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Monday, August 30, 2010

Deciding What to Read and How to Read It

Even though many of us have a mile high stack of to-be-read books, we will look for new ones. At least I do. I will go so far as to say I have an addiction to print books. I don’t think there is any such thing as having too many books and have a sweatshirt that says that exact thing, given to me by someone who knows me very well. However, how we go about finding new books and authors is changing, almost daily.

When I was younger there was no internet and we went about getting books the old fashioned way – searching at a book store. Some made use of the library (and still do). I am not a library person. I am not saying there is anything wrong with libraries because they are wonderful, exciting places. The problem is me, and not getting books back on time. I tried one year to save money and read only library books. I am not sure I saved all that much after the fines were paid. My friend, on the other hand, reads only library books, finishes them in a timely manner, and gets them back when due. I envy that in her. I’ve tried to be like that, I really have, but I guess I am not organized enough.

So, since borrowing from the library is out, stores were the next best option. There used to be two in the mall, and five more that were part of various strip malls within close driving distance. The last mall bookstore closed two years ago and a local Christian bookstore closed, then reopened last year under new ownership. The rest are gone, but there is a B&N down the road, and Borders a little further away. While it was sad to see the others go, I am glad for the B&N, Borders and the one remaining Christian bookstore. There is also a used bookstore that carriers new releases written by local authors. I love this store too. (Note: I’ve never met a bookstore I didn’t love).

The bookstore as we know it began to change when the B&N’s and Borders came to be, which is not news to anyone who reads. But, as the B&N and Borders were growing the internet became more popular and Amazon was discovered by billions, and readers had new options for finding and purchasing books (among other products). I’ve been to Amazon often and don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve probably spent over the years. Have I mentioned my addiction? Where it used to be only paperback and hardback books were available, now you can purchase new or used, paperback, hardback, e-book and audio. Ever option is available for most of the books. I’ve recently added audio books to my reading preferences. Since I seem to be spending more and more time on the go, I love having a book waiting for me in the CD player in my car and I don’t take a road trip without one ready to go and another waiting to be “read”. At home, I still rely on the old-fashioned way of reading – paper.

E-readers are becoming more and more popular, and I can understand the draw, but I don’t own one and don’t see myself purchasing one in the near future. It goes back to holding that paper product in my hand and cracking the binding for the first time when I open the book to discovery a new world and meet new characters. And, an e-reader cannot replace my audio books (at least to my knowledge).

Readers now can discover new authors and genres through websites and blogs, instead of searching the bookshelves for that wonderful find. This is great for all authors out there, especially those who are with the smaller publishers who aren’t granted shelf space in the larger bookstores or those who are with publishers who only e-publish.

But, with all of the technology the bookstore as we know is disappearing and this makes me very sad. I have heard that Border’s is suffering and now I read an article that Amazon may be purchasing B&N. What will that mean for the store? Will the day come that there are no more bookstores? The idea is too scary to contemplate, at least for me.

One of my favorite outings is going into one of my local bookstores and searching the many shelves for interesting books. After I have my stack, I wander into the café, order a calorie filled coffee drink and spend some relaxation time reading first chapters and such before I decide which ones I am going to purchase. My husband and kids often accompany me on these trips and we split up the moment we were inside because none of us like the same thing. But, we meet back in the café, all with books in our arms and talk about why we are drawn to the books we are considering. I love these trips and I really hope the bookstore doesn’t become extinct because trying to choose my next reading material on the internet, by myself, with a generic cup of black coffee is just not the same.

Do you own an e-reader and how do you prefer it over paper? Do you still frequent bookstores or do you prefer the internet? How do you discover new authors and books? Is it still that trusted friend or do blogs have equal influence? I am very curious as to the trends of the readers out there. I can read all about what the industry sees happening, but how do you, as a reader, decide what to read and how to read it?

Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency


  1. Great blog, Amy.

    Like you, I have always been addicted to books.

    My TBR and keeper shelves used to be a sore point with my husband who hates the clutter. But he bought me a Kindle a few months ago and that has pretty much ended that debate.

    I love that I can download a book anywhere whether in the airport or in the mountains where there is no other internet. I love that if I finish a book in the middle of the night, there's no need to sleep, I can simply download the author's backlist and keep reading.

    So far I have mostly read big names that I would have bought anyway. But I have won a few free ebooks from debut authors online. If I like them, I'll buy their books in the future.

    The downsides? I can't find a lot of the old authors or foreign language authors that I like to read. (Mohamed Dib for example)
    And the Kindle hurts a lot more than a book if you fall asleep and drop it on your head. :)

  2. I don't have an ereader yet but I am getting a Kindle as soon as I can. I did d/l kindle for the pc and I love to sit on my porch and read. But I do still love to buy a book from a bookstore. There is just nothing quite like it. I think there will always be some kind of bookstore. At least I hope so.

    Though I am looking forward to having an ereader as well. Hopefully soon.

  3. Great post, Amy, and very poignant in today's climate. I, like you, have always loved books. I used to do the same thing at B&N - collect books from the shelves and take them to the cafe to browse their first chapters. However, we moved a couple years ago, and it's not quite as easy to get to a bookstore as it used to be. Add to that becoming a mom and attempting to have a career as a writer, and I don't have any time to read at all, let alone spend a leisurely Wednesday afternoon wandering Barnes and Noble. Part of me is sad about this - it was such a fun, relaxing activity - but the other part of me knows my life rocks now and I wouldn't trade it just to have B&N in closer proximity :)

    And ever since my iPad arrived in the mail, I don't miss paper books one bit. It's such a beautiful way to read books, and I can read them in the middle of the night without turning the lights on and disturbing the hubby. Oh, and there is of course instant gratification. I hear about a book or see a recommendation on Facebook and I don't have to wait until the next time I'm at the bookstore to start reading it...I just pop on and download it.

    The other great thing is that you can get free samples of any book...loooong samples! So just download a bunch of samples and head to Starbucks! LOL!

    I do have to agree with Clarissa, though. Hubby has dropped the iPad on my head quite a few times and it hurts way worse than a paper book. LOL!

  4. I too read print, but do love online blogging and news sites to read. Bookstores are the best or any stores with books for sale. Especially children's books as I love to buy them for my grandkids. Now I am writing them for my grands...

  5. I haven't bought an e-reader yet -- I'm waiting until the dust settles and since new ones keep popping up every day, it looks like I can wait a while longer.

    I like browsing in bookstores, and it's an activity I hope I don't have to give up. I've discovered some favorite authors by picking up a book that intrigued me in the store.

    I also discover a lot of authors via the Borders blog, so that's a great source of info. :)


  6. I have an e-reader but still buy a good share of paperback books. I usually buy online because of convenience. It's hard to drag the kidlet to a bookstore and "linger". :)

  7. Good heavens, Amy! I cannot believe that picture! :)

  8. Wow, it is interesting to read the responses from everyone and how they like to read and shop for books.

    I've also learned that eletronic reading material can be painful when falling asleep or when husbands are using them so I will have to really think about buying one - weighing the convenience against potential injury :).

    Lin, I think it is great you are writing for the grandkids.

    Donna, I hope neither one of us have to go without our bookstores. That would be too sad to contemplate.

    Jennifer, eventually the kidlet will enjoy the store as much as you do. As soon as my children discovered reading for themselves I couldn't keep them out of the children's section. That is when they all started getting bookstore gift cards in their stockings at Christmas.

    As for Lydia, it was the bright blue walls, wasn't it? I haven't painted since the son vacated and I moved in. Or was it because Tall Dark and Wolfish was in the middle of the stack instead of at the top ;) - lol.

  9. I've never met a bookstore I didn't love either, so much so that our sons threatened to hate them because their parents spent too long inside. I haven't got an ereader but I did download a kindle to my computer so I can read kindle books, though I much prefer paper. As to how that to-read list grows, it seems to be fairly random but definitely fed by the internet. When I see a book by someone I've read about, I'm far more likely to pick it up. And picking it up is a definite prerequisite to buying it. I share favorites with friends too, and they direct me to authors they like.

  10. Don't crack the spine on a book !!!!! - you have to tease the pages open. LOL. Sorry - I'm obsessive about spine health!

    I read a lot, both in print and in ebook format. I love them both equally. Ebooks are easy to purchase, easy to read - I used to read on my phone but now I'm in iPad heaven. But there is still a delay in obtaining those wonderful new releases when you live in another (non US) part of the world. Authors push for simultaneous print and ebook release in your contracts and save us ebook preferring Australian's from unnecessary anguish!