Thursday, 25 September 2008

Bookshops and Teenagers Anne Cassidy

In all the years that I've been going into bookshops I've only ever seen ONE teenager looking at books and going up to buy one. I've seen a variety of adults hovering around the teen bookshelves. I imagine these people to be parents/teachers/friends/interested professionals/other writers placing their books face out. None of them are teenagers.

I go into bookshops a lot. I go to see if my titles are there. I go to inspect covers and new books. I go to immerse myself in 'the business'. To feel, for a while, close to the point of sale where a young person - say a fourteen year old girl - might march in and head for the teen books.

I imagine her looking at the books displayed on the table, face up, in piles. She'll pause for a few moments but she'll be smart enough to know that there's good stuff on the shelves. She'll turn to them and look along. When she sees my books her eyebrows will raise slightly because there'll be a title there she hasn't read. Oh! she'll say, taking the book out and looking at the cover (Maybe it will be Careless or Forget me Not). She won't decide straight away but she'll hold the book in her hand while she moves along the shelves scanning the other titles. For one heart stopping moment I'll imagine her reaching for a book by another writer. She'll take it off the shelf and look at the cover and then read the blurb on the back. She might have to put my book under her arm or rest it on the shelf while she looks inside this new book (who's it by? Celia Rees? Mary Hooper? Catherine Johnson? Kevin Brooks?).

She'll have to decide. She'll pick up mine again and then it'll seem as though she's weighing them both up.

Which book will she go for?

She'll put them both back. She's only got six quid to last her till the weekend. She'll leave the shop empty handed.

Like I said I've only ever seen one teenager in a shop select and take a book up to the counter and pay for it.

And it wasn't even my book.


Anonymous said...

Oh! Why couldn't she have bought it... I'd have been sending "buy it! buy it! buy it" messages to her telepathically.

I bought Celia Rees's most recent book, because I wanted to see what she did with the Sovay ballad--but I haven't read it yet (annnd... I'm a far cry from a teenager)

My teenaged daughters do buy books, but mainly manga... though the younger one also has a penchant for unabridged classics (and then I get to read them too..)

Marie-Louise Jensen said...

In Bath at the weekends it can be quite hard to GET to the teenage shelves - and there are lots of young people as well as adults crowding round them. My teenager buys books...but he's a boy!

adele said...

I've been saying for more than 30 years that teenage books ought to be stocked in music shops like HMV. Or in clothes shops like Topshop. In Japan, apparently, teenagers get their reading matter sent straight to their mobiles and can manage to read whole novels on them. You need the youthful EYESIGHT for that. It sounds ghastly to me!

Sally Nicholls said...

Did I used to buy books as a teenager? I think I used to get most of my reading matter out of libraries or given as Christmas presents. I remember the rush of extravegant joy buying seven books to take on my gap year, but I think my mum bought them for me. Our local library is always packed with kids, though.

I was once in a lift in a bookshop with a small girl clutching a copy of my book. I poked my boyfriend excitedly and made surreptitious ecstatic 'My book! My book!' eyebrow motions to the child. He stared straight ahead in a 'If you reveal your secret author identity in a lift, I will melt into a small embarrassed pool of goo,' sort of way. So I didn't.

T'was very exciting, though.

Lee said...

Now you're beginning to understand why I offer my books for free - and somebody is taking them off the shelf, i.e. downloading them, quite often. If I could only figure out how to get an old age pension out of it all ...