Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Writing - For the love of books

I don't think anyone really knows the answer to why books have such power over people - but they do. In fact so much power that dictators have had books banned and even burned. They were afraid of what books could do, and that was get inside people's heads and give them different views of the world.

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Books perform a myriad of functions because they are received differently by every individual, so reactions to books are as numerous as the billions of people on the Earth. Of course people do band together in loose groups according to the types of books they enjoy. They may not hold meetings or have formal agendas but they talk to each other about what they have read. 
I know people who chat about certain authors and even exchange books.

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Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is one such author in my circle of friends. Fortunately for us, he is a prolific author who is unafraid to switch genre, and so there is plenty to talk about.

Of course it has to be remembered that this is a relaxed social activity that provides entertainment and even food for thought.

Christ the King, Battyeford

At the above church we hold an annual Christmas Fair and of course there is the obligatory second hand book stall. (I was really pleased to see one of my own books on there last year.) However, there is always a romance section with plenty of stories published by Mills & Boon and the like. Well now there is a bookshop been opened selling only romance books.

Leah (left) and Bea Koch
Leah and Bea Koch

Romance novels are a billion dollar industry, vastly outselling science fiction, mystery and literary books.
And there's only one rule for writing a romance - it has to have a happy ending.
Yet the romance genre has long been dismissed as smut or trashy by many in, and out, of the publishing world - a fact that mystifies sisters Bea and Leah Koch, who last month opened the US's first exclusively romantic fiction bookstore.
Their shop in Los Angeles is called The Ripped Bodice, and the store's motto is "smart girls read romance".
"The fact that up until now the best-selling genre in America didn't have its own bookstore honestly didn't seem fair to us," says Leah Koch.
"You have comic book stores, and science fiction bookstores, and mystery bookstores - probably all of which combined romance sells more than. We deserve our own book store, too." 

The fact is there is a market for every book written; there are fashions in reading that influence sales; there is an old boys' network that controls publishing and book awards; but, if you write a book someone will read it and the chances are that they will want more. So whether the bookstore is for romance or SF or whatever else, there will be a readership. 

Bets of luck to the Koch girls.

God Bless