I looked in disbelief at the BBC online news article about the queues for the sales at the Oxford Street Selfridges, as shoppers waited to buy, by their own admission, anything that might be a bargain. Forgive me for being a Philistine about sales, as they seem to me to be artificially created to appeal to that quite basic instinct, greed, in the consumer. I’m not unhappy about a bargain, when one crops up by chance, but to devote sometimes hours to the pursuit of only a possibility seems absurd.
Of course, there are amazing book bargains to be had online for pence, trumpeted on Twitter and, for me, a worrying debasing of the real value of the works concerned. There seems to be something terribly ironic in pursuing a Kindle top rating by selling at incredible knock-down rates. I feel that a novel one has ‘bust a gut’ over deserves better treatment and more respect than this. Does the reader of a cut-cut-cut-price book have a sense of what has gone into it, or care?
I’m inclined not to tout for business in this way and, though I have metaphorically compared Twitter to a busy market where one may rub shoulders and converse with friends and strangers alike, I don’t see it as a place for selling my wares. I’m much more interested in the exchange of ideas and humour and in meeting people I’d never otherwise have a chance of engaging in conversation. Some of them might, as a result, buy my work, but because they have a sense of the person I am, not because my book is cheap.