Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's one of those activities peculiar to authors, like googling your own name, or obsessively checking your Amazon sales ranking. I'm talking about spending your time riding the train or tube, while desperately hoping to see someone to reading your book. The same urge overtakes an author who finds himself in an airport lounge or on a long-haul flight, surrounded by people holding up copies of the latest John Grisham or 'The Da Vinci Code'. Surely someone, somewhere, must be reading one of my books?

Personally, I have never yet had the satisfaction of seeing one of my readers in action. But then, I shy away from travelling on the Tube like a man invited to enjoy the delights of Hell.

Now along comes Canadian blogger Julie Wilson with a fascinating project called 'Seen Reading'. This apparently involves Julie herself travelling on the public transport system of Toronto, and randomly seizing on a reading passenger to feature on her blog. She describes it as a "literary voyeurism blog".

I assume this is all done anonymously, or some of the readers might object to their description. I stumbled across Julie's blog purely because today's victim, er... chosen reader is "Caucasian woman, late 50s, with short blonde hair, wearing tan overcoat, large glasses, and purple hat with wide brim", who was seen reading SCARED TO LIVE on the westbound train between Bloor and Castle Frank.

Thanks to Julie's sighting, I now know that Cooper & Fry readers actually do exist, somewhere out there in the wild, and are not some mythical species like the yeti.


  1. You must know that people buy them, and some of us certainly read them. I added my own piece of evidence to a post I had just written when I came across this one :)

  2. Hey Stephen,

    This is lovely! Thanks so much for posting. And, similar to your query, I often wonder if authors notice that I'm seeing people reading their books. To that end, you're one of a handful who have satisfied my curiosity. And, while I do credit myself as a literary voyeur — and publishing professional — I've received umpteen emails from readers wishing to be "seen," further evidence that I suspect people who read in public are comfortable exhibitionists. It's all quite cyclical and very much fun!

    Thanks for posting! Cheer!

  3. Great picture, Dorte! :)

    And 'hey' to you, Julie. Thanks for dropping by. Very interesting idea that you had for 'Seen Reading' - though I can't help thinking you'd only get away with it in laid-back Toronto. Over here in paranoid London, you'd likely be arrested.

    Now, Dorte has reminded me that I have a terrific picture somewhere that a reader sent me. I'm going off to dig it out...

  4. I should obviously have seated myself right in front of you in Bristol last June, since my reading material that weekend was One Last Breath. We talked about it, but I suppose you just didn't see me 'in action'.

    Or does reading at CrimeFest not count?

  5. Well, bookwitch, I'm just going to have to stalk you and see if I can catch you doing it again.... ;)

  6. I'll email you when I start...