I come from the generation of teenagers that emerged just as the internet was becoming accessible. My first online connection at 16 was via telephone modem dial-up, meaning a file the size of an MP3 song would take the 30 minutes to download. It also cost you money for every minute you were connected. It’s now something we take for granted.
I also grew up in a place where my only source of books were the shelves in a small town Smiths or the library, both of which provided a good starting point but it took the reviews in SFX magazine to help me find what I liked as a 16 year old SF reader. Being able to order books to be delivered, thought Smiths charged me a £1 every time, meant I was a little wider read. Again, now knowing about the ‘right’ books, and having (relatively) cheap and ready access is something easily taken for granted.
I was one of the first wave of book bloggers to get publishers to take the idea of using passionate readers to promote books seriously. Up until then you had to be review for ‘traditional media’ and for me that started with poetry magazines before leaping ahead a few years to the student union newspaper (I went to uni later than my peers, which is a story for another time). In the middle (2000-2004) I had reviewed Tarot cards (another story for another time) for websites and had received review copies of products so it wasn’t impossible but it wasn’t something publishers did.
Now, of course, book bloggers are seen as an engaged community who are embraced by publishers to spread new, and recently republished, books into the hands of readers, so again it’s now taken for granted that there are such things as book bloggers.
I couldn’t now imagine a world without the internet, nor can I imagine a world without being able to download a book instantly (though I really should restrain myself as it’s way too convenient ) and I couldn’t imagine a world without a book blog. I have tried but I always find my way back.
I’ve run a few of them: NextRead.co.uk was the first; followed by GavReads.co.uk; with a sidetrack to NoClocksAllowed.com; and now I’m focused on CwtchBooks.com. It’s a kind of evolution of my thinking about book blogging. The first was to look ‘professional’ (remember it was the days of not being taken ‘seriously’), the second was more personal, the sideline was an attempt to widen the view of fantasy and science fiction, and Cwtch Books is going to be me occasionally inviting other readers to talk about books, as well as the usual reviews and comment pieces (something I’ve not done for ages). But mostly I’m aiming to be more relaxed and chatty about the books I’m surrounded by.
That’s a very long way of saying, officially, welcome to Cwtch Books. I hope you enjoy reading it.