The future of books? Winter book musings.

It is the quiet season in Newport. That means time to think, sort out books and generally catch up on various tasks that are normally pushed to the back of the queue.
I have the impression that others in North Pembrokeshire are in similar frames of mind – time to clear out the dining/sitting/bed-room, make space, redecorate etc. That often means a pile of books to bring in to Carningli Centre and sell. On one level, I am delighted. New stock is our life blood  and of course, as a book lover I’m always fascinated to see what others have been reading. Our local community includes such an intriguing mix of  people with varied, sometimes unexpected tastes.

A recent collection I bought consisted mainly of modern detective fiction. I had an interesting chat with the seller, who introduced me to a couple of new (to me) authors. I was glad to be able to offer our customers a fresh selection too. There is nothing like reading a cosy (why cosy? – as a pacifist woolly liberal, I often wonder how they can have this quality) murder mystery in front of the fire on a chilly winter evening. They also hit the spot on a boring journey, on the beach in Summer or even in the bath.

Yet each time someone has said  “Are you buying books?” recently I have felt a frisson of anxiety – I am still buying books – so far we are still selling books – but will it continue? I have my arguments for the advantages of  ‘real’ books over e-books well rehearsed. In the case of the detective fiction and other light reading the main point is disposability. We charge an average of £1.50 per paperback. At that sort of price if you drop it in the bath/sea, leave it in the train/hotel/cottage, pass it on to a friend etc., it really does not matter. It is a friendly way of reading – you cannot pass on e-books in the same spirit.

I could go on in this vein at great length  – name a type of book and I will come up with several reasons why the book version is superior to the ‘e’ one. That does not mean I believe my point of view will prevail though. We shall see……