No time to stand and stare
I read on my WordPress friend, Colonialist’s blog that his local independent bookshop – by all accounts a vibrant place – is closing. (Read article here.)
This saddens me. I do not like to see a closed bookshop. It makes me feel I am having a conversation with Susan of Narnia fame, who grew up and stopped believing Aslan was real.
As a little girl, I lived amongst books. Literally. My parents lost me, I’d be sitting in the book section, awash with books.
In the days before kindle, part of my Saturday routine was a stop at the second hand book stalls in the market; a mouch around the library; then a visit to the bookstores themselves.
As a voracious reader, I got books whereever i found them. Some I recycled back into the community. Others I hoarded for sentimental reasons. But over time, I found myself moving to electronic books.
For purely selfish reasons I may add.
I can read 10+ books a month. Sometimes at the rate of one a night. That’s the potential of 120 to 360 books a year. I do not own a big enough home to house them. Then let’s factor in costs. 120 books at £10+ a throw is a sizeable chunk of an income. A kindle book at £1.99 to £3.99 feeds an addiction more cheaply.
If I cannot sleep, I will buy a book and read it. You cannot buy a paper book at 1am.
To this let us add a strangely rational argument for kindle. I live with cats. Cats who – for reasons best known to themselves – see piles of books as rubbish, which need to be sprayed. Only a fool leaves an unattended book at chez moi. My phone rarely leaves my side. It lives on a shelf above bottom height. It is not paper. It is a safe place to hide a book.
Then let’s factor in OH. He reads. He blames me for bringing him to this passtime. For prior to me, he did not read. But he does not read books. He reads manuals and articles. He does not go to a bookshop. He goes on line. As do I when researching. He does not make a beeline for a bookshop. He does not understand the pleasure to be gained from the feel and smell of a book. And so because he does not understand the pleasure, I do not indulge my addiction as much. Like an alcoholic, I hide my books.
I am, I realise, a huge part of the problem I rail at. I am – at once – Dylan Thomas and his father. Like a child, I rage at the parent mefor not standing up to the encroaching darkness. But perversely I am the parent urged to rage… who does not; will not …
My father, a God loving man, would remind me to take the mote out of my own eye before berating others for their faults. He is correct. Whilst words fail me and tears well as another book shop closes, I have to hang my head in shame.
I am part of the problem. And as a book lover, I must rectify it… before the bookshop becomes extinct… and I am both Susan, and the adult who should have railed in the summer – not the winter – of her days.
Thank you for the mention.
I can relate to all you say. What is the answer, though? The convenience of e-books cannot be denied, although logic tells me that in relation to the costs of books that can be ordered online and delivered to doorstep they are overpriced. To my mind the costs of maintaining a database, payment system, and link provision must be infinitely less than those of having a printing facility. Even allowing for the author/s to have a fair return for their labours, I would have thought that there is a point at which smaller prices would lead to increased sales more than enough to come out better off at the end.
Libraries used to be a standby, and also good buyers of new books. Locally, those are also going into decline. They no longer want my novels, and their stocks are becoming increasingly out-of-date and moth-eaten.
I really don’t know, is the honest answer. I agree that ebooks are grossly overpriced. I would love to see the length of time an ebook can be discounted be longer. Especially as that would allow small publishing firms to entice readers to their entire portfolio. I think the almighty dollar rather than booksales leading to more dollars, is driving things. Alas
Alas, indeed. I do think that reduced prices would encourage readers to be less hesitant and conservative in their selections, and to experiment with new authors to a greater degree.