What are your views on Amazon? I have to admit to buying most of the books that I look out for (that would be yours then) there - there's only one dedicated SF bookshop in London (Forbidden Planet) (Murder One used to be brilliant but has stopped doing SF) - and FP seems to concentrate more on comics/TV+Film tieins - and also plays the most appalling music *way* too loud....
Even the big Waterstones/Borders shops don't have particularly good SF sections...
I know the only way to get this changed is to pester them - but I wonder if the whole SF market isn't going to move to specialist internet suppliers sooner or later!
P.S. Anyone in London - please support the Fantasy Centre on the Holloway Road - the best second hand bookshop I've ever seen....
I do not live in the UK, and so, I don't actually KNOW what you face - but I have heard frustration from the publishing end, that the "distributors" are not well supporting their efforts...that there is in fact a gap of frustration, between what's produced, and what's supported on the shelves for consumers.
The consumer IS the final line. If you fail to push for what you want, that gap cannot be reconciled.
Online sales may help this - but where will you browse for new material??? And how will new readers find things they haven't read before? This is the interesting question that must be "solved" - and how readers handle it - there lies the future.
If any one is looking for copies of books in the US, there are copies of lots of stuff [used] at Powells city of books in Portland, Oregon. and also saw some old copies [at least 5 of them] at the bookstore in the outlet mall of Seaside, Oregon. I can look up Phone numbers if you are interested.
I guess I'm in the lucky position that I can afford to buy books without actually seeing them in my hands - so I have been known to buy books recommended in the "people who bought the book you are just buying also bought" section...which is as likely to get to something i'll like as random browsing!
I think my biggest frustration at the moment is that you can't buy "single" books anymore - everything is the "first in a stunning new trilogy" etc. Don't get me wrong - I love WoLaS and wouldn't miss the rest of the series for the world...but there are a lot of authors whose books I see and end up thinking that they'd have been better with the story over 2 books rather than 3.
Amazon also has a 'Search Inside the Book' feature that publishers can use to have a number of pages from the beginning of the book included on Amazon's site. When this is done searches done on Amazon will actually use the text of the book.
I buy more and more on line simply because I can usually find what I'm looking for...Fantasy fiction is not "main stream"...and, yes, even in London you see the same books/authors in each shop...
However, browsing in shops/second hand shops for books means you stumble on books/authors you had forgotten about...the internet cannot find you stuff you have forgotten (yet...)
The forbidden planet has for many years (before the internet took off) been the place to find stuff in London...I often bought US imports to read books that had not yet been published in the UK.
I shall try to find the "Fantasy Centre" on the Holloway Road...been living in London since september...still finding my way aroud...
Just make sure you are not in a rush - and do make time to talk to the owner - what he doesn't know about SF+F probably isn't worth knowing!
Although it may be harder to "browse" on Amazon, I actually find it a lot easier, like a previous poster said, to be reminded of old favorites. I read so many books at my public library when I was a kid, and Amazon is the only place that has allowed me to track some of these old books down, either because they've been reissued but the bookstores don't carry them in large enough numbers for me to ever find them, or because people sell their used books there.
Also Amazon's recommendations have been shockingly good for me. From time to time I'll browse through books they recommend and buy some random selection of books and hope I get lucky. Nearly every one of these fishing expeditions has born fruit. In one case, I found an author who had something like 8 books out, but I'd only purchased the first book, in case it flopped. It turned out to be addictive and I tried to get the next one from a store, I was jonsing so badly for the next one I couldn't wait for shipping. I went to 4 stores and they carried a couple of copies of the book I already had and the latest of the series, but none of the middle titles.
Probably the best part about Amazon that cannot be argued is its unlimited shelf space. There are so many books competing for space in the brick and mortar stores, they really can't afford to devote much space to non-best selling authors or to books that are several years old, still in print, but never were stellar sellers. I'm so happy that there's a way for me to find these old books without having to comb all the used book stores on the penninsula. That's not to say that I don't still frequent these stores. Know Knew Books and Another Change of Hobbit have been vital to my quest for books I read long ago and would like to read again... but it was Amazon that came to my rescue in my completely nerdy and anal quest to find a hardcover edition of Curse of the Mistwraith. I scoured every used bookstore I came across and always faithfully checked for reissues or forgotten copies that ended up in the bargain bins at the big chains. And I was looking only a couple of years after the thing came out
I'm now using Amazon to identify SF/F books to buy and then going to Clarkesworld.com to buy 'em, thereby supporting an independent businessman.