The Blockbuster Bestseller Monolith

I read an article a while back that had some statistics to show that the best way to sell a new book was to have previously sold a book. What this basically means that as a percentage of the market, popular authors were getting a bigger slice of the pie than say ten years ago.

That might account for the increasing numbers of co-authored books we now see on the market with a ‘big’ name plastered all over the cover.

There is also a bigger market for the famous for five minutes biography though I have a feeling that these are most popular with people who may not otherwise read a great deal. Those in the know can shoot me down in flames if they disagree about that. Not to mention that some of those monolithic best sellering biographies get very old, very, very quickly.

In a second hand shop I can’t stock many of these newest bestsellers, I do order in a few but with deep discounting on- line and in the chain stores it is hard to compete. What I can offer is range and access to back lists and more obscure authors. I try to keep a handle on what new books are being released because that often leads to requests for other books by the same author.

That means I have a lot of books. A lot of books!

Incidentally why do so many people come in and say things like wow what a lot of books, have you read them all? To which I always reply yes I HAVE read them all, twice.

But seriously I do try to read as much as I can and force myself to read outside my comfort zone from time to time.

Though I must hang my head in shame and say I have not yet read any Terry Pratchett or Alexander McCall Smith or Steig Larsson or Dan Brown, I’m going to I promise I really do.

Of course I do feel it incumbent on me to read a lot, like most retailers I feel I offer a better service if I know something about the products I sell. Luckily I love to read. My parents used to say I would read the phone book if there was nothing else available. That is one of the great things about turning a hobby into a business. Work can be leisure.

One of the pleasures for me as a book seller is to introduce people to new authors. Lots of fiction readers, me included find an author they like then read everything they can lay their hands on (that’s where my back list stock comes in). Once they have finished them all they have to leap into unchartered waters and try something new. If you are buying new books (especially here in Australia) that can lead to an expensive mistake. Buying a second hand book that you can trade back means that if you can’t get past the first 30 pages you don’t have to worry too much. After all, life is too short to waste it reading a bad book.

And that means we can get people to try authors who aren’t Blockbuster Bestseller Monoliths. I like to suggest Australian authors when I can. Peter Corris and Gabrielle Lord are two who spring to mind, they both write decent crime fiction but if I get asked for them once a year I would be lucky.

I hope people can visit their second hand book shop for service, advice and a range of books you will not see at the discount store as well as a reasonable price. And if they offer exchange (like me) the chance for books to be read and enjoyed more often, by more people.

Therese Holland
McLeods Books
10 Station St
Nunawading 3131

3 thoughts on “The Blockbuster Bestseller Monolith”

  1. I’m horrified you haven’t read Terry Pratchett or Alexander McCall Smith, they are both brilliant authors. I haven’t read any Stieg Larsson so can’t comment on him but don’t waste your time on Dan Brown, life’s too short.

  2. It is very enjoyable to get that positive feedback especially when they ask for more books by the same author! It can work the other way too, a couple of customers were saying how much The Joy Luck Club meant to them, especially in the way it spoke to their experiences as first generation Australians so I have decided to read it, I would never have picked it up otherwise. So far all I can say is I will never see the movie as I am way too much of a cry baby.

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