We took part in our village’s ‘Sale Trail’ today, part of the proceeds going to a good cause. Everybody who had anything to sell put their goods on a table in their front gardens and waited for the punters to arrive. Sam told me there were boxes of books up in the loft that had been there for 20+ years, and also a travel cot, toys and books that the grandchildren had grown out of. I also had some trousers and tops that I didn’t wear anymore.
We set up the stall at 9.30 and waited for our first visitors. Straight away the travel cot was sold, along with the children’s books and toys. But what about the 50 hardback autobiographies and biographies plus paperback fiction books (all traditionally published) that had been gathering dust in the loft? After 3 hours only one book had been sold, a Stephen King thriller.
I had a little ponder about what this sorry state of affairs could mean. Are people not reading much anymore, or is the biography genre not as popular as other genres? Are people only reading on Kindles these days or on their iPhones?
Sam doesn’t read many books at all, but he sat there and picked up one of the hardbacks in the pile and enjoyed perusing it in-between customers – a biography of the rock band Status Quo. Little titters escaped from his lips at Rick and Francis’ antics.
I think also that the age of the people looking at our stuff had something to do with it. Busy mothers buying the kids’ toys and books had no time to read adult fiction or non-fiction, and teenagers and twenty somethings are probably more likely to read on an iPad, a mobile phone, or some other electronic device. The only people showing a faint interest in any of the books were the middle-aged or elderly.
Do people actively go into a bookshop and buy hardback books these days? Is the preference for buying online snaking out tentacles to encompass and engulf bookshops? In the future will the high street just consist of cafes and phone shops? Hmm…it’s something to think about.