Updated: Sep 15, 2021
We live and breathe books here at Hobeck Towers. Books are everywhere. They are in piles, on shelves, in boxes, by beds, in bathrooms and lying around randomly.
There are times when working for Hobeck entails opening boxes of books, piling books on the table, and pushing books into envelopes to be sent out to people who want to read books. That constitutes about 10% of the job. Sounds boring, but I love it. The ladies who work in our local post office (Paula, Sandra and the others) no longer ask me what I am sending. They know. They now ask me: 'So what is this one about?' (Today I told them: 'This one contains five ghost stories' and they replied with 'ooooh spooky'.)
As I sit here now typing this, I am surrounded by piles of books. To my immediate left is a pile of Genesis Inquiries by Olly Jarvis, ready to be sent out to various important people in the media tomorrow. They will get their books before the weekend. Our hope is that while they are sipping their posh coffees and lying in their Egyptian sheeted beds, they will think, 'What shall I read today? I know, some small publisher in Staffordshire sent me a little something this week, I might as well just dip my toes into that'. If they do, they will be hooked. We can but hope...
When I was a child I didn't know what I'd end up doing for a living (for a long time I assumed artist, like Van Gogh). I didn't then realise that I'd end up creating something I was already passionate about at the age of five - in one word - books.
One reason why I love my job, except for the piles, is that I get to converse with people every day who share my passion for these funny paper-and-ink objects. In my emails to authors, bloggers, reviewers, editors and designers I can drop in that I've just started reading Sluggie Bain and tell them how much I am loving it without fear of a reply coming back: 'you what?'. I can recommend We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker and know that there is a good chance they might actually pay attention and go forth and purchase my recommendation. I can bemoan the fact that I can't walk to the other side of the house without tripping over a pile of books and know that they will say something such as 'me too, it's a hard life, isn't it?' Are there people out there that don't obsess over books as much as 'we' do? Apparently, yes, there are.
I heard an interesting statistic on the radio today. The radio people told me, and the person reporting this seemed genuinely surprised by this fact, that 75% of British people declared recently to have read one book in the last twelve months. Isn't that amazing? I mean, ONE WHOLE BOOK!! I need to know, what are these people doing with their free time - while cooking, waiting in queues, in the bath, in a traffic jam, on the toilet? If they aren't reading, what do they do? What are the other 25% doing?
This leads me to assume that here at HT we are living in a bit of a bubble. We are surrounded by a minority of 'serious book people'. Perhaps there are a whole load of people out there who don't (yet) know the joy of the written word. Perhaps it should be part of my mission to change that, to spread the love of books.
If we can get one of the 75% 'I have read one book in a year' people passionate about books, and perhaps reading two books next year, then I will feel happy and I will feel that my job is done. Did I mention that We Begin At The End is brilliant? You MUST read it, if you are to read one book this year. Oh, and Sluggie Bain? Don't get me started on that. Oh, is that two books? Oops.