Celebrated authors have condemned Birmingham library service after it revealed it would no longer buy new books - relying on public donations instead.
The stark situation was exposed by a library leaflet entitled "Books required!" asking for books and newspapers.
The move prompted a quick reaction by Stourbridge-born author SJ Watson, who wrote Before I Go to Sleep, which was turned into a film staring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.
He said he was saddened and angered by the admission.
The sorry revelation comes less than two years after the blaze of publicity surrounding the opening of the landmark £189 million Library of Birmingham.
But Birmingham City Council claimed it had to make "hard choices" to keep community libraries open amid a cut in funding from the Government.
Mr Watson told the Post the city would pay a heavy price.
He said it was the libraries of the Midlands which fired his passion for literature and feared today's youngsters would not get that opportunity.
"The library nurtured my imagination, it was where I learned about the world, at least as important as school," he said.
"Those five books a week made me the person I am today. Libraries are a lifeline and an escape route, for everyone, and particularly important for those families who cannot afford to buy books.
"The news spending cuts have resulted in shortened opening hours for libraries and have now reduced Birmingham libraries to having to beg for books saddens me hugely and angers me.
"This devaluing of such a vital resource for our communities is short-sighted and ugly and I'm worry for the future of our culture and our arts. Books, and the ideas within them, should be available to everyone."
The setback for the service follows something of a turnaround in recent weeks.
The Library of Birmingham, which costs the council about £22 million a year, is currently open only 40 hours a week, including six hours at weekends, as a result of cutbacks which saw 100 staff made redundant.
However, Coun Penny Holbrook, council cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, announced a series of deals in recent weeks which had promised a brighter future.
A tie-in with the British Library and a deal with Google to host a digital training base at the venue were followed by news that the Brasshouse Language Centre would relocate there - meaning the doors would open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays.
But the funding climate remains tough - not least because the Library of Birmingham costs close to £1 million a month in interest repayments alone - and last week it was announced the tourist information centre would close.
Coun Holbrook (Lab Stockland Green) confirmed there was a "pause on the book fund" and that a "‘few libraries" were seeking donations.
She said: "Councils across the country are having to make hard choices about what can be afforded and we simply cannot continue to do everything and fund everything we historically have.
"We are continuing to look at how we secure the future of all our community libraries but whilst that work is under way we need to make tough choices to save money. One of those choices is a pause on the book fund."
She added: "Whilst we have not corporately asked for donations from the public and this is the actions of a few libraries, we do of course welcome any support the public wish to give our community libraries and the council in general, however we do not expect the public to make up for cuts to the budget from the Government."
Many library users and other authors took to social media to express their anger at the news.
Award-winning writer Jonathan Coe, author of What a Carve Up!, tweeted: "The situation in Birmingham libraries is just going from bad to worse."
His sentiments were echoed by Twitter user Aaron, who wrote: "They also cut opening hours. It's pathetic."
But Coun Hollbrook added: "We have never had a situation where we have bought every book suggested to us and at the moment we need to examine all requests for new purchases on a case-by-case basis depending on demand.
"We have always made choices about which books to buy but clearly we need to be careful and buy those books that are most needed."