Not of READING, you understand (after all, you are reading THIS) rather, the classic MEDIUM.
We all remember bookshops – but how often do you SEE them now? Fact is, these days, mostly only big CHAIN bookstores survive. And even THEY cannot wait for the lead-up to Christmas each year.
Then, they get to shift all those TV and movie spin-off books – and the ubiquitous “Guinness Book Of Records” (which these days is just a plebby entertainment – not the definitive guide to SERIOUS accomplishments it once was).
However, sadly the small independent bookshop is fast disappearing. Some have added coffee-bars to try to drum up custom – but often, they end up adding a kitchen and DUMPING the books altogether.
While shop-owners put ads on the Interweb (which to some extent is the thing that killed books to BEGIN with) pleading for people with a thousand bucks and a van to come and take their stock AWAY – so they can fill said shop with something they can SELL.
These days, books can be divided into just three categories – educational books, that students are FORCED to buy – specialist books that sell in small numbers at the few surviving bookshops – and best-sellers that are written by one of just a couple of dozen authors.
But most of these last are NOT sold in bookshops. No, they are loaded onto small carousels, which occupy a few square feet of any shop that will take one – everything from newsagents to supermarkets.
Which is tragic. What happens to the thousands of good writers who have no more chance of becoming one of those two dozen best-selling authors than a young actor has of becoming the next Tom Cruise?
They are on THIS medium, that’s where. But unless they can get onto Kindle, they make NOTHING from their work.
Over a century ago, Jules Renard said, “Writing is the only profession where no-one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”
How ironic that between then and today, the writing and reading of books grew into a mammoth industry – which has now all but petered OUT…