Over the last few years since literary and book blogs have proliferated and started to attract attention, we humble bloggers who are here because we love books and wish to share our thoughts on our particular obsession, have come in for an awful lot of flak from people who really should know better. From some of the articles that have been written about the 'ill informed', 'amateur' and 'illiterate' bloggers you would have thought we were all a threat to the literary life of the nation. An enormous amount of this vituperation has come from book critics, in the larger papers, the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and others.
I have never ever been able to understand what caused all this angst. It is not as if I am going to be given the book page in any of the aforementioned papers and put them out of a job and, as these papers tend to review the same books as all the others, ie those with publicity and clout, books from smaller publishers tend to get overlooked and can never get any of these august critics to take a look at their offerings. This is where bloggers come into their own. As far as I am aware, most book bloggers read and review books totally unpaid. We have no axe to grind, no loyalty to a particular house, nobody telling us what we must read and must say...rather like a free house pub who can sell what beers he likes without a particular brewery breathing down its neck.
I receive a lot of review books from publishers which never fails to astonish and please me as I never ever thought when I started Random that anybody would think I was capable of producing a post that make any kind of difference whatsoever to the sales of a book. However, I have been assured to the contrary by large publishing houses as well as small which is a great boost to one's self esteem I can tell you.
This long preamble is by way of drawing to your notice another of the smaller publishers, Alma Books, who wrote to me the other day, along with other bloggers, offering a link to their website on their blog The Bloggerel, where their "editors, translators, authors and readers are sharing their views on books and on the publishing world. We love being involved in the literary blogging community and we would like to keep you aware of our latest news". Alma Books have launched a series of classics: Oneworld Classics some of which are familiar to me as I have seen these particular editions in the bookshops. It also appears that in 2007 they acquired the Calder Publications list and be republishing many of their titles which includes authors such as Duras, Ionesco and Robbe-Grillet. Do check out their catalogue here.
And without wishing to sound like a candidate for sainthood, I can assure you that when I receive a request such as I have received from Alma Books then I am more than happy to write about them on Random - they will send me a book to have a look at and if I like it, and mostly I do, then I will review it. If I don't like it, then I keep stumm as I always, but always remind myself that for every person who loathes a book there will be a reader out there who loves it.
I have had another lovely quiet relaxing day today reading books, thinking about them and writing this post. I am enjoying my retirement which gives me the time to do so, early days yet I know but fingers crossed this continues.
And the thud of another book hitting the door mat as the postman arrives is one of those pleasures that I hope continues for a long long time to come. Not that I am hinting or anything you understand........