“All that is selling in Crime Fiction is CJ Sansom and Scandinavian books.” That’s what I was told today in Waterstones.
Let me backtrack a moment. I decided to let Mrs Puzzledoctor get on with some work this morning by going for a walk in Watford town centre. After visiting the charity shops and finding a Simon Brett book for £1, I went off to Waterstones. I’ve decided that it’s time to investigate Paul Doherty’s range of mystery series (see the previous post on the highly enjoyable Nightshade) and I figured that there would be a few that I could pick up there (hopefully 3 for 2). Call me picky, but I do like to visit and buy from actual bookshops on occasion, rather than relying on Amazon, even though I know that’ll be cheaper.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. [INSERT RUDE WORD] all.
A very helpful assistant, when asked, knew exactly who Paul Doherty was – clearly Waterstones don’t use the same recruitment pool as Currys – although wasn’t aware that he was still publishing work (two books were released in 2010). Apparently, all that sells at the moment is CJ Sansom and Scandinavian crime. So that’s basically all they stock.
I’m no business man, but clearly this is a vicious circle. If you don’t have a couple of sampler books for a wide variety of authors and styles, with “if you like CJ Sansom, try this” you limit your market. I know bookshops aren’t a type of intellectual charity, endeavouring to spread as wide a range of styles of novel as possible, but it would be nice if they made an effort sometimes. Besides, does the shop really need a whole shelf of MC Beaton books. Or a hefty chunk of “The Cat Who Licked Its Own Bottom” books by Lilian Braun.
So, gentle reader, I implore you. Everyone has their own favourite in-print but under-available author. The aforementioned Paul Doherty and Simon Brett spring to mind for me. So when passing a Waterstones or another book emporium (RIP Borders, by the way), pop in, check the shelves, and ask the helpful assistant if they have books by that author. You never know, it may prompt them into ordering a few. And that may lead to someone buying one of them. And that’s how avalanches start…