Ex Talking Head David Byrne has a great website. He compiles a monthly playlist that you can listen to on his site or at iTunes. And it just gets better and better every month. This month is a list of artists from his old record label. Last month was Standards and before that Electronica, country music, Cuban oldies and many more. Perfect saturday afternoon listening.
Prizes and Lists
A commenter invited us a few posts back to compile what we thought would be a 15 title Booker Long list. There are a few reasons why we're not.
a) Personally, I'm not much of a list-maker. I must be one of the few men I know who have never alphabetised their record collection or library and I'm not much of a one for top 10's, 50 greatest, 100 countdown either. I've never really liked shelving too as I'm sure Matthew and Marie will have noticed - I kind of like 'ordered randomness', whatever that means.
b) I'm just not sure how you can turn literature into a hierarchy. Of course I believe in good and bad but every good book is so different from the next you can only discuss them on their own merits. You can compare and contrast but to place them in order seems somehow Romantic as opposed to Enlightened. I'm the latter, mostly.
c) At places like Waterstones it is imperative for them to have the same books front of house at every store. It doesn't make commercial sense for us to have the same 15 titles at the front of our shop as you see in Waterstones and the others. We'll look at the list, see what we like and stock what we think will be complimentary to our selection.
And d) We could run a C&P alternative Booker prize. It might be a bit of a laugh but I just don't think our customers would really care. Also see a) and b) above. The longlist is primarily a sales boost for Publishers much in the same way Valentine's Day is for card people. That's fine, everyone wants to make a bit of money but I think our punters expect a little more from us by now.
I might get into trouble for this
I read on Susan Hill's blog that she would never want to run a second hand bookshop. I too am having increasing difficulties with this part of the trade. Primarily any book sold from a secondhand shop or from the Amazon market place or Ebay that is still In Print means the author doesn't receive a royalty from that sale. That seems unfair. Considering authors make so little money anyway it seems really unfair. Maybe if 2nd hand dealers paid a kind of Author Tax so funds could be distributed to authors then maybe...
So, maybe secondhand places are good for Out of Print stuff. Unfortunately, for me this just points out the paucity of our libraries. If, when you are finished with a book and you don't want to keep it and it is out of print shouldn't there be a national network of libraries where that book can find a home and live on being borrowed? And shouldn't Out of Print stuff just be put on the Internet? Sorry, dodgy ground here.
Antiquarian? Again libraries. Oh dear, I don't really want to put second hand book dealers out of business. Honest.
But also, we get quite a few customers who are dedicated 2nd hand buyers. They ask us if we only sell new books and then leave in a cloud of contempt when we say yes. Sorry people but for a book to be second-hand someone has to have bought it new at sometime! You need us!
Last two books sold
Both to young twenty-something regulars. Madame Bovary to the very attractive woman and Philosophy Principles and Problems by Roger Scruton to the scruffy student bloke. Neither seemed to quibble at paying the cover price. Makes me come over all elitist and snobby. This is a good thing.
A message for Jonathan
We got the Banksy book in. Put it in the window. Of course it sold immediately. Mea Culpa Jon. Mea Culpa Matthew