My Love-Affair with the Paperback: 2013 365 Challenge #81

A random selection of books

A random selection of books

It seems ironic that, on the day when my second free promotion of Dragon Wraiths goes live on kindle, I visit the charity shop and purchase a random selection of paperbacks. These books cost the same as the average ebook for a self-published author – around the £2 ($3) mark. Yet it’s unlikely that I would buy an ebook from an author I had never heard of, particularly not without a review.

My buying process was the same – I liked the front cover and genre, I read the first few pages and the blurb, and I made a decision. Not the Wendy Holden of course, I’ve got a shelf-full. But the other two are a complete gamble.Yet, even though I’m trying to self-publish as an unknown author, these books feel more ‘real’.

Oh dear.

If I feel like that, and I genuinely know that self-published ebooks can be just as good as something that’s been accepted by a publisher, no wonder Dragon Wraiths has only sold 10 copies. It’s not even like I haven’t read some awful books that were traditionally published. Many of my random charity shop purchases remain unread or unfinished. And yet I still persist in being a paperback person.

Much more attractive than a kindle

Much more attractive than a kindle

Perhaps it’s because I don’t own a kindle and reading books on a laptop, even a little one like mine, isn’t much fun. I did try my mother’s kindle but I couldn’t navigate it (it was the old sort with just a couple of buttons) and soon gave up.

I’m not dissing ebooks (that would be silly as I’m trying, badly, to sell one!). I would have loved a kindle when I was travelling, just as I would have loved an iPod. It would have saved me from days with no company (and from endless commercial radio!). A kindle/iPod combination when I was breastfeeding my kids at 2am would have been a lifesaver.

It’s just that I’ve had a paperback in my hand since I could read.

I often had an egg-sized bump on my head as a child from walking into lamp-posts because I had my nose in a book. I read everything from Mills & Boon to Gone With The Wind before I left Middle School. Reading was my life. Until I hit the real world. These days, more often than not, it’s my phone in my hand rather than a decent book, and blogs and twitter are my reading material.  

Funnily enough, I don’t miss CDs. We have boxes of them in the loft but I don’t feel bereft that the music is now all on the computer. Far from it. I love being able to mash my own selections together without having to copy and burn discs (or, even worse, sitting there with a tape-to-tape set up and a twitchy trigger finger).

With books it is different. They’re a visual medium. The font, the pictures, the creases, the chocolate stains, the warped pages where it got dropped in the bath. These are all part of the reading experience. Seeing which books end up at charity shops in droves. Seeing the ones that have hardly been touched and the ones that have been re-read a hundred times. It’s part of the book history (one of the best bits of my MA).

And so my love-affair with the paperback continues. I might be trying to sell an ebook but I’m not ready to sell-out to digital. Sorry.


Claire looked up the location of the hostel she’d just booked and swore. “That’s miles from Hathersage and I’ve still got to back for the bloody car. Stupid YHA and their stupid school trips.”

She’d been phoning round the hostels for twenty minutes while waiting for the train home, her new phone sitting happy in her hand. It turned out that several of the Peak District hostels were only open at weekends and during the school holidays for non-school visitors. Not that I really want to stay with a bunch of school kids anyway. Eventually she’d found a hostel near Bakewell that had beds free.

I’m not sure I like the name Youlgreave. That sounds prophetic. What’s going to happen to me there? I’ve already been half-frozen, lost, wedged in a rock and mugged since I started on this trip.

Something about the words you’ll grieve made her think of Ruth. I haven’t called since last week. I’d best make sure everything is okay and Sky is happy to come on the road with me.

She pulled out her new phone, smiling at the unscratched screen and brand new cover. Then she remembered she had no idea what Ruth’s phone number was. With a sigh she delved in her bag for her iPad. I really should memorise some numbers. What if they’d taken my iPad too? I’d be buggered. I barely know my own number.

Eventually she located her sister’s number and was able to call.

“Hello, Sky speaking.”

“Hello Sky, it’s Auntie Claire.” She was about to ask to speak to Ruth when she realised she’d have to talk to her niece at some point. “Um. How are you?”

“Auntie Claire! Mummy’s poorly and Nana is looking after me. She picked me up from school today. We did numbers and PE and I learned how to do a cartwheel and then Susie was mean to me but we made up. And Nana let me buy a cake on the way home to cheer Mummy up because she’s sad. Mummy says you’re taking me to the seaside! When are you coming, is it tomorrow?”

Claire held the phone away from her ear and tried to follow the rapid-fire monologue, wondering which bits she was meant to respond to. She figured the last question would be enough.

“Friday. I’ll be there on Friday Sky.”

“Yippee. I can’t wait. It’s going to be so much fun. Will you paint my nails and do my make-up? Pleeeaasse?”

“Er, sure. Yes. We can do that.” Claire thought about her make-up bag. It must be in my rucksack somewhere. I don’t remember leaving it behind. She made a mental note to buy some child-friendly products before she got to Cambridgeshire.

“Is your Mummy there, Sky?” She held the phone further away from her ear as her niece yelled “Mummy!” She heard the phone clunk, followed by the sound of running. I feel bad for disturbing her now. Maybe I should have called Mum instead, although it sounds like she’s probably there too. A shard of guilt stabbed in Claire’s chest at the thought of her mother looking after Ruth while she swanned around taking pictures and writing for the blog. Not to mention getting mugged and sleeping in noisy rooms with total strangers.

The phone clicked and there was a shuffling noise. “Claire?”

Ice slid into Claire’s stomach at the sound of her sister’s voice. She sounded twenty years older. It has been only a few days? I haven’t disappeared into some new time zone out here in the sticks?

“Ruth? How are you?” She tried to make her voice cheerful but she could hear the wobble.

A low chuckle came down the line. “I’ve been better. I’m glad you’re taking Sky. I’m going to miss her, but I need some quiet. She tries, but her nursing me is worse than her being normal.” The words came slowly, like each one needed to rise to the surface before it could be pushed down the phone-line.

“It’s the least I can do. Look do you want me to come before Friday? Give you and Mum a break?”

“No. It’s fine. I think Mum’s enjoying it in a strange way. It’s giving her so much to be a martyr about. Actually.” There was a pause. “Could you come on Thursday? Sky will be off-the-wall hyper when she finishes school. I’m not sure I can bear it. You can stay here the night if you don’t mind the sofa.”

Claire quickly tried to evaluate which would be worse, staying in the Cambridge hostel with a small child or kipping on her sister’s couch. It might be nice to spend a night away from the hostels. Carl doesn’t need to know.

“Sure sis, I’ll come Thursday. I can collect Sky from school.”

“Okay.” The phone went silent. Claire didn’t want to hang up. The words you’ll grieve thrummed in her mind. But it was clear her sister was exhausted.

“Great. I’ll see you then. And sis… take care.”


4 thoughts on “My Love-Affair with the Paperback: 2013 365 Challenge #81

  1. I’ve always had my “nose stuck in a book” since the happy day that I clearly remember in 1st grade when I realized that I knew how to read. The whole world opened up for me that day. I have a bookcase full of second hand paperbacks waiting. BUT, my hubby bought me a Nook Hd tablet with wifi from Barnes & Noble, and I converted to loving ebooks because it is so easy to use. If you have B&N over there in the UK?? Then I do recommend the Nook. Mine is in a little canvas zippered case with a handle, so I just grab and go like a second purse an am never without a library of free books to choose from depending on my mood. And wifi hotspots in public places keep me in touch with a easy toggle button, then right back to the ebook without losing my place. Well, my positive experience anyway.
    I find I will try unknown authors in a free ebook, then buy others from same author, but don’t get as much info from ebook description and review to make a buying decision, unless there is also a free chapter sample. For paperbacksits easier to decide after reading a page or two. But I love my Nook for sure….probably read paperbacks only out in the sun or poolside now.
    Happy reading. Cheers, Angela

    • Hubbie did buy me a Kindle Fire HD for my birthday and I returned it 😦 It was gorgeous and it was great for internet surfing, but it was heavy and I didn’t like the amazon interface. Maybe I will try a Nook, I do think they’re available through WHS… To be honest I don’t get much chance to read anything but blogs these days: the attention span and ability to stay awake isn’t there! Also it’s hard to see reading as anything other than a guilty pleasure!

  2. Pingback: Parenting: Snow Fun. 2013 365 Challenge #84 | writermummy

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