BookHounds: When I went to London, I fell in love with the bookstores there. With globalization, do you feel that the bookstores are losing their niche?
Mary. Wow, what a question – and one that must be the number one topic among authors at the moment!
I’ve been writing romantic fiction for six years now and in that time, publishing has changed beyond recognition.
Right now, the scene is changing almost by the week.
I’d hate to see bookstores disappear. I love them. If you’ve been to London, I’m betting you went to the West End where there are some amazing specialist book shops. In fact, I’d had afternoon tea with my agent in Covent Garden earlier this year and she pointed me in the direction of a small side street rammed with book shops. Some knew her personally and one had hosted a signing for one of her authors.
They all specialized in a niche – such as hardbacks, travel, antiquarian, second hand etc.
There’s nothing nicer than coming across an unexpected bookshop in a small town crammed with interesting books, hand-picked by an owner who knows you by name. But that pleasure is becoming increasingly rare in Britain.
I think browsing a bookshop is an ‘experience’ that can never be replaced online, like shopping for a new outfit or decorative object for your home. There’s nothing like leafing through print, getting a recommendation for a new writer from knowledgeable staff or choosing a gift book for someone special.
And of course, you can’t hold a signing or meet authors personally in cyber space.
As an author, however, we have to reach out to readers in any and every way possible. Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing my books in stores but think this is a moment of huge opportunity for writers and booklovers.
The rise of e-books and online book retailers has meant that all my books are available and will never go ‘out of print’. Then there’s the chance for authors to upload their backlists onto e-sites.
Statistics are flying about all the time. Only last week I heard a report that said when people buy a Kindle they triple their book purchases thereafter. That has to be good news (just don’t start me on the subject of book piracy…)
The globalization of bookselling has given publishers the chance to reach a worldwide audience in a way that was once undreamed of.
I’m not a bookseller; I don’t know what the answer is to saving the book store beyond the old ‘use it or lose it’ adage. As writers and readers we need to keep on visiting bookstores for the main reason we love them: to enjoy a hands-on rather than virtual ‘experience’.
What do readers think? Do you still love getting books from the store or are you an on-line convert?
I would like to thank Phillipa for stopping by and don’t forget to read my review and enter to win your own copy of her latest: Wish You Were Here.