So on with the rant…traditional bookshops, I can see why so many are going to the wall.
Though a convert of the e-reader, every now and then I crave to feel beneath my fingertips, the exquisite caress of ‘real paper’. I need to inhale the tart note of black print. I burn for the crisp sound of a page turning. And, cardinal sin though it might be, I have a fetish for the power inherent in breaking the spine of a book so the pages lie flat. (Also, given the amount I read, my eyes deserve a bloody good break from the harsh and inhuman glare of a screen.)
So into Bookshop No. 1 I wander, my heartbeat skipping at the sight of all the lovely books. I have a few holes to plug in my collections of Christine Feehan, J R Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon, not to mention the seventy quid burning a hole in my pocket. Could I find a single title by one of these writers? Could I hell! Frustrated and not a little perplexed, I approached the scarily intellectual looking sales assistant, fully resigned to look a right idiot. ‘You need to look under science-fiction’, she sneered. ‘And you need a little romance in your life’, I shot back. No way was she making any commission out of me. Snooty cow!
Feathers ruffled, I headed off for Bookshop No. 2 (yet another high street name). Reluctant to waste a minute scanning the wrong section, I enquire politely of the young sales assistant, a boy this time (barely older than a baby newt), under which section I might find my preferred authors. ‘Horror’, he said.
Science fiction? Horror? What on earth are people on when they categorize books? Do they even read (I’d settle for a quick flick-through) the books they carry on their shelves?
Romance is supposed to be the second most popular genre after Crime. Surely that merits an entire wall of shelving, helpfully sectioned into ‘Saga’, ‘Contemporary’, ‘Paranormal/Urban Fantasy’, ‘Historical’, ‘Suspense’ etc. But no, Romance is obviously the reserve of the aberrant and best diluted with a filing so obscure such books are destined for the shame of ‘returns’. (And don’t think I didn’t notice how the ‘Shades of Grey’ trilogy earned pride of place by the doors with their own neat little shelving display in both shops – I’m guessing Erotica or Soft Porn have some way to go before earning the privilege of a huge black and white sign to helpfully inform about content.)
So long story short, and with my blood pressure now only slightly raised, I’ll be sticking with Amazon in future, that big black cloud responsible supposedly for driving trade from the high street and ripping the heart out of our towns. They currently have over 210,000 romance titles unashamedly listed and most helpfully sectioned, across at least eight niche categories. Sheesh, I could probably read an entire book with the time I’ll save each week by not having to fathom the obscure labels pinned by the traditional retailers. And I’ll be saving money too!
Tantrum over! Until next time.
If you remain a staunch supporter of the traditional bookshop, please tell me why. I’d truly like to know.