Anyway, given that Lampeter plays a large part in the formation of Ruth and Trip in our book I shared it with the group and with the alumni newsletter. A post arrived from someone asking if Farewell Trip was available in hardback. The poster turned out to be the owner of an independent bookshop in Suffolk with an understandable axe to grind about e-books and Amazon.
This vexes me. And here's why. I love books. My house is overflowing with them. I collect first editions. I stroke them. I have a Kindle which Anne bought me to try to drag me into the 21st century but I’ve never managed to read a book on it. I am in essence in denial, a refusenik. I love bookshops. I love independent bookshops. I hate Amazon's negative impact, and I hate the end of the net book arrangement more. Yet my book is published in e-format only.
How do I fell about this? Frustrated, definitely. I can't deny it. But more than that, I feel absolutely fucking delighted. I gave up on being a writer aged about 27 when a mix of indolence and lack of talent made me go and work for the Man. And here I am 25 years later somehow with a novel in print (well, e-print), and published by one of the biggest publishing houses in the world.
Do I wish my book was in Waterstone's nestled between Twain and Updike, or given that Karin's name comes first, between Dickens and Dostoevsky? You betcha. Do I wish my friends all had gorgeous signed first editions on their shelves? Yep, yep, yep and yep.
On the other hand, do I mind that my book has been sold in Ho Chi Minh City, Johannesburg, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris, Munich, Barcelona and a load of places I've never heard of? Nope, I don't think I do. Do I mind that an unknown book by two old farts can reach number 1 in Amazon's women's contemporary romance chart in America, despite one of us being a man? Nope siree, I can't say I do.
I'd like to think there's room for both books and e-books. That may be naïve and silly. But I am glad e-publishing gave a couple of old-timers a chance to share a decent little story with a wider audience, when traditional publishing shunned it.
And hey, I hear vinyl's making a comeback...