I recently heard an Independent Bookseller describe herself as an ‘ambivalent capitalist”. She was addressing a group of everyday authors – none of us stars in the literary firmament. We are just people who write stuff which people will hopefully enjoy reading.
Since the advent of e-books, life has changed for aspiring authors. No more brown envelopes of thick manuscripts sent off in the hope of, at the very least, a kind word six months later from agents and publishers. And no rejection slips with which to wall-paper the loo. Now we can do it ourselves. Publish – not wall-papering. We can write and let the market decide if a book is worth buying- online.
It’s tougher to get new books, hard copies of books onto the shelves of actual bookshops that have overheads and staff to pay. Often the reading public has no idea a book even exists because without the marketing departments in publishing companies, why would they? Word of mouth is great but even in the age of social media – slow. There is, SO MUCH CHOICE and tempus fugits… fastus. Fastus than the next postus.
The gatekeeper to the hardcopy market is the Independent Bookseller. These are the brave, ‘ambivalent capitalists’ who put their shelf space on the line for aspiring authors without the benefit of a publisher’s comforting presence. They are the ones who invest their resources in the hope that a book will succeed for the sake of …well books. Literature if you must. Art if you absolutely have to go there.
The ambivalent capitalists take a punt on unknown authors because they love books more than money – a punt that the chain stores never take.
This week a friend bought ‘Hot Flush’ in Wellington having tracked it down to the home of the ‘ambivalent capitalist’. Tauranga does not stock Hot Flush. (Yet). (Call me). Thank you friend. Thank you Ambivalent Capitalist.
Please support an Independent Bookseller near you…oh and buy Hot Flush- it’s a good read. People say so. But if it doesn’t take your fancy, buy a different book. The shelves are full of them.