I’ve read a book yesterday.
You read a Book?
Ha, but wait, dear fellow writers! I was lucky enough to be able to read an out-of-print book. I sort of mindlessly stumbled upon it in the audiobook section of an app I merely cannot live without these days.
It almost felt like finding a treasure in that used book store nearby where I used to live, about a decade ago. Good times!
It’s the kind of book you might not be able to find in a library either. Indeed, if you live anywhere else than here, in my little North-American francophone bubble, you will definitely not find it anywhere.
(Side note: aren’t you baffle sometimes by the incredible amount of wonderful stories we’ll never read because they are buried in libraries everywhere in the world, written in languages we’ll never learn. Author Carlos Luis Zafon explores the idea in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books; a beautiful novel, if ever you like a bit of magic.)
It’s a young kid novel, released in 2011. The first of 4. And like I said, out-of-print. A fairly interesting little novel, brought back to life by the kind people in charge of the Audiobook section on the OHdio app.
Now, the scene is set. Time for a little confession. I’ve always had ambiguous feelings towards audiobooks, and even more twisted feelings toward Epub and PDF books. My affection is growing over time, still…
Still, I grew up with books printed on paper.
I felt so lucky, back when I worked in bookstores and bookshops, to be able to get my hands on secret ARCs, to discover new books every single week.
I love, love, love spending time curled up with a book in my hands (although, I read less nowadays).
I love the smell of the pages – yep, I’m that kind of gal -, I love the moment where you realized you read a paragraph twice already and it might be time to go to bed but… just one last chapter.
Thing is, as I briefly mentioned above, there’s a bunch of fresh new books released Every Single Week. Of that bunch, there might be ten, twenty new novels, if we agree to mingle all genres and ages here. The most devoted book clerk, the most avid reader can’t possibly read them all.
This leads me back to the main topic of this post: the sad destiny of books.
Maybe it’s only a my-hubby-to-be thing.
He complains once a week, at the very least, about the way things are stored in the fridge. « We should put everything upfront so nothing goes bad. »
Read there that, in his opinion, everything should be visible so he doesn’t have to take two seconds to look for what he needs to cook himself up one of his Asia-inspired meals (those who agree with kimchi smell might be intrigued; I am not).
Same goes for books.
In the bookstore, we sometimes had that very comment from clients. Why couldn’t they find the books they were looking for at first glance?
Well, because every single book in a bookstore, yet in a library, can be placed upfront on the shelves. The space it takes! And of course, as you all very well know, once a book is on the bookstore shelves, it doesn’t stay there for long, unless it’s a great best-seller. Even then, a best-seller’s life might be short on the shelves.
After all, some bestsellers are doomed to be forgotten. Only a few others will make the cut and become essential titles a bookstore always has to carry.
In a physical bookstore, things need to move! The life of a new book on the shelf is short unless it sells very well. Again, as you all know.
Those books are either shipped back to the publishers or destroyed.
Those books are on their way to their sad destiny: the out-of-print world.
It might be shocking. But.
Novels are not only beautiful works of art, wonderful or upsetting-but- necessary stories, an amazing way to learn about the world through the eyes of authors, a way to laugh and dream.
Novels are a product. They are sold. And when they’re not selling anymore, they are tossed away and forgotten.
Out-of-print is a very sad label. I understand it, but it always disappoints me to see those words, often in bright red, near a book title, I put in a wish list some two or three years back.
I don’t know about your wish lists, fellow writers, but, in all humbleness, mine are growing ever longer!
I love novels, but I’m particularly fond of kids’ albums. The illustrations are so beautiful, the stories heartwarming, or heartbreaking, or on the poetic side. Those books are faired priced for all the hard work that went into it.
Like many book lovers, however, I can’t buy them all. There’s something about getting food on the table and other miscellaneous expenses between us and all the books we wish you could stack up in our own bookshelves.
We can’t save all the books for their sad out-of-print destiny. Of course, the Internet, this famous-infamous world-life changing invention that conquered the planet, may help us save more books than before.
Still, opening a new novel, a bande dessinée, a graphic novel, a kids album is a unique experience involving all our senses. (Yep, I’m part of the awesome « I love the smell of books » gang. Join us, we’re great!)
The sad destiny of books makes them even more precious to my eyes.
It makes what we write, dear fellow writers, even more significant.
May all the good words flow your way.