I love reading books. This in itself is pretty unremarkable. I am, after all, the editor-in-chief of two genre imprints, so it could be said that reading is what I do for living. But I don’t just do it for a living, I read all the time. I read on the bus on the way to work, I read on the loo (okay, maybe too much information for you) and I read before I go to sleep. My wife, Ali, said once “books are like oxygen to you,” and she’s absolutely spot on. Books play such an important part in my life that some of them stand out as milestones, marking important events. I can remember the book I was reading when I first started dating Ali – Light by M. John Harrison – the books I took on Honeymoon – The Talisman by Stephen King and The Prestige by Christopher Priest – and I remember the book that really made me want to be a writer, The Count of Eleven by Ramsey Campbell. And it’s not just the reading I love, it’s the article itself. I, Jonathan Oliver, will put my hand up and say that I am a paper fetishist. One of my favourite smells in the whole world is that of a second hand bookshop. There’s a certain warm cinnamony scent to old books and I love sticking my nose in and old volume and having a good sniff. (Okay, maybe we’re starting to border on the disturbing here). New books have their own special smell too, but the older the book generally the better its aroma. That’s why, despite the fact that I think e-books are an interesting development, they’ll never replace the actual book for me. I’m a collector, I like shelves heaving with paperbacks. I like the piles of books scattered around our house; they’re as much decoration to me as furniture or paintings. Books give a house a certain presence. Ever walked into a someone’s place to find they have absolutely no books anywhere? I always find that a bit unsettling myself. Almost like I’m in some kind of clinic or institution. You’ll always find me with a book in my pocket and if for some bizarre reason I’ve accidentally come out of the house without a book, I’ll feel as lost as Linus without his comfort blanket. So I suppose then it’s a good job that I do what I do, turning Word files into objet d’art, manufacturing artefacts to be enjoyed time and again, filling your shelves and mine.
Jonathan Oliver, Editor-in-Chief, Solaris Books/Abaddon Books.