I work as a bookseller. It’s the sort of job that will always have some random stranger expressing jealousy at dinner parties. The idea of spending your days surrounded by words is a very appealing one to a certain type of person. Luckily for me, those are just the sort of people I like ending up talking to. Give me a couple of glasses of wine to take the edge off and I’d much rather hear you talk about your passion for regency romances or Star Trek novelisations than listen to you talk about the epic run you had last weekend, or how much your car costs. Just don’t talk to me about self-help books. Not that self-help books are bad, in themselves. My wife sells them for a living. But there is something about going on about a self-help book that you love that reveals more about you than strangers at a dinner party need to know.
But our world is dying. I was peripherally aware of the disaster that hit the music industry a few years ago, but it didn’t really seem that important. There is still new music on the radio, and I know more about Justin Bieber than I know about any of my neighbours. But the truth is that the change that hit the industry was nothing short of catastrophic. The revenue that the industry earned went from tens of billions down to mere billions. Jobs were lost and others changed beyond recognition. You could, should the mood take you, buy enough music to never hear the same song twice for the rest of your life without ever buying another cd. You can fill up your 16 gig iPod without stepping into a shop. And if you aren’t too stressed about the moral implications you can find the right Russian website and do it for free. But we told ourselves that would never happen to books. Books are different.
And then some bastard went and invented the Kindle. And now our world is slowly collapsing. Major book chains have already closed. And the one I work in is changing faster than any of us thought possible. And the books themselves are changing. The big publishers can’t afford to take as many risks on new books. So after Twilight hit the big time, I spent two years buying books about sexy vampires. The Da Vinci code spawned a wave of crappy ancient conspiracy books with arcane symbols and medieval buildings on the covers. And as we speak, a hundreds of desperate hacks are, churning out a tsunami of BDSM porn for middle age housewives and dreaming of 50 Shades of Grey. But all in vain. No-one makes money from writing books any more. The J.K.Rowlings and Stephanie Meyers stand out because they are exceptions. Everyone else had better hold on to their day jobs.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to write a book. Again. The last attempt failed when my laptop got stolen. The one before that faltered when I wandered off into my garden and started moving large rocks around. For months. Before that I had children. They tend to be a little distracting.
The truth, though, is that they would have faltered anyway. Unless I am doing something physical, I have all the focus and application of a Labrador puppy. But this time, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to do this blog. Not just about writing a book, but just to remind me that that is what I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, with the way my mind works, I will be surprised if the book gets mentioned at all. I’m just going to ramble. It’s what I was born to do. Wish me luck.