The Red Book

Imagine this: your work is snapped up by an agent who says ‘bloody brilliant – 50 million copies right off the press – I’ll make sure they get distributed to all the car-boots and charity shops in the area asap…’ Would you look at your agent and think perhaps it would be time to sever your relationship? I pondered on this dichotomy as I picked a book at random from a dusty cardboard box of pre-loved books at a car boot recently, handed over my 50p and dropped the book into my bag for later reading. Whenever that would be. I forgot about it until emptying the bag a few days later and when time allowed, I would sit with a coffee and have a little look at it. Now I have of course, and can’t put it down. I’ve checked-out the author’s website and am ashamed to discover that he is a very well known writer, having burst on to the writing scene in 1991 (my god that seems like another century!      No, wait…) though at the time of my purchase I had never heard of him. But hey, I was busy in the ‘90’s with babies and nappies and whatnot, so reading never happened. Ever. And by the time it did resume it was usually to help with homework or to read a school report, so it’s not surprising that this particular author slipped under my radar.   Anyway, win-win for me, as I have discovered purely by chance a writer whose work I enjoy very much and will now hunt down and trap at my local library, and whose back catalogue will keep me going through the forthcoming winter nights. Is it a lose-lose for him though? All that effort put in to plotting and writing and editing, to end up in a dusty cardboard box at a car boot? For 50p? Although that 50p did go to support a local charity.  On balance however, I think that if a book I had written had been sold in the traditional way back then (and the book I bought is 16 years old though you’d never know it by the good condition) then made a reappearance at charity car boot, a little part of me would be pleased. Pleased because it hadn’t ended up in landfill, pleased because 16 years later it was still in existence, and pleased because two parties benefitted from its re-sale. I guess humans will never stop reading or writing or painting or drawing or singing or all those other creative endeavours our humanity enables us to do, which means we’ll always have books of one sort or another. One of my daughters commented recently about ‘that red book I used to have. The one with the picture of a rabbit popping out of a blue box. What happened to it?’ Red book? I queried. Blue box? I had to think long and hard, trawling through the memories of all the children’s books and toys that came and went (mostly to and from charity shops) and then I remembered. The Red Book. It was made of fabric, and the pages padded out with foam so it was soft and easy to get hold of. For a ten month old baby. Guess I must have been reading back in the ‘90’s after all then. The book must have stayed around a while until we moved on to more complex storylines and characters – a giraffe with a sore throat rings a bell – but I allowed myself a little smile. What a precious thing to have given my children: a love of books.

Donate your books to Oxfam


2 thoughts on “The Red Book

  1. ‘…your work is snapped up by an agent who says ‘bloody brilliant – 50 million copies right off the press’. Yes, that is exactly what I imagine, on a daily, if not hourly basis! However, if that 50 million were in a charity shop and car boot sale and people bought them and the book gave them pleasure – ’nuff said.


  2. Great post, Jacci. The wonderful thing is you have discovered a book and an author whose works you will now explore and that will help them via PLR etc. The “good” of your discovery gets passed around – eventually! Best to discover late than not at all! Hope you end up having many more happy finds…


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