Nothing is free

In touristy parts of India (a country I love, BTW), shopkeepers, and people hanging around hoping for a commission, sometimes hector passers-by, enticing them into nearby shops. Often, then to be browbeaten into buying something, perhaps a cheap-as-chips Kashmiri shawl (recently made in China). One technique used is to try reasoning with the prospective customer. ‘Come madam, come. LOOKING IS FREE’. Usually followed by a face-shoulder-hand gesture signalling, why not? – browsing does not constitute a commitment to buy anything.

Lots of people ‘fresh out of the rickshaw/taxi/bus/train/plane’ wander in. Others who have been previously mauled scurry past. The best response I ever saw was in Udaipur, when a weary-looking couple passed a particular vendor emboldened by the recent success of drawing in a fairly large group of Koreans. He left his usual spot and began walking with the pair.

‘Come, come!’ He gestured with his hands. ‘This is my shop, come. Have a look.’ He then uttered his oft-quoted maxim, ‘LOOKING IS FREE’.


One of the pair looked at the man, then responded with a firm, but weary tone, without breaking their slow, casual stride.

‘Nothing is free’.

It was said with such aplomb it stunned the seller into slack-jawed silence. The perfect response to his vexatious torment. No doubt within the hour he would conjure a quick-witted retort. But in that moment he was floored. The ringing quality of truth had chimed loud and clear. Nothing is free.

To that end, I have learned that giving away books is also not free. I imagined when I stood at my stall at the local fair with a sign offering a free raffle, there would be at least a steady stream of interested readers.


Personally, I always express a keen interest when I see the word free. Perhaps I should have charged. The stall raffling the giant woollen badger was doing a decent trade at £1 per ticket. Yet with my best efforts on the day, I  have managed (via the raffle) to give away only one book!! to an appreciative recipient.

I received the book, thanks very much!  Looking forward to reading it – I had a peek through and it looks interesting.

I’m actually reading ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman at the moment and the bits of your book which I peeked at remind me of the passages with the Mulefa in – they’re kind of like elephants and have their own ‘language’ they speak to each other in.  So I’m eager to see what your story is like!

Thank you for having the audacity to approach my stall and take a free ticket. Even more shocking, to then actually look on my site to see if you won. Good on ya.


Yup! It seems in order to give away my book I will have to buy more trust. Speculate to accumulate, or in my case, just keep speculating. So, another Goodreads giveaway will start on the 9th December and I shall continue to drip feed the world with my tome.

All images courtesy of Creative Commons


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