26 October 2008

Will books survive?

 Quote of the day:
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
- Sir Richard Steele

961514_50_years_old____2My family and I went to our local shopping centre this morning to perform our monthly grocery shopping. My daughter and I normally stop off at the bookshop as a little treat after the torture, generally just to browse, but often we do buy at least one book.

This morning, the doors were closed and bound by thick chains. There were several notices stuck on the glass doors, mostly on bank letter heads, with print so small I had to touch my nose to the glass to read it. It would seem our local bookshop has been closed down.

Immediately, my daughter and I started contemplating the meaning of this in our lives. We are both rather fond of reading, and we both prefer buying new books to second hand books. Of course there are other book shops we can buy from – and do buy from – but how long before they start closing their doors?

But then, last night I collected my copy of Eclipse from Exclusive Books in Sandton City that my lovely friend Missus Emm bought for me, and the store was full of customers and most of them bought more than one book. Granted, most of them appeared to have a preference for non-fiction and biographies, but at least they were buying books. But Exclusive Books is a chain, similar to, I would guess, Borders or Barnes and Noble, and have the ability to weather these storms better than the smaller chains and independents do.

There have been a number of blogs recently talking about a slow-down in the publishing industry, and even agencies closing down. It is a fact that the world economy is in crisis, so it is no surprise that it has affected this industry too – especially because books are often seen as luxury items in lower income groups (at least locally, this is the case). Of course, as a writer, it is a big concern, because the immediate thought is ‘will I be able to sell my book?’. It is not going to stop me from writing, but it may prompt me (and I am sure others) to reconsider e-publishing and self-publishing.

1 comment:

Emm said...

I asked for it to go to Eastgate - why did they make you trek out to Sandton City??? Sorry about that loveliness. I hope you enjoy it.
It will be sad day indeed when bookstores start closing down. I thought I was doing a good thing by using the library (as the sheer presence of a library encourages young people to read) but maybe I need to start buying books again. I could get the Power of Five series by Horowitz and Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series and Meyer's books and then I could start browsing. Good lord - that is 11 books. Ste would murder me - not for buying them but because he wouldn't know where to put them!

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