During a most enjoyable excursion to the stunning Golden Gate section of the Free State over the weekend, one aspect filled me with depression. I took the opportunity to try and interest the owners of some local bookstores in stocking my novels, and the reaction was an instant and flat negative. The blunt opinion was that they have too many words and not enough pictures for modern youth.
In vain I mentioned books like Harry Potter. The reaction was that in such cases extraordinary luck had been followed by massive publicity, but that with current reading trends it was a phenomenon only likely to recur in the most scattered and limited instances. One bookseller mentioned an excellent children’s novel written by a local author – in five years, exactly two copies had been sold.
Daughter bought a book there for little granddaughter. She rather regretted it when, later, she discovered it contained gems like, ‘This is an dog’. It was probably, like so many today, mass-produced in China.
Is it true, though? Are Potter and perhaps Snickett the only books youngsters are likely to read these days before relapsing back into a fixation with TV, computer games, and cellphones? Should writers give up producing any sort of length or quality – or, better still, just give up full stop?