Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book-buying in Ireland

My friend and blog-follower Zoe over at Apples and Bananas should be happy to read this. According to Fintan O'Toole's article in the Irish Times, Irish book-buyers are flocking to buy non-fiction titles about current affairs.

There are some great titles being released at the moment. I haven't been reading much about current affairs myself, because in the Irish press we're already hearing so much doom and gloom, and there is only so much I can take. By contrast, my hunger for cosy writers like Alexander McCall Smith (whom I love to pieces) and remote, dramatic historical fiction (Forever Amber and Gone With Wind) has skyrocketed. I don't account for any of the statistic myself, but it is nevertheless interesting.

What caught my attention about this article, though, was the line "Publishers have cottoned on to the fact that the market here is not really among book collectors but among book readers. It is, in other words, essentially a paperback market." I felt a little swell of patriotic fervour at that. And two new bookshops (that I'm aware of) have opened since the current economic recession started. We are a fairly bookish society over here, and very few people snigger at me when I tell them I want to be a writer.

The fact that Ireland is largely a paperback market reminded me of a post over at Apples and Bananas earlier this week, about book pricing. I forgot to mention in my comment that the practice of releasing fiction titles in hardback first drives me nuts. It's only a problem with certain writers - I'm quite disorganised and I don't often manage to buy books I want to read for some time after they come out, so usually there is a paperback by the time I'm likely to notice.

But with some writers, I hear that they have a new book out and I simply must read it. Terry Pratchett is the obvious one. Alexander McCall Smith is another (although not his world-conquering Number One Lady Detective so much as Isabel Dalhousie and 44 Scotland Street. I haven't read Corduroy Mansions yet because I'm scared of how another AMcS serial novel might take over my life. I adored Scotland Street. I can't overstate this). I'm the same with Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books - although I was a bit disappointed in Weapons of Mass Destruction, I stopped off in the Big Ben Bookshop in Prague two days running to read the first few pages of The Prostate Years. Luckily, Christmas is coming.

And I dislike hardbacks in general. They press uncomfortably on your belly if you read on the couch or in bed. They weigh more in a bag. They take up more space on a cafe table when you put them down between mouthfuls of dinner.

So it turns out I'm Irish in my format preference but not in my taste. Can't say I'm surprised!


  1. I prefer paperbacks only because they are more comfortable to read while in bed. The big hardbacks are too uncomfortable and hurt my wrists.

    Smiles :)

  2. It really is the little things in life, isn't it?

    I also buy my bags around my books and notebooks, which is why I still carry a backpack at the age of 25.


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