Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Readers? Who Needs Them?

Well, all writers of course. But I sometimes think that one of the real reasons for writing books (or blogs, or newspaper articles) is to keep one’s readers at a distance: they can read one’s stuff, but surely one doesn’t have also to meet, face to face, one’s readers?

Here, the first heavy Autumn rains have arrived, so as I was sitting inside our local bookshop/café late yesterday evening, a group of customers came bouncing into the tiny space, sat down and ordered drinks. One of them (few customers show much interest in the fact that the place contains books as well as beer, ouzo, etc.) idly picked up a book from the counter-top display and began leafing through it. It happened to be one of my books, and as the proprietor served the drinks she said to the customer ‘And did you realize that the author himself is sitting right here at the bar?’ I cringed, and called the proprietor a number of things, of which the politest was ‘Traitor’. She said ‘But Simon, surely you should know that readers like to meet the writers of the books they’re reading?’ I said ‘Well, yes, I know, but have you considered whether or not the writers like to meet their readers?’

Fortunately this particular reader showed no interest whatever in me personally, but seemed quite interested in the book. That is as it should be.

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