Saturday, March 04, 2006
What is it about books? Many people read them. Many people buy them, but making money selling them is at best a pretty challenging task. A glance at a recent Britblog page, books are the third most popular of members’ interests and writing is sixth. You’d think selling the things would be a doddle. But perhaps the main problem is that probably out of all those who read regularly, none would agree absolutely about favourite authors. Some of the top names – yes. And even someone you think has the same tastes as you can suddenly hit a wrong note and you’re left thinking What did she see in that? Book reading is probably even more of a matter of personal taste than music. Even re-reading the same book twice and you may get more out of it, you may find it fails to chime in that way that made you feel the author was speaking directly to you. And for all the talk about what makes a good book, page turners like Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown still outsell books that have got far more to say and say it better. Is it possible in a small bookshop to have a stock that still takes the serious browsers by surprise, yet still caters for those who want to drop in, buy the latest Ian Rankin and won’t call again for another year?