Image Credit: Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images (and the same goes for the video. I find Book Brush to be a very useful designing tool).
I make two book lists a year – one for a certain festival coming up in December (yes, Christmas, there I’ve said it!) and another for my birthday. Always great fun to get these together. It also means I’m easy to buy for (so that helps my better half). And I mix up my choice of format for books – paperback, Kindle, and sometimes audio.
I was that kid who couldn’t wait to open the book-shaped presents under the Christmas tree. I never worried that you can’t really disguise a book (unless you use loads of packaging). I just wanted to see what book was in there! I don’t recall writing a list of books out when I was a child but it is something I do now. (It makes ordering so much easier for a start).
Funnily enough, annuals didn’t feature a lot when I was growing up. Other books yes but not those. I made up for that later on when my family was younger and heavily into The Beano Annual. (You’re never too old to find out what Dennis the Menace or Minnie the Minx have been up to – so there!). And annuals still feature in my household now – we all love The Private Eye Annual.
Using Online Retailers to Create a Book List
As well as You Know Who being the obvious online retailer, there are other options. I use Hive often for ordering books (especially my own when I need stock) and the lovely thing here is 10% of my order goes to an independent book shop of my choice. I usually pick P&G Wells in Winchester for that. Hive email you to say when the parcel has been dispatched and you usually then get a second email from Royal Mail to say when exactly they’ll be delivering.
For a recent order, I was amused the post told me they would be with me between 10.51 am and 2.51 pm. I would’ve been happy if they’d told me they’d be delivering my parcel between 11 and 3! (Oh and before you ask they did turn up well within that oh-so-precise time slot!).
Bookshop.org does much the same. For print on demand books, you will often see a notice on the online retailers’ stores saying “Out of Stock”. Take no notice of that. All the online retailer has to do is put an order in, the books come in, they then go out to the customer.
It may take a few days more than You Know Who but that doesn’t bother me. Both of my flash fiction collections, and the anthologies I’ve had work in over the years, are print on demand. Practically every small publisher uses this as it is efficient, kinder to the environment, and cheaper. No printing out more than what is needed. No storage or distribution costs. Just postage and packing, which you’d expect).
Publishers will often enable you to buy directly from them. My publishers, Bridge House Publishing, now have their own online bookshop. Being able to sell directly to customers helps cut costs for them. The Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop gives a list of links for people to buy from too. See below (and no prizes for guessing why I chose this particular link).
So the great news here then is there are plenty of options for shopping around and creating your own book list. It doesn’t have to be all through You Know Who.
Starting a Book List
I like to start creating a book list in November for Christmas. Yes, relatively late, you might think but by this time the publishers have got their Christmas wares out there so I can see what’s going on. And it is no coincidence the publishers release so many books towards the year end. It is the big run-up to the busiest and most profitable time of year for them.
The plus side for readers is there is a lot of choice out there! For my birthday, I usually start a list about a month before it. Not so many new books out at that time of year but I’ve sometimes remembered the titles I wanted for Christmas but forgot to ask for them then so add them on to my birthday list instead. It helps having a spring birthday! I don’t have to wait too long for anything I’ve forgotten!
My book list usually consists of a new book out I like the sound of, another I’ve been after for ages (and have usually forgotten to put down in previous book lists), something lighthearted, and at this time of the year, I also ask for a new writers’ diary and The Friendship Book. My writers’ diary is a wonderful book. It gives prompts of different kinds, interesting articles, and plenty of space in which to write notes, draft ideas, as well as being able to keep a note of appointments, book events coming up and so on.
I will sometimes write blog posts for sites like Goodreads about my Top Ten Books etc and indeed have done so for Chandler’s Ford Today. Great fun to write and it makes me think more deeply about why I’ve chosen the books I have.
The Love of Books
This is something that cannot be encouraged too early. Yet equally if you come to appreciate books later in life, fine. Only regret there is not discovering them sooner, I think. I was lucky in that my late mother encouraged my love of reading. I’ve always appreciated that. And books are still, I think, the single best way of getting knowledge (facts, entertaining stories etc) from one person’s head into another. Books encourage imagination (and even more so if you try writing any).
So I hope you have a book list (or plan to have one). Do share your thoughts about what kind of books you would like to see on your list and don’t forget non-fiction. I do sometimes wonder if non-fiction is still considered a bit of a poor relation to fiction. It shouldn’t be. A well crafted non-fiction book will be every bit as entertaining as good fiction, should keep you gripped not to find out how it ends as with fiction, but to find out and increase your knowledge in an area you’re interested in.
And books are just fun. There is a book out there for everybody (and considerably more). It is a question of finding which ones suit you. And then it is list making time of course!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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