Today, I finalised the distribution of one of my new books through the worldwide distributor Nielsen, so that it can be purchased in bricks and mortar bookshops. An exciting moment every time. I’m a huge fan of book shops. I have been since I was a small child. In fact, I used to get so excited by being in them that we’d no sooner arrive than my parents had to locate a toilet for me because I got a bit too overwhelmed by all those delicious books and had to cross my legs! I’ve grown of that now, thankfully…
Why do I love book shops? Well, there’s the quiet tranquility of the browsing process. Space just to contemplate the covers that attract you most and then read the back blurb to see if the pages themselves merit further investigation. And the scent and feel of freshly (or conversely, extremely aged) printed paper. Plus the ability to escape into other worlds for just a few moments, taking some respite from the big wide one outside of the shop’s front door (my favourite version of which tends to have a little bell that rings on opening and closing!) And then there’s the knowledge and expertise of those who work in book shops. Their recommendations on what’s good, and what’s not. You don’t generally find anyone but true book lovers behind the counter. Many of them dedicate their life to books, and only books. They deserve to be able to make a living from them. It’s an experience that I like to think all of the children in my life will get to have as they grow up. It’s so very unique.
Today, however, I also got a rude awakening, once again, to the way in which traditional book shops are now fighting to survive in the face of online equivalents. Owing to the quantity of a book’s retail price that is held back by book shops – because of course they have to lease or purchase premises, pay rates, employ staff and so on – I have had to price one of my books at almost twice the price it retails for in stores like Amazon, which operate purely online. £25.99 versus £14.99 to be exact. I didn’t want to do this. And in fact, I’ve done it knowing that as a result, after printing costs, I’ll make but a few pence from each book sale. Yet to price it any higher would risk making it inaccessible to the majority of readers. So sometimes, you have to act on principle. In the new world we’re all creating together (and which my book just happens to have as its title), social impact prevails over profit. If there is a way for more people to access what I write – which is designed to entertain, educate and provide words for both comfort and contemplation – then more access I want to provide. Money doesn’t come in to it. Helping to maintain those things in the world which provide me and many others with beauty, sanctuary and uplift feels more important now than ever.
So, should you be a fan of book shops, and should you want to keep on supporting them (and I very much hope you will), then know that there are many authors out there offering their art up via this route, not because they will get the recompense commensurate with their creative work, but simply because they value the very existence of book shops themselves.
Note to reader: If you fancy a signed copy of ‘A New World’, they’re still just £14.99 P&P included. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.