This past fortnight I’ve been soooo busy with fireworks, quiznights, and tonight more fireworks, I’ve got behind on blogging about books and my stock of ephemera too even. Normal service will resume next week I hope! So meanwhile, I’d like to have a voxpop type discussion with you…

We all love ‘new’ books – titles hot off the press, piled high in bookshops on the 3 for 2 table, featured in the ever-decreasing review sections of papers etc, Richard & Judy picks, nominated for major prizes, what happens to a book when it moves out of company with the new. If it’s lucky, it’ll have two chances – in hardback, then paperback – but then it’s onto the dreaded backlist.

You hear many authors groan that once their books lose their shiny new book du jour status and go on to the publisher’s backlist, then it’s a slippery slope towards being deleted off the backlist for straggling sales, diminishing royalties – hence they’re only as good as their latest book.

One small section of my TBR!

Bookshops have limited shelfspace for backlisted titles and have to choose their stock carefully to keep sales going, and this is where I believe that bloggers and book groups really are playing their part. By not always reading the latest new best thing, and delving back into our TBR piles occasionally to read books that are a few years old or more, or even buying backlisted titles new, we are doing our bit to help.

Often book groups choose backlisted titles – usually preferring (ours does anyway) to opt for books once in paperback to keep the monthly expense down. Admittedly, we tend to stick to the backlists of better-known authors, but occasionally will pick something less well known or off the wall.

Many bloggers like to combine reading and writing about the latest titles, with exploring their TBR piles – and this can all help raise interest in living authors’ backlists. As a blogger with a TBR mountain range that’s now totally out of control, since it got my late Mum’s books added to it, exploring it will remain a key reading resolution for me for years to come!

The key thing for me is finding real gems in authors’ outputs that can be shared – there are so many good books out there from recent decades that are getting forgotten about.

Over to you – what do you think about backlists?

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