But books (and I mean real books) have played an important part throughout my life.
I grew up surrounded by books – my parents were both avid readers and book buyers; we hardly needed to heat our house as the walls were so well-insulated with shelves of books. I inherited from my parents a reluctance to get rid of books once read, and the Little Library outside our house today is the way we currently share unwanted, but not unvalued, paperbacks with passing readers.
Professionally, I spent the first 17 years of my so-called career selling books around the world – by direct mail, to bookshops and distributors, and at events. This was the heyday of ‘alternative’ ‘radical’ ‘community’ bookselling. It was (still) the days of the Net Book Agreement – before discounting and downloading from the internet changed everything to book prices and any sense of a level playing field. Even in those days – nearly 20 years ago – they were talking about the death of the printed book but here we are in 2018 and that’s still not the case.
When we first arrived in Royston – a market town of 15,000 people – we had two bookshops, now we only have a very niche bookseller and, Tesco, if you call them a bookseller. The nearest independent bookshop is 12 miles away (whom I support by ordering my books online through Hive who make a small % donation from each sale to my nominated bookshop).
On the subject of real books, you’ll not be surprised to hear that I’m a fierce opponent of e-readers. Yes – they are great for storing and reading hundreds of books the instant you want to read them on a device the size of a slim paperback. Yes – they save the trees that go into making printed books (but use other precious, less recyclable resources). Yes – I’ll probably have to get one when my eyesight needs large print, but, but, but…
My dear old mum used to go into bookshops, open a hefty new hardback and sniff inside the spine. I don’t know whether this was a version of glue-sniffing, but you can’t do that with a Kindle.