I have a dilemma when it comes to second-hand bookshops. It’s daft, illogical, and perhaps even eco-unfriendly I know, but I worry that by buying a second-hand book I’m letting down its author, who will receive no payment from me for reading his or her work. Don’t get me wrong: I think second-hand bookshops are wonderful things, and where books are out of print they become invaluable repositories of civilisation and knowledge.
But where it’s an in-print book, I sometimes feel a bit bad that none of my money will head the author’s way.
Anyhow, this weekend, I found myself in the Oxfam bookshop in Brighton, browsing away, and I spotted an old and guilty pleasure – a Jeffrey Archer novel, one I hadn’t yet read. It’s perhaps shameful to admit it, but I do like reading Jeffrey Archer books. It’s not the books themselves that make this something I’m reluctant to admit to. I’m not saying they’re great literature, but I think they’re entertaining stories.
It’s more the man. Serial liar. Convicted perjurer. And most damning of all, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. (Just kidding on the last. After all is said and done, the Conservative Party is a mainstream political party committed to liberty, freedom and a healthy democracy, unlike say, the BNP. Or New Labour. No really, still kidding. Mostly.)
Anyhow, so there I am, browsing away, feeling vaguely guilty that the author of any book I might buy won’t get a penny from it, and then I see…
I think you can all see where I’m going here.