I came off my motorbike about 2 weeks ago, mangled my knees and smashed my shoulder. The shoulder is getting there, but my knee…I can hardly walk!
Still, as I am off work, it has given me the chance to catch up on all sorts of business that required my attention.
Like web sites.
We are always told, as authors, that we need to establish a presence on the Web, build a web site, have a blog, develop social networking. I am now of the mind that I don’t believe much of that works. The only thing that generates much interest is this blog. Very few people so much as look at my posts on FaceBook. And as for book promotions, the best place to buy a book, for me, is still in a bookshop. It would be interesting to see how many of you agree.
I love book shops. I remember when I was a boy, every Saturday morning I would wander up to my local town-centre and go to the bookshop. It was called, conveniently, ‘BOOKLAND’ and I would spend hours just browsing through the titles. More often than not I would buy something. I always longed for a library of my own and my dad, who was amazing at making anything out of virtually nothing, built me a splendid bookcase. Empty shelves stared back out at me, and I knew it would be a long process to fill it up. But fill it I did.
Do you remember those adverts that graced the back covers of Sunday supplements, for ‘World Books’, or ‘The Literary Guild’? You could buy six hard-back books for about two pounds, and then you had to become a member and choose a book a month. I bought some amazing books from them. I still have most of them. ‘The Washing of the Spears’, ‘Trafalgar, the Nelson Touch’, and, of course ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’. Most of us must have that, I shouldn’t wonder, despite most of us never reading any of it!
Well, my library grew. I bought a wide range of books, mainly fiction but with plenty of history thrown in for good measure. I seem to recall I had a lot of John Creasy. No idea why. I doubt I ever read a single one, but I wanted to, so there they would stand and I would stand, and look, and feel my heart swell. My library. Wow.
Now, sadly, it is increasingly difficult to do all of that. Perhaps, in a generation, nobody will possess their own, private library. The age of the download is upon us, as well we all know. So where do we go to find our next book? Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads? There are a plethora of sites nowadays devoted to recommended reads. But none of them, sorry to say it, can replace the smell, the ambiance of a lovely bookshop. I still believe this is the best type of marketing. To see your title on a shelf in a bookshop…WOW! The joy of picking up books, flicking through the pages, reading the blurbs, being enticed by the covers…how can you beat that? And yet, when I asked my daughter, who lives on Merseyside, to find an independent bookshop that might be willing to stock my books, she couldn’t find ONE! NOT ONE! I couldn’t believe it.
So, imagine my joy when, last year when I went to Burgundy for a holiday, I visited a tiny little place and it had not one, but THREE bookshops! And what wonderful places they were. Small, cluttered, thousands of books piled up to the rafters together with greetings cards, wrapping paper, pens and pencils, etc. They even had a ‘foreign titles’ section. I was blown away. The French love their books, and they have a wonderful approach to their reading – they still buy REAL books! Those bookshops are flourishing whilst we, in the UK, allow our shops to die. It’s the same with everything, as we see from the news. Shops we have grown up with, disappearing one by one, unable to compete in the instant, sanitised world of internet shopping. Soon there will be none left. It’s all somewhat depressing.
I don’t know what will happen, and I am in no way decrying the rise of the digital book, but I rarely, if ever, go on sites to find a new read. I go to a bookshop. Here, where I live, in Spain, I would often go to the English Bookshop, and have a really good browse, more often than not picking up one of their ‘on offer’ titles (as new books are simply far too expensive now). Imagine my horror when, only last month, I went to choose a book and…The shop had gone. Disappeared. POOF! Yet another victim of the crisis…or, perhaps, the rise of the digital market?
Well, I mustn’t complain, because my own books are offered for sale on all the mobile devices. And for the moment THE STORY OF DON LUIS is FREE on Kindle. So, I mustn’t be too negative must I? No, I’ll leave that for something else.
In the final analyse, I don’t suppose any of it matters as long as people reads. That is the important thing. My school has recently purchased a stack of Kindles. Perhaps that is the way forward? If the by-product is that young people become excited about reading, then perhaps it really is a good thing. And they do seem excited when they pick up that slim machine. You can see them, their eyes glowing with expectation. It could even cause them to be more adventurous in their reading choices, to hunt out classics that they may otherwise have overlooked, for any number of reasons. Buying ‘War and Peace’ and feeling the weight of it in your hands is extremely daunting, but you don’t notice that on an E-reader. Big books, little books, it makes no difference to the machine itself. But if more people read because of that…then…Hallelujah!
You can visit my website which has details of my published books, where to get them (sadly, not in Bookshops) and of the FREE OFFER for Don Luis: www.stuartgyates.com.
And a friend of mine has dipped her toe into the publishing world, and written a very saucy book, loosely termed erotica! And that too is FREE. Seems to be a trend, and not a bad one at that. Give her book a try by visiting her website: www.gsstewart.moonfruit.com where you will find all the details. It is raunchy however, so be warned.
Thanks for reading!