Full disclosure: I was able to get hold of a copy of the book in question. Would I be disappointed if I hadn’t got a copy? Probably. Would I still be so angry about the way people have been reacting on Twitter? Absolutely.
When Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff announced the Goldsboro Books special edition of Aurora Rising, I bet they thought it was a sweet deal. With its purple sprayed edges, it’s a gorgeous, limited printed run edition of the hotly anticipated book.
When a book is limited to 500 copies, you know you’re chancing your luck. Goldsboro ship worldwide and, when the authors are as high profile as this, there’s obviously going to be high level traffic wanting a copy.
So what, then, has made me so riled that I feel the need to rant?
The entitlement shown by some members of the bookish community in the last few days has been awful.
This book was always going to be in high demand so it was no surprise that the website crashed 10 minutes before the book was even on sale. What followed was horrible to watch.
Frustration. Anger. Entitlement.
Over a book.
A very pretty book. But a book. That’s going to be available for everyone to get some form of copy.
Let’s dive into the details.
The website went down at 11:50am – I know this because I had the website open from 11:30am.
Cue a b s o l u t e bedlam.
At first, the tweets were people asking Goldsboro if their website had stopped working… Duh, but at least it was jovial. There were jokes being made about the Illuminae Files books and people were just waiting to get on the site.
Then someone said they’d ordered by phone. A pretty standard thing to do, really. You can order almost anything over the phone. Theatre tickets, books, movie tickets, gig tickets. Box Offices still exist, people just don’t phone so often.
I get that this puts international folk at a disadvantage. It must charge a shedload to call the UK for a book, but that doesn’t mean that those who can, shouldn’t. I mean, if my gran wanted a copy she would have to phone because she doesn’t have internet?
This is when everyone lost their shit.
Cue Goldsboro staff being called incompetent, accused of not being fair, threatened with the revoking of custom, asking that people who phoned have their orders revoked?!. Simply because people wanted a book.
It’s absolutely not okay.
In 2011, the Booksellers Association reported that the number of independent bookstores fell from 1894 in 1995, to 1159 in 2011. That’s the equivalent of one independent bookstore closing every 13 days.
So we shouldn’t expect Goldsboro to be able to handle the amount of traffic generated by two powerhouse authors. Combined, Kaufman and Kristoff can “influence” around 114,000 people. Imagine if even one percent of those people wanted a Goldsboro book. Over half would leave disappointed.
We should be celebrating the fact that an independent bookstore has been able to get a book of such clout. That it can keep paying the rent prices of central London (the store is literally next to Leicester Square).
We should treasure small bookstores, not shit on them.
The entitlement that seems to be seeping into day to day interactions scares me. No one has the right to dictate who should and shouldn’t get a copy of a book (can you believe I’m still talking about a bloody book?). No one has the right to act personally wounded if they are not able to get a copy. Move on. The odds were against all of us to begin with.
I probably could’ve brushed off some of the criticism of Goldsboro, if I weren’t seeing this entitlement everywhere. What has emboldened people to be rude and confrontational about everything? The people who work, not just at Goldsboro, but in supermarkets, in call centres, in public facing jobs deserve our respect, not our insolence. Because those jobs are fucking soul destroying.
So, for those attacking Goldsboro: get your heads out of your ass. It’s a bloody book, for fuck’s sake.
Finally, and most importantly;
To all the fabulous folk at Goldsboro Books,
The past 24hrs have been rough. Your tech team will be tired, your front of house staff will be sick of hearing the phone ring, and you’ll likely have turned off your notifications because DAMN people are infuriating. So know one thing, Goldsboro Books:
You’ve done brilliantly.