Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Old favourites & new ways

Today I submitted my New Writer's Scheme book to M&B (eek). When I first submitted The Terrible Historical only four years ago I had to print out my three chapters and synopsis and send it, a big fat chunky parcel. I felt like Jo March or Anne Shirley toting my manuscript down to the post office. Today I simply attached a couple of documents and pressed send. Easy.

Publishing, communications, marketing, even the way I buy and read books has changed so much in such a short time. I am an ex bookseller, I worked for two major chains, one of which still exists. And I loved it, surrounded by books all day, organising events at night, meeting authors, some of whom were lovely, a few even took pity on us poor, badly paid, enthusiastic booksellers and took us out for beers afterwards.

I still love bookshops and have the logo, décor and look of my dream children's bookshop very clear in my head. Shame I have no capital to make it a reality. And yet I buy most of my books online.

Do you remember when the only way to find a much-loved out of print book was to trawl second hand book shops, that feeling of excitement when you found the book you were looking for? I have a hardback copy of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, found in a book-stuffed shop in Scarborough long before the Vintage re-release. I collected Antonia Forest's fabulous Marlow family books at library sales and charity shops; I still remember the heart stopping moment I found Peter's Room on a market stall in Beverley. Now, of course, the excellent Girl's Gone By have republished the whole series along with many other children's classics.

I still adore a good second hand book shop but am much more likely to google a title, a list of shops and websites springs up making it easy to find the book I need. I loved an Australian book, Playing Beattie Bow, and when my husband suggested calling our daughter Abigail my mind flashed straight back to this time travelling tale and it's loner of a heroine. Of course Abigail is also the name of a Georgette Heyer heroine (Black Sheep) so a win-win (her second middle name is Anne, with an 'E' natch after my favourite literary heroine). I've always wanted to get a copy of Playing Beattie Bow but it is now out of print. Three clicks on Amazon, however and a second hand copy was despatched that evening.

The same night I remembered another teen favourite. I didn't know the title or author (any other ex-booksellers out there rolling their eyes?) but I did remember that it was a young adult romance set in Ancient Egypt. I put those words in a search engine and immediately a list came up, first book was Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Another click and £3 later and its on its way.
The kindle has also revolutionised my book buying, I love lying in bed at 9pm and just buying a book to read there and then. I still love paperbacks, hardbacks, the smell and feel but with a small house and a LOT of books there's no shortage of tactile reading experiences. It can be TOO easy to buy with a kindle though, not only do I spend far more money than I used to but occasionally I make mistakes and buy the wrong book completely, that doesn't happen with paperbacks!

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