It seems that a call has gone out asking authors to do more to help out independent bookshops throughout the streets of Britain.
The suggestion being that your name (if you’re considered famous enough) will bring custom to the bookshop whilst copies of your book will be bought. It sounds like a win-win situation.
However, there are a couple of issues with this;
1) Authors are generally quiet, timid people who would probably prefer to spend that time at the keyboard writing rather than sitting at a desk in a bookshop.
2) In Britain, many of us are a quite-reserved bunch and often our reaction to someone famous isn’t to go and talk to them. No, we point to them, hang around near them, and then tell our friends later that night who we ‘met’.
I know this is certainly the case for me because that’s what I did when I was in Preston a couple of years ago.
Waterstones has a nice sci-fi / fantasy section that I happen to frequent most times I visit. On this particular occasion I found myself face-to-face with a chap in a long, (I mean loooooong) leather jacket sitting at a desk with a pile of books in front of him. He had that ‘author’ look (you know what I mean), and I assumed his name from the spines of the books (he will remain anonymous). He had no-one around him and an expression on his face that suggested desperation with a hint of boredom.
Did I ask him about his books? No
Instead, I watched him over the tops of a few books for around twenty minutes whilst he entertained ONE interested customer. After some discussion about the story (I wasn’t close enough to get details), he managed to sell one of his copies.
Did I buy his book? No
Now, the interesting part; I looked him up on the web later that night and found a blog update he’d done. As it turned out, he’d travelled up from London, spent the whole day in the bookstore and only managed to sell enough books to barely cover his pub-lunch, let alone his travel expenses.
Want the REALLY interesting part? A few months ago whilst snooping around a charity shop in Preston, I found the same book in hardback that had been SIGNED by him – was it one from that fateful day (he did write on his blog that he’d left some signed copies)??
Did I buy the book? No