Monday, 1 April 2013

New month - what to read

Friends who blog usually note 'what they've been reading' this month at month end. Which is a nicer idea than the chaos of a financial month end in retail or accounts. I was always put off by reading diaries, ever since the school insisted that I couldn't possibly have read that much in a week. (I could and did). Now, though, I'm buying and borrowing as many books as ever, not that I mention what I couldn't finish, hated or just 'passed the time'.

I love reading through what other readers are reading. I find it harder to trust mainstream print reviews as there are too many friends reviewing friends or academics looking for goodwill, but bloggers are happier to critique a free book. Some bloggers do wonderful reviews and I'm pleased to see them and consider. I also find the mixture of vintage and modern offerings that bloggers tend to offer to be far more interesting. I mentioned Waitrose's newsletter a while ago - it's good to see vintage and modern represented in their book reviews area. Books need time and often word-of-mouth to gain a readership and that's what so many books don't receive. Your average high-street bookshop has very limited shelf space and is under tremendous pressure to move stock, so you have to remember to buy what looked interesting now and hope you can balance your finances until payday.

So, rather than use a Goodreads or a LibraryThing model, perhaps publishers could modify their websites and print on demand offerings to balance backlist titles and the newest of the new. Yes, I realise publishers are now huge corporations, but they could show readers their imprints and suggest future novels to read within that imprint in a slightly different way to promote brand identity. Are people loyal to publishers or is it really to one author? I'd be very interested to know. I blog, admittedly quietly, to maintain interest in my books and remind people that I'm still here. I can only publish so many each year, so Twitter and the blog have to work to gain attention.


  1. Persephone Books seem to have a very loyal set of readers. It's interesting that they keep every book they've ever published in print. Virago used to have that loyalty, but it faded when they were taken over. I can remember as a child feeling that I ought to consider any Puffin as a potential purchase; it was as if I imagined that there was an editorial hand which selected books that might please me. I always look at what Jane Nissen has published, not because that firm has recommended particular books but because their list has proved very enjoyable to me. I do look on Amazon at what other customers bought who bought my favourite books, if only to find out what has been published.
    Ever since I read my father's William books, I've been looking for books which I will enjoy as much. Blogs are very useful, though non-book blogs are sometimes better, where the blogger feels particularly strongly about a single book; book review blogs sometimes give the impression of a production line. If I read a book which I've enjoyed and it's not from a mainstream publisher, I always look at what else they've published, but it does not seem to occur to friends to go down that route.

  2. Hello Andrew - you make some very valid points. Especially the 'value' of the Puffin and Jane Nissen lists. I agree about both. Yes, it's wonderful when I see repeat customers working their way through my list. It's also a way of reading that isn't seen as much now that the title is placed above the publisher's identity.