An Amusement

September 22nd, 2005 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

We are cheap and we are easy. Not necessarily in that order. Thus we derived more pleasure than normal from Ian McEwan’s short essay on the travails of giving away free books. Yes, yes, we know, who wouldn’t want a free book?

Men, as it turns out:

The guys were a different proposition. They frowned in suspicion, or distaste. When they were assured they would not have to part with their money, they still could not be persuaded. “Nah, nah. Not for me. Thanks mate, but no.” Only one sensitive male soul was tempted.

McEwan touches on the notion that the rise of the novel coincided with the rise of female literacy (which coincided with the rise of upper/middle class lives of leisure, in a manner of speaking), describing the novel and its exploration of emotional nuances as a particularly female form.

That, plus saving on book purchases means more money for shoes.

File Under: Square Pegs

2 responses so far ↓

  • Malcolm Campbell // Sep 29, 2005 at 8:04 am

    Somebody needs to try an experiment. Stand on a street corner with a stack of books everyone’s heard of and see how many men and women are willing to take away a free copy: “Hello, I’m giving away new copies of Dan Brown’s books” or “Hello, I’ve got 20 copies of the latest Gabaldon book ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’: would you like one?”

    Books that nobody’s heard of are not only hard to sell, they’re harder to give away. Most folks want Oprah’s stamp of approval and/or a notarized copy of the NYT bestseller list before they’ll buy.

  • Booksquare // Sep 29, 2005 at 8:14 am

    This is true, though possibly Gabaldon isn’t the best choice. She’s quite popular with a large segment of women (and more than a few men).

    I think people do tend toward name recognition. Titles need lots and lots of repetition before they permeate the public consciousness. Especially since so many books are released. I’m all for adventurous reading but have to be honest with myself — many books require incredibly intense brain time. If I’ve been chairing meetings and analyzing information all day with a minimum of two hours’ commuting involved, then I have to allow my mind a period of recovery. I’m going to pick up a book that falls within a certain comfort zone. An Oprah label tells me certain information about a book, a NYT label tells me something entirely different. It’s not quite detailed analysis, but at least I have guidelines out there.