In my post of 4 November, I made the point that it's hard to write a book that will really generate massive enthusiasm in potential buyers. And this point was driven home to me with emphasis when I read an extract from a new book by Tim Phillips: Knock Off.
Knock Off deals with the manufacture and marketing of counterfeit goods within the UK, and you can read a good slice of it courtesy of a Times extract.
Out here in darkest Wiltshire we don't see a lot of counterfeit DVDs or clothes, but it seems that, if you were to go to a street market in one of the bigger cities, you would find that the stall-holders are selling little else.
The customers, of course, are queuing up for it. The latest Hollywood or Bollywood epic on DVD, two days after it opened in LA or Delhi? No problem, sir. That'll be £5. And if you want a piece of software which retails for £10,000, that will be no problem either. Just speak to the 11-year-old kid over there and place your order. Have a cup of coffee while he skips round the corner, finds the man with the CD copier (about the size of a kitchen pedal bin), burns off a copy, runs back with it, and asks you for £10.
The UK authorities who are supposed to deal with all this lack real power and lack the budget even to pay for weekend overtime; and weekends are when the trade flourishes.
But it is not our place -- not quite -- to worry about the film industry. Our business is books. And, apart from Harry Potter, who do we know, in the book world, whose books are so exciting that you could shift a couple of hundred knock-off copies in a Manchester street market on a Saturday afternoon? Even at half the price in Tesco?
And that's the real problem which faces the writer of today. Not what the TLS thinks.