It’s a hard old life for a writer. I get that (eight years of trying my ass off, I get it), but I do heave a little sigh when I see people caving in and dropping a guilt trip on their social media following.
I won’t labour on about “If you’ve ever enjoyed my tweets, then…” too much. They’re…your tweets. I mean there is something funny, insightful, or informative to be found on there every day but, really?
The real eyetwitch moment for me is the evergreen, “for the price of a fancy coffee, you could buy my book.”
I don’t get that equivalency. I just don’t. Where are you buying your fancy coffees that they’re so expensive? Where are you getting these books so cheap? (note: I have seen an example that ups it to coffee and a croissant, and another that opts for “hipster sandwich”, which is a whole other layer of social commentary – we congratulate one another over cool but ultimately unnecessary notebooks, but God forbid I want to treat myself to a sandwich that’s 90% horseradish and makes me SEE THROUGH TIME).
Is it because of the saturation of corporate fancy coffee places? I am painfully aware that my basic existence – smartphone and all – is propped up by a world of exploitation so vast that the building of the pyramids seems like small potatoes by comparison. My coffee cup will exist in landfill long beyond my lifetime. Are books published by mainstream publishers somehow less corporate? More responsible? What are you really telling me with your appeal to ditch the coffee and pick up a book? Am I really sticking it to the man, or am I just meant to imagine I am?
Or maybe it’s the experience of the book, so much deeper than the shallow, ephemeral nature of the coffee purchase. They get so cold, so fast, those fancy coffees. But then it’s a different kind of experience. When I’m not at home with the kids, I’m in the home-work-commute cycle. Why shouldn’t I choose to momentarily break free of it and shoot the shit for a couple of minutes with the part time barista who’s also a drummer and has a young family like mine? Is that less authentic than the escape a book offers?
I buy books. I buy coffee. They are separate and not equivalent things. I try to budget responsibly (and fail, mostly). I will happily throw people a signal boost. I will totally enthuse about a cool idea. I will review books when…honestly, I review books when I’m on Amazon looking for an ironing board cover or something and I see the sidebars stuffed with books and I think, “oh yeah I should do that”. I just don’t need to be told that I’m making the wrong choices, because it’s not a choice and there’s nothing wrong with a fancy coffee.*
*ANY fancy coffee. You want something that glows dayglo orange under a cap of whipped cream and sprinkles? Fucking GO FOR IT. Live your best life. I believe in you.