by Lee Cross
“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours…”.
One day you’re a best seller and on the big shelf by the checkouts, with a massive sticker on your front cover reading “€22.99” (forgive me I’m not up-to-date with exchanges rates, but that roughly equates to TAKING THE PISS in most currencies).
You’re a sports biography, telling tales of a recently retired superstar… You’re a cookbook, complete with the deeply ironic glossy cover photo of a person who no longer cooks food for other people… You’re a spy thriller, based a character who had made it to the cinema during last summer’s blockbuster season… You’re 300 pages of utter shit, about somebody sexy enough to sell column inches and advertising time….
You are a book being sold on the high street in December.
Of course we, the bookworms of this world, can still buy our novels too, but they’re buried way out back in the genre sections; where you have to put your mind into the madness to decide whether Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment falls into the ‘crime section’ or ‘literature A to Z’, before coming up dry in both and having to trek down to the feckin’ basement, to check the ‘classics sections’ – They are called “Classics!”, why are the always kept in the most inaccessible and hard to find spots in High Street bookshops? How does that make sense???
Especially when you’ve got Delia Ramsey (or whatever the TV chefs are called these days) up front, teaching you fourteen different ways to roast a Christmas dinner… I’ve never bought a cookbook, am I missing something? Is it really possible to roast a Turkey/Chicken/Goose (*quick shout out here to my beloved Grandparents and people of their generation) in enough different ways to justify a 30dollar book?
“I really want to read more,” is heard on countless lips. It’s Christmas, people splurge, books are considered great seasonal gifts – probably that silent exchange between the two parties, both of whom undoubtedly wish they read more, that compact which says, ‘this is a book about a man who ran around after an inflated piece of synthetic pigskin for 15 years… aren’t we clever for giving / receiving it’.
Then Christmas happens (again), the January sales kick off traditionally (on Christmas Eve) and the aforementioned books immediately become bargain bucket material€1.99, three for a fiver, whatever… and, insanely, sell a fraction of the copies they did when they were more than 10 times the prices (who’d buy a cheap sports bio…? If it’s cheap it’s obviously crap…Obviously), and the madness of the festive book shopper is over for another year…
…Well nearly. I’ll be seeing them again, most probably starting in February, they’ll be unwanted and barely thumped sports bios…celebrity gossip pieces…cookbooks and Brownonian thrillers, cluttering up the shelves of the Charity Shops I so love to search through for treasure.
That’s the thing with digging for gold, sometimes you have to sift through piles of shit before finding it.
And to think, only 48 shopping weeks until Christmas!