrote a library story that hit a little too close to home, I was intrigued. I don't think the library had any grounds for dismissal (especially since the author clearly says the book is fiction), unless the librarian in question had made other offenses while working, wrote the book while at work, or signed a contract saying she would not write about her workplace, but it will make an interesting case, nonetheless. It's funny that no one in the book seems to be complaining about how they've been portrayed or that their rights were violated; perhaps they're afraid to step-up and admit who they are in the book?
What I will say about the book, without actually reading it (and having no intention of reading it), is it's more than likely garbage. How can I make this claim without even browsing through it? Easy: it's published by Publish America--in my opinion, they are one of the most shameful book producers (note I do not use the word publisher, because they don't really publish the book--they print them, and use POD technology to produce the book when (if?) someone actually buys it). They are just one notch higher than vanity presses, and, though they claim books will be available, I've heard of few (any?) actually being in stock anywhere but online. I've also read that they also are notorious for telling their writers they should use their own money to buy copies (FYI, a real publisher gives you copies...I got around 30 hardcovers of mine, and another dozen or so proof copies, and I never paid them a dime, nor did they expect me to).
Several people have done random experiments with the company. One group of sci-fi writers decided to write the worst book ever and submit it to the publisher to see if it was accepted: it was!
From what I understand, the company also doesn't really use editors; they, for the most part, publish the book as is, and hope the writer will buy the book. I've also heard (although I can't say with certainty) they ask writers to hand over email contacts so they can email everyone the writer knows and tell them to also buy the book.
So why do writers publish with them? Every writer gets to a point where they are desperate and will do anything to see their book published (I've been writing for over 15 years...trust me, I know). If the only place that accepts your book, however, is Publish America, then there's probably a reason--it's not ready. That's not to say you're not good enough to write, or that the topic is not interesting; you just haven't written something that's ready for publication. It's a sign that you should keep writing, and do whatever it takes to write something worthy of a real publisher--don't settle.
Do you think anyone will read your book if you publish it through Publish America? Maybe. But consider this--the library book is getting a lot of free attention, and it's not even listed on WorldCat. That's a pretty good indication that this book is not very popular. So now this lady, for now, has lost her job, the book will go largely unread, and, while Publish America's contract seems purposely vague, she will likely not even stand to make 500 bucks off the deal. Was it worth it? Sure people will use her name to promote free speech, but she'll be forgotten in a few months time.
The last time I check, no writing guild will accept a book published by Publish America as an actual publication credit. When I became a member of the Authors Guild a few years back, my only major publication credit was my dispatches on McSweeney's. When a blog counts as a bigger writing credit then a book publisher, that should tell you something about the book publisher.
I have nothing against people writing memoirs about libraries; there are plenty more stories to tell, and I hope more people tell them, and succeed. But do it with a real publisher. I'm sure most of you know that I'm not a fan of the other library memoir that came out last November (for the record I think he tried too hard to sound cranky, and did not try hard enough to show the true value of public libraries in the community), but at least he did it through a real publisher, and I respect him for that. So if any of you out there in cyber land want to tell your story, I hope you do so, and I hope you do it well...send me a draft and I'd be happy to help you along and help you write something that can find a real publisher.