People, in general, flinch at the thought of having to buy a book for general reading. Of course, I don’t mean all people: just the larger section of the universe. Now, I don’t mean it as a lament or gripe. It is just a fact we need to explore.
While we don’t mind whipping out 200 rupees for a plate of chilly chicken to go with our beer, or for a tumbler of frappe, or, say, for a game of bowling, we are not that forthcoming when it comes to books. Why is that?
Maybe, we know the taste of the food, the aroma of the coffee, and the excitement of a game of bowling so well that the prospect of getting another serving of it is exciting. Maybe, we have not been able to build the same appetite with books, in general (unless it’s a favourite author we follow).
This leaves writers angry : they complain about it in their tweets and posts. Their friends, who reply with stuff like,
‘I am so proud of you.’
‘Look forward to more of your books.’
don’t intend buying the books. Deep-inside, they are, actually happy for their friend, but the thought of having to buy the book is boring, tedious. There is just too much inertia. In addition, the fear that the book may not be a nice read, after all.
Then, writers turn to emotional blackmail, and try to induce guilt. In some cases that works. Let me give you an example from another area : sometimes, on my way to work, I see young kids with a framed photo of a God, placed on a salver, with some flowers adoring it. You are supposed to put some money there, else the guilt of having ignored God will plague you for the rest of the day. Then, there are more ambitious people who adorn an ox and walk it to your door, asking for donations. These tactics have a lot of punch in them.
I urge writers to develop some coaxing mechanisms on these lines. Just asking your friends to buy your books, or tagging random people to photos of your book is not going to work. You need to re-think your strategy.