Ramblings of a bookworm
From an early age I have been reading, in fact you would do well to catch me without a book in reach. For years it was paperbacks, often second hand, as I got a bit older I started to treat myself to hardbacks so as I could read my favourite authors as soon as they were published. Now it’s all about the download, I have dozens of books on my Kindle and a few on my iPad from the Apple Store.
It is this new download age that has got me asking questions.
As an avid reader I spend a lot of time browsing bookshelves, whether they are in indie bookshops, Supermarkets, or the big chains such as Waterstones. Why am I not finding print books on the shelves I know are available online?
At first I thought it might be a geographic thing. Some of the writers I’ve found online are from other country’s and maybe they haven’t found a market in the UK. Then I started finding really good UK authors I’d never heard of. Mari Hannah is a writer based in the northeast, she has written the best Police procedural thrillers I have ever read. Can I find her books on the shelves in the Midlands?Only in the biggest of the big bookshops, and only if I had already heard of her and knew where to look. There are more big displays for the latest John Grisham or Stephen King, in fact a recent trip to my local Waterstones found no UK writers books on their main display table.
So maybe it is a more localised geographical issue. Maybe you have to be a really local author to get into your local shops. No, there is another excellent writer Angela Marsons who is hot on Mari’s heels as, in my opinion, the top Police Procedural writer at the moment. She sets her books in my local town in the Black Country, she lives and works close to the same area, the only place I have ever seen her books are on Amazon. She even mentions one big supermarket in her books, they have a big book section, I look through it every Sunday when I go shopping. Have I ever seen one of her books in there? No.
So why are the bookshops not carrying these books. Is it because it’s easy to sell the big names?, or maybe the publishers are not out there pushing them enough. I know the writers are tireless in the promotion of their own books. There is hardly a week go by when they are not at a literary festival. Twitter is awash with them retweeting reviews, all online.
I write reviews on this blog. I’m lucky enough to get pre-published books to do early reviews, and yes it is online so people who read it use computers, tablets or smart phones to read it. But many people have not yet crossed over to e-readers. Recent figures have shown that the figures for ebooks are falling whilst the figures for actual books are back on the rise. I get dozens of people contacting me when I give a book a good review on, or after publishing day, asking me where they can get a copy because “they’ve looked everywhere and couldn’t find a copy”
I know the next generations first port of call for most shopping these days, especially books, is Amazon. They are missing out on touring around bookshops reading the backs and inside the cover. They are missing the adventure of popping into a shop to find something to read and losing a couple of hours of their lives as they get carried away browsing the shelves.
Don’t get me wrong I love Amazon, I like the way it gives me suggestions based on what I’ve previously purchased, but it’s not as good as the conversations I have with the people who work in bookshops. I know I have found some fantastic writers, who’ve given me some fantastic stories and characters, but I wonder how many other people have missed out by just not living in the right part of the country.