I was in a branch of Waterstones the other day, which is the big bookshop chain in the UK, and I noticed that, where the face-out copy of J.K Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy should have been something else had appeared.
Another book was sitting there, taking the glory, and, to make things worse, it was a pretty shoddy looking book. It was skinny, barely more than a pamphlet, and it had a dull maroon cover with a white line drawing on the front. It reminded me of school text books from the 1970s. How could this cuckoo in the nest have got there? Well, I’m not Raymond Chandler, I wasn’t even in the detective fiction aisle, but I’m guessing we need look no further than the author of the ‘misplaced’ book.
Yes it could have been put there accidentally by a casual browser – but it wasn’t. I know authors, I am one, I know how our minds work. I could picture this one surreptitiously peering around to make sure no member of staff was looking before he slid his maroon magnum opus over the top of JK’s more widely appreciated work. He’d hang around nonchalantly for a few more moments, pretending to look at the Harry Potters, then slope off, a victorious smirk playing about his lips.
He was no doubt proud of his brilliant marketing coup, probably took time out of his busy schedule of spamming his Amazon link on social media in order to pop out to the book store and put his plan into action. Sadly nobody had bought the copy of his book, despite its high-profile position, and soon enough a member of the shop staff would spot it and clear it away.
It’s a temptation for all of us though, I admit it. When I see my book on the shelves in a store I have to resist the urge to place it face-out so people can see it more easily. Or, better still, to pick up a copy and put it on one of the display tables at the front of the store which draw customers to them like bees to nectar.
However, I resist the temptation. I’m too well mannered to break the bookshop by-laws, and besides, I worry about getting caught. Once a staff member sees the book there, sitting among the high-volume sellers, they will know straight away who’s put it there. They are not daft, it must happen all the time. I’m worried I will get told off – a snotty email, or worse still, they’ll ban me, then I won’t sell any books! So if you spot one of mine in the wrong place, it wasn’t me.
I play by the rules, unlike our anarchic friend with the maroon pamphlet, he makes his own rules, and his own books by the look of it.
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