Saturday, 2 July 2011

Looking for something to read

I have stacks of books to read at the moment but I seem to have hit a slight reading rut, one of those blah moments when nothing seems to grab, it is not a reflection on the books but on me.   Despite the numerous unread titles and many old favourites awaiting a re-read I find I just sit amongst my books not able to discipline myself to focus on one title, I find I am thinking about the books I have not yet acquired that I suddenly seem to have an irresistible urge to read right now. 
I find local bookshops endlessly frustrating, they seem to have a very limited and very mainstream range of titles, I really do want to support local bookshops, particularly independents, but when they fail to stock very little beyond what I can buy at BigW or Kmart for a discounted price I wonder why I even try.  I mention this only because it relates to a recent frustration which has  arisen.
Several weeks ago I stumbled across a new speculative fiction title which I was very interested in, at the same time I have also been intensely aware of closing bookstores at every turn, so I decided I would not order this title from Book depository or Amazon but buy from a local bricks and mortar outlet.  The problem is this, here where I live we have a limited number of book shop possibilities and within those available retailers the stock they carry is limited and generally very mainstream, sci-fi for example has become increasingly limited and marginalised, and the title I am after falls into the genre designation of speculative fiction in particular steampunk and science fiction, so despite now being an award wining title I new that it was unlikely that I would find it here locally, which I didn't.  Now local book sellers are obliging and willing to order in titles, my problem with that is they tend to take at least twice as long as it would take for me to order the same title from the Book depository and charge me at least twice as much, usually more than twice the price as the Book depository, so this combined with a generally inadequate service is why I am reluctant to do so.  My preferred option is to make the trip to Brisbane and  visit an independent retailer who I know not only stocks a wide range of speculative titles and but is in fact a genre specialist.  In this general region a number of big book retailers have collapsed and finally closed their doors, (Borders and Angus &Robertson), these are stores that I utilised, since they have now failed I am afraid that without continued support we will see the smaller independents also struggle and in some cases, ultimately fail, hence my decision to try to avoid online book retailers, at least for the moment.  I do not want to lose the pleasure of just browsing, happy wandering with the possibility of discovering a hidden gem and the welcome guidance of knowledgeable sales assistants to help the process of discovery.  To an extent book blogs have provided a substitute for that process, but I am not yet ready to relinquish it completely, hence a determination to support good independent book stores.   For months now I have been trying to find a time to visit Pulp Fiction and a perfect time has simply not arisen, until now, next week I have a uni prac in Brisbane, so will be in the city for about a week, before coming home I am determined to find time to drop into Pulp Fiction.  Hopefully they will have the book I am hanging out to read, if they don't I will almost certainly find other books to pique my interest, in any case I will be buying a book, if not multiple titles from a favourite book shop, so even if they don't have the title I am after I can assuage my guilt and go home and order it from the Book depository.
The name of the book I am so keen to read, well it is the winner of this year's Philip K. Dick award: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder.  Just the cover alone on this title makes me want to read it, let alone the cool steam punk setting and characters.  In the meantime I discovered a great web site from the publisher where they post sample chapters from the books in their catalogue, including the first two chapters from this novel found here at;Sample chapters of Pyr Books.  Definitely a web site and publisher worth checking out.

In the mean time I have managed to pick up a book and will hopefully over the next week manage to finish The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds, not a long novel, so far characterised by beautiful prose, hopefully it will distract me from this blah mood and keep me reading.  It was shortlisted for the 2009 Booker prize and has been a title I have been meaning to read ever since it was mentioned on the Booker shortlist, I'm just a couple of years behind the times.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to shop exclusively at independent book stores and help them keep their heads above water but face the same problems here in the US - prices are always significantly higher, the clerks aren't knowledgeable and selection leaves much to be desired. I would hate to see the smaller stores close but if the owners can't at least make sure that the staff can discuss and recommend titles so that the potential customer would feel like they're getting something they can't get online in exchange for paying twice as much as they would on Amazon I won't be going out of my way to patronize them.