Or, why I am only going to read indie novels for the last quarter of the year.
I used to have a lot of bookshelves, paperbacks and hard-covers lined up two rows deep where space allowed. That was in London. I used to spend my lunchtimes browsing through Waterstones, scanning the fiction shelves for covers and spines which caught my eye. Most of the time there was no conscious pattern to my search, it was just pure browsing. And that’s how I made some of my best discoveries.
Then two things happened: the move, and the Kindle.
We moved back to Australia. Books went into boxes, and boxes and bookshelves went into shipping containers, and everything eventually made its way into a character-filled Queenslander in Brisbane which had exactly zero fucking wall space against which to stand a bookcase. Walls only served one of two purposes in the house, places for windows or places for doors. So the books stayed in boxes, boxes went into the garage.
And then there was the Kindle. Kindle didn’t care that there was no Waterstones to browse during my lunch breaks — I could find just about anything I wanted right there on the interwebz. And if I didn’t know what I was looking for? Amazon was more than happy to offer suggestions, big grinning digital pimp that he is. Problem is, I like to pretend I’m immune to advertising, so I end up reading from my list of safe authors rather than take a risk. I think a lot of that is down to the medium. An ebook has no texture, no weight. You can’t take in a wall of books with just a lazy glance; you have to click, tap or swipe, dive down menu structures into sub-sub-sub-genre, only do discover you’ve landed in the top ten list of hard-boiled mystery/comedies set in Scotland with female detective leads and paranormal themes.
Now I’m living with bookshelves again. The house we’re in has a full wall of built-in shelves, and my books can finally breathe. I found myself staring at that wall of paper the other day, picking out the novels I’d forgotten about, authors whose words I can remember reading with no prior knowledge of what I was getting into and thinking to myself, fucking yes. I haven’t felt that for while, ever since Kindle came into my life.
So, I’ve made a decision: I am going to read books exclusively by indie authors for the remainder of the year, starting October first. Why? Because I want to find something which doesn’t have a marketing budget, something I found purely by looking. I expect the search will be hard, but I’m hopeful of finding some books to fill a new shelf, an e-shelf. (Did I think of calling it iShelf? Yes I did, but my lawyers advised me against it.)
But before I start, maybe I have time to squeeze in a quick Christopher Moore …