A poet friend of mine recently told me that a bookshop considers you a ‘heavy book buyer’ if you buy six books a year. Now, I don’t know where she got that figure. Sorry. But, I’m just going to happily accept it as the truth for the purposes of this blog entry – if you know better, please let me know in the comments!
But SIX books a YEAR? I looked at my friend and thought of her house – where the books have to be stored two deep on the shelves – and my flat – where the gap between doors and walls, that is usually just dead space, is piled high with books. SIX books? I buy that many in a month, I thought!
And then, I wondered whether that was true. I READ six books a month, easily. But do I actually BUY them. And, if I do, who gets the money?
As a fairly unscientific survey, just out of curiosity, I found the last six book I had acquired and looked at their provenance.
They were as follows:
Breathing Underwater by Julia Green – bought from Waterstones
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera – borrowed from the library
Puppet Master by Joanne Owen – borrowed from the library
The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams – borrowed from the library
Tam of Tiffany’s by Dorothea Moore – bought from Amazon
Marketing your Book by Alison Baverstock – bought from Amazon
So, three library books.
Two bought online.
One bought from a high street chain.
So, even someone who scoffed at the idea of a mere six books a year (me) has only bought one from a real, actual shop recently. And that was a chain.
I felt a flutter of guilt. I know writers make more money when you buy their work in a shop. I know dedicated book buyers are the lifeblood of independent shops. And yet I haven’t bought a book in an independent shop in a long while.
This is partly because there isn’t an independent book shop in central Bristol (or even suburban Bristol as far as I know!) and partly because buying online is so easy (the library books are like buying online because I place a reservation online and get an email when the books I want are in).
What I need is an independent shop I can browse through online. Or for someone to set up an independent shop in Bristol (good people of Bath, come on, you’ve got loads of them, hand one over!)
But what I really need to do is to put my money where my mouth is and pay more attention to my buying habits from now on. There’s still a bit more space behind the bedroom door.
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