Thursday, 27 August 2009

I Love It Here

And one of the reasons I love my job is that every now and then someone comes along looking for something that isn't shit. Yesterday I had a guy buying a couple of good books on US history. I had a guy who wanted me to find the new Arthur Ransome biography for his wife. I had a young guy come in wanting a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and a couple buying a shedload of heavyweight literary fiction. I even had a guy buying both the Guardian and the Mail who laughed when I made a joke about the inevitable cognitive dissonance that would result.

These are the good guys. They're the people who haven't yet let their brains atrophy, the people who still believe in good writing, good art and good culture instead of unit-shifting celebrity bullshit. These are the people who help those of us in the book trade who also believe these things to keep the faith. And if you're reading this, then you're one of those people. And I'd like you to do something for me.

Tomorrow is payday for most of us. The day we get our hard-earned money. And what I'd like you to do is take some of that money and go to your local bookshop. Could be an independent, could be a Borders, could be a branch of the W; could be a Barnes and Noble if you're in the US. Hell, if you're in the UK, it might even be a branch of WH Smith *shudder*.

Go to your local bookshop, and buy something good. Doesn't matter what genre. You like biography, buy a decent biography. You like sci-fi, buy some good sci-fi. You like crime, buy some good crime. Whatever. Buy something that rocks. Something where you know the guy writing it played from his fucking heart, in the words of the late Bill Hicks, instead of just advancing a career or servicing a demographic. Buy something that you know the writer burned to fucking write. Buy something that you burn to fucking read. Buy that book you always said you'd get around to. Buy some Nabokov, some Proust. But buy something good. Something written by a writer, not a celebrity.

Because if you do this, you'll make the person behind the counter feel, just for a second, that we are out there. We haven't stopped resisting. That the world of literature is indeed a fine place, and is indeed worth fighting for.

Because, dear reader, there are people out there who don't actually care. People who think that unit-shifting's the whole of the game, that books are the same as bananas and lager, a commodity that should be sold for maximum profit and no more. And these people need to be reminded that, while they want to impose a moronic monoculture on us all in the endless quest for profit, some have different dreams. And, in the days of shame that are coming, in the nights of wild distress, those of us who share those dreams of a vibrant, smart and genuinely beautiful culture are going to have to stand up for them.

So let's stand up together, tomorrow. Because after all, it's not too late to make a better world.

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