… and they are getting worse. Way way WAY back, in the 90s, when the stock for markets consisted of about 40 copies of that month’s Forum magazine and maybe a handful of erotic novels out of the review cupboard, I used to transport the lot around in a tatty sports holdall. Nearly pulled my own arm off a few times, but I was younger and stronger then (and liked the fact that regular lugging of the bag around seemed to help with my upper body strength to the extent I could impress various musicians by helping lug the amps to the van).Over the years I have,variously,made use of rucksacks,shopping trolleys and many a suitcase on wheels. I made many a vague, optimistic purchase without calculating size and weight ratios, so I fell over and hurt myself quite a lot (including, on one occasion, pulling the bag onto myself and falling backwards down an escalator, kicking wildly, with the thing on top of me.)
Thing is, books are heavy. Someone once told me that it’s a mistake to think of printed paper as just paper: ink has a weight of its own. The arguments about whether e-readers or physical books are better is fairly constant, of course, and I do own a Kindle and find it a useful way to make sure I have always got enough to read. But I sell physical books, and people do still seem to want to buy them.
I’ve lost count of the number of suitcases and trolleys I have killed. I’m particularly narked that the new wheeled case I bought to go to the Manchester Author Event last week shed a wheel on the way up there, particularly as it contained rather fewer books than I would normally take, as I was only selling my own work. (Yes, I will be taking it back to where I got it and a sharp word will be had with the shopkeeper.) I am accustomed to getting at least a year out of even a relatively cheap piece of luggage – are suitcases generally getting flimsier or something?
I expect that at least some readers are, at this point, wondering why I don’t just put the boxes of books into a car or a van. Well, I don’t drive – I was a terrible driver when I tried and in any case would always prefer the option of having a couple of pints, whether it’s a good selling day or a bad one. And, anyway, what about my carbon footprint?
I’m currently managing most things with the last new suitcase (also missing one wheel and with another hanging on by a thread) strapped to a metal luggage trolley, which at least gives me the opportunity for a bit of shibari practice. But I’m currently wondering whether the next step is either learning that spell that Hermione uses in the Deathly Hallows, or sourcing the sort of Luggage that Terry Pratchett once wrote about. Only I don’t want the carniverous variety.
Any and all suggestions as to future ways of getting a decent range of stock to the various markets and events would be very welcome, or at least not laughed at…