The power of communication

Word of mouth has long been a method of communication which many people like – it’s personal and direct. In the Information Age we have electronic word of mouth: a message, if it strikes the right chord, may ripple outwards, forwarded on and on. That certainly seems to be the case here as other people around the planet, from around the UK, Europe, America, Canada, Australia and others have been commenting (mostly in a supportive way, thank you).

My blog was something I ran for fun, for therapeutic value and because I enjoyed the fact I entertained some friends with it and made new friends via it. Small-scale and mostly read by friends and friends of friends and the occasional person who would come across it somehow – just another (darkly humorous) blog among many tens of thousands around the globe. Now it is being discussed for good or ill by a large number of people around the world – other bloggers, fellow booksellers (in and out of my former company), publishers, fellow reviewers and writers and even journalists.

Neil Gaiman has just discussed it on his journal – very nice to see he remembers me and the enjoyable events we’ve held together in Waterstone’s in Edinburgh (the very first one in our windowless basement, full to capacity, just after Neverwhere came out, years back when I still had hair. For the second one in a nice, Georgian restaurant I had to make up the fliers myself – another piece of promotion I undertook myself for a company event to make sure it went well and readers knew of it).

Jo Best has written a fine article on the online journal Silicon.Com here and Tim Richardson of online IT journal The Register has posted another article here. Martin Waller has written a short article on the City desk of the Times (thanks to Olly for the direct link and also for pointing out Jo Best’s article is also here on CNET). I’ve had some more enquiries this afternoon and will keep you all posted. I’d like to add, for the benefit of anyone who thinks I am just trying to extract some sort of vengeance that this could all have been avoided easily and that I am mostly being approached by journalists who have read of this on another blog or Boing Boing or in one case I was told the reporter heard of it via a writer who brought it to his attention, so I’m not muck-raking or mud-slinging here – people seem to want to know about what has happened.

It is good to see how many people, many of whom I have never met or heard from before, are offering me their best wishes and sharing their outrage. Right now I’m getting ready for a trip to the Job Centre for my interview, searching every site I can online for work and desperately hoping to sort something out before I hit a financial black hole (oddly enough I really didn’t plan out my finances, such as they are – bookselling, like retail, not being a big pay industry – around losing a job after eleven years at the start of the New Year. Bizarre Kafka-esque black comedy notions are running through my head and the timing, being suspended right before Xmas, adds an almost Dickensian flavour to the proceedings.

When I think on what may happen if I don’t get work quickly I feel physically sick with worry – the many offers of support so many of you have extended to me, along with the help and love of friends and family who have been wonderful throughout keeps picking me up when the black waves of despair break upon my shores. The late, great Douglas Adams once said you should always know where your towel is – if I may extend the earlier metaphor, my friends and loved ones have picked me up and towelled me down.