Do you actively seek backlist books?

Do you automatically read an author’s backlist if you’ve enjoyed one (or more) of their books? I’ve been pondering this question lately as I try to read more of the books I feel like reading and bring down the number of TBR books on my bookshelf.

Once, if you enjoyed an author, it was practically a quest to get his or her backlist. You had to scout multiple bookshops, sometimes in multiple cities and occasionally in multiple countries. It took devotion, determination and patience. While it wasn’t too bad if the author only had a couple of other books or was local/super popular in your area, for authors that had been writing for decades before you discovered them, it was a Big Job. One of the latter authors for me was Penny Vincenzi, where I finally found a copy of Old Sins (originally published 1989) in Kinokuniya, Singapore.

Probably now you’re wondering why I haven’t heard of e-books or the library?

Well, my local library is not too brilliant when it comes to fiction (think rows of Catherine Cookson and Danielle Steel, who I have nothing against but that’s what gets borrowed). Plus, there was a time when there was no Kindle store in Australia and e-books were limited. (You still can’t buy Penny’s Glimpses in the Kindle store or in paperback – I just checked).

But now, the game has changed and you can get access to almost any book, at any time. Bought the second book in a series by accident and it’s 3am on a public holiday? No worries, an e-book can help you out. Desperate to have the backlist in matching covers? Hop online and it can be yours in a few days or weeks, depending on how much you will pay for shipping.

Go into a bookstore? There are good odds that you won’t find that book published ten years ago unless it’s being made into a movie or there’s an anniversary edition available. There aren’t too many bookstores way out West (in fact, I know of two off the top of my head that have closed recently). I understand that they need to make a profit (and I want them to, and I’ll happily support them to!) but the majority of the books available are new releases, in larger size or smaller size. Perhaps the internet is part of this – FOMO on that new book, the buzz, the social media and yes, the blogs too. Perhaps it’s the craving for something new, something exciting. Some bookshops are an exception to this (and all I’ve asked to order something in have only been too happy to). But searching out a backlist in hard copy has become a quest again.

It’s a quest I’m happy to take on because if I love an author, I will seek them out. I want to have their books proudly displayed on my shelf so that people can ask about them and I can lend them out to share the love. Showing people on a Kindle just doesn’t have the same feel (plus you can’t lend them)!

What about you? Do you crave a backlist title instantly? Or do you seek to serendipitously find the book in the wild?


6 thoughts on “Do you actively seek backlist books?

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  1. Ye I do like looking up other books for certain authors but with so many books to read, I only do it now and again fi I really love a book. I have done it for Kate Morton and will continue to buy anything she writes, she is quite a famous author so it’s easy to get a hold of her books. Great post 🙂

  2. Searching for books in an author’s backlist is part of my enjoyment of reading and can be very challenging at times depending on the author and the age of the book. Fortunately, my local library is an asset. It allows me to borrow books from other libraries in my state and I’ve found lots of gems in “The Stacks”. Technology has certainly made it easier to track down titles, but it will never replace the excitement of a chance discovery in a bricks-and-mortar second-hand book shop!

  3. I hadn’t given much thought to this. However I am very guilty of searching out authors backlists. Two that spring to mind are Louise Penny and Dana Stabenow. I even enlisted family help to find these. Thanks family.

  4. The trouble is I keep on finding great new authors, and I am a swinging reader and don’t like to read their books in a row, so I try to read one of each at a time, and then I discover new ones, and never get to catch up. It’s a struggle to keep up. I also like books in a series, but there are not too many authors who write in a series any more, which is a shame 😒 I am enjoying Jeffrey Archers Clifton Chronicles series at the moment though, the last book coming out later this year. Do you like reading series?

  5. Luckily I work in a bookshop & order in my backlist loves as soon as the urge hits me. This week I’ve been sourcing Graham Swift’s backlist:-)

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