Tyrus Books: An Appreciation

One of the free books I received from Tyrus

In a time when the economy is weak and many businesses are tightening their belts, Ben LeRoy, publisher of Tyrus Books, has been going in the opposite direction. He’s been giving free books to anyone who asks. He’d pick an hour or two out of a random day and announce on Twitter (follow here if you don’t already) that he’d take requests during that time for anything from Tyrus’s catalogue of dark crime fiction. If he has copies available (finished books, not ARCs), he’ll send them to you for free. Yes, that’s plural because you can ask for more than one.

Why is LeRoy doing this? He asks for nothing in return, no reviews, no please-tell-your-friends-about-us, nothing. A recent tweet said, “Just read. That’s all I care about.” That moved me deeply and is why I felt the need to write this.

There were no libraries in Vietnam during my childhood. I remember how I’d walk to a nearby store that rented books by asking customers for a deposit. If patrons returned the book in good condition, the store would refund their money, minus a small rental fee.

This may sound fair except I was a small child with no money of my own. I’d try to barter with the store owner—can I leave my shoes as collateral? How about my school bag? The shop owner would laugh at me but there were few things I wouldn’t have swapped for the chance to read.

More than 30 years and 10,000 miles removed, that feeling hasn’t changed. So, for me to get free books from Tyrus with no questions asked and no strings attached? It’s like receiving…I’m not sure I have the right words. Insert gold, money, food, water, life—whatever’s most precious to you—and you’ll get the idea. I don’t understand such generosity but I don’t have to. I can just be thankful there are people like LeRoy keeping literacy alive while allowing that long-ago girl to keep her shoes.



  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    November 3, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Bravo! (Yeah, you made my eyes water.)

    And have you seen Concord Free Press’s site? Small publishers are doing so much more than the big presses to get books into people’s hands and hearts.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Yes, it is amazing what so many small presses are doing to keep the love of reading alive. Kudos to all involved.

  • Reply
    Coffee and a Book Chick
    November 3, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Love this! What an incredible thing to do. And not to mention, your story is fantastic. I grew up overseas (born in the Philippines), but didn’t really experience the true wondrous world of libraries until coming to the States.

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    November 3, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Yes, Ben is a great guy like that. He deserves much thanks for both his generosity and the great books he ensures see print.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Kudos for both of you! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Duncan
    November 3, 2010 at 7:35 am

    You’re a wonderful writer, PCN. When will we see YOUR book?

  • Reply
    Sophie Littlefield
    November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I do adore that Ben LeRoy and Allison too. They sent me home from a conference once with a whole box of wonderful books. They are a class act for sure – and I’m a newcomer to Concord Free Press but they put out a beautiful, well-edited product and I’m passing my copy along with pride. Thanks, PCN! xo

  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 9:57 am

    As I’m sure anyone who’s had the good fortune to meet Ben will attest, he approaches life with this sort of open-armed generosity, not just his business. What a great and well deserved tribute. You’ve earned a new fan.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Wow. Tyrus Books is doing something really cool there. And thanks for the slice of your past, PCN.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      Don’t you just love her bartering skills?

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    November 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you all for commenting and sharing your own experiences with Ben and Tyrus Books. What Concord Free Press is doing is inspirational, too. It’s so wonderful to see these folks out there changing the face of publishing.

    Coffee and Book Chick—You know what I’m talking about, then. When I first encountered libraries here, I checked out a mountain of books and felt like a thief who had just robbed a bank.

    Elizabeth D.—I’m, uh, working on it. VERY slowly.

    Mags—Nice to “meet” you. I’m humbled by your fandom.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I cannot imagine not having the library as a little girl. AND the Bookmoblie! They were like treasure houses to me.
    Tyrus Books? Looking for the “like” button!

    • Reply
      November 4, 2010 at 7:11 am

      I’ll second that, Paulette…BIG “like” for Ben LeRoy and Tyrus Books!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    November 4, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Wow, how generous! And yes, libraries still astound me ~ all this for free? There are such wonderful treasures all around us.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

    This post of appreciation was such a breath of fresh air for me. (Especially with all the election BS all over the friggin place!) Too many cynics would blow Ben’s actions off as just a publicity stunt. Your post brings to light the genuine enthusiasm behind his actions. In turn, I think it’s good for the people on the business side to get such heartfelt feedback.

    IMHO, this post is a fine example of the kind and generous heart that you possess, Elyse. Thank you.

    • Reply
      November 4, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Oh yeah, another thing about this post? Pointed out, yet AGAIN, that I can’t hold out on joining the Twitter-verse for much longer. 😉

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    November 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Paulette—To this day, I’ve never encountered a bookmobile. Must rectify that!

    Shell—Yes, we’re surrounded by lots of treasures (my perfect cup of coffee just now was one) and I try not to take them for granted.

    Christine—You know you’d have instant followers if you join Twitter. Lauren, le0pard13, Jen, Reed, Sara and I are just a few I can think of from top of my head. Do it NOW!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Wow…what a wonderful and moving post! I saw the tweets from Tyrus Books the other day (and sent in a request I might add), but I had no idea about the thoughts behind it. Such powerful words in such a short sentence….and one any reader can certainly get behind.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      November 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks, Gina. Hope you enjoy your book as much as I’m enjoying mine!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I got that exact book from Tyrus Books. I was so excited, particularly as the book showed up SO quickly on an absolutely awful day.

    I haven’t had a chance to get started, but it really was such a pleasant surprise. I can’t wait to dig in.

    Beautiful post.

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