January 22, 2012

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: We Just Want to Read

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It's hard to be a reader these days. Well, if you've got the money to buy all the books you want, it's probably easier, but a two book a week habit is an expensive one. As Karen from Sassymonkey Reads pointed out earlier this week, her library enables hers. Her library saved her nearly $1400 last year. If it wasn't for her library would she have spend $1400 on books? I don't know about Karen but I wouldn't. I buy books, yes, but I wouldn't spend that amount on books every year. That's a mortgage payment.

Every week, I hear depressing news about reading. Library funds being cut, books being banned, publishers making it more difficult to borrow and share ebooks, changing public domain laws, book stores shrinking floor space for books. These last two weeks I read 2 pieces of news about publishers pulling audiobooks from Overdrive, the online library service. I use Overdrive for audiobooks a lot. I use audiobooks to expand my mind while doing mindless tasks. There's nothing intellectually stimulating about cleaning a toilet.

I can see why the publishers think this is a good idea. It's too easy to borrow now. We have the technology. We made it better. But, hear me out, is this a good idea? If the thinking is borrowers will convert to buyers, I think they are wrong. Not if the reader can't afford it. Not now anyway. If I could afford it, I would buy all the time. And maybe someday I will (after that mortgage is paid). But...by borrowing audio or paper books, I get to try out authors I wouldn't give a second glance. I might find a few I'm willing to buy when I have the money. I'm careful with my money. I don't throw it around willy-nilly. I don't take chances on authors whose work I'm unsure of. And...libraries buy books. They kinda need to.

A business should cultivate a culture where its customers will remain customers. If the alternative to borrowing means buying, there will be people who just won't read. They can't afford it. Take from someone who knows, once you get out of the habit of reading, it's hard to get back into it. You wouldn't think it now, but I went years without reading a book. I was "too busy." I got back into to it slowly. My library really helped me find authors I liked and whose books I ended up buying. 

There are already so many people yelling that no one reads any more and that the book is dead. Why pull the plug on readers?


Anyway enough cranky.

Speaking of audiobooks, I listened to A Far Cry from Kensington this week. It was interesting. I'll have to gather my thoughts on that one. I also started Quiet by Susan Cain and it's giving me a lot to think about. I also won Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison on Twitter. Should be interesting.

funny pictures - The internet


Did everyone hear about the SOPA blackout this week? Here's Salty Ink's take on it and pretty much how I feel too.

24 comments :

  1. News like this both depress and upset me. Do publishers really think this will save their business model? OR, like you said, promote the literary culture they need to be able to survive? It's so short-sighted.

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    1. Erm, that was supposed to be "depress and annoy me".

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  2. I absolutely agree that the library is perfect for trying out new authors. I'm trying to be much more careful about the books I purchase, partly because of money but also because of space, and I often go out and buy books after I'd borrowed them from the library. Or I'll borrow a book from the library and then go out and buy the author's next book. Taking books--whether audiobooks or e-books--out of libraries means losing potential *future* buyers. Short-sighted, as you say.

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    1. Seems that readers are a cautious bunch!

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  3. I don't use the library as often as I'd like. They have minimal ebooks available and the wait for new books is so long, they also don't have a lot of lesser known authors. I spend a lot on ebooks but I don't go to movies or out to dinner and since i don't drink coffee, i don't get those daily $4 lattes. So it evens out. since ebooks are usually cheaper, I'm more likely to take a chance on those lesser known authors.

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    1. I've been fortunate enough to have a good library nearby. It's much better than my book store.

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  4. My library sucks, so there's no such thing as an audio download (or a book download, or a graphic novel, for that matter) available and I do end up buying most everything. However . . . I have a strict budget and it has always impacted *how* I buy. I generally wait for books to get old and show up used, cheap or as swaps. You do what you have to do. I'm with Nymeth. I think news like that's depressing. And, I do think library patrons are less likely to buy, in general. So, it's unlikely that sales will go up. I hope that's a trend that will reverse itself.

    I loved A Far Cry From Kensington. It's probably been 15 or 20 years since I read it. And, I happen to have an old, rather tatty old copy of Rose: My Years in Service. Now that it's been recommended as good reading material for Downton Abbey viewers who want more, I'll likely pick it up off the shelf sooner. Has it been reprinted?

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    1. Yes, Penguin has reprinted Rose. Probably because of the Downton Abbey craze.

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    2. Probably so! I'm seeing it recommended all over the place on lists for Downton Abbey viewers.

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  5. I could never buy everything that I read. I would never be able to afford it... I need the library and review copies to explore more and then when I love the author, they move to my 'buy' list. So, it is really a win.

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    1. I never would have read Sarah Waters if not for the library. I also head there for authors I've never read before.

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  6. I definitely cannot afford to buy all the books I read through my library! I have often moved from library reads to bought reads though for authors who I possibly wouldn't have taken the chance on.

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    1. Me too! And discovered ones I'd wouldn't read again too. lol!

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  7. I gave up buying books about five years ago when my bookshelves were filled to overbusting. I use the library, which here (in NZ) is free and get through a couple of books a week.

    I gave in a couple of months ago and got a kindle and have bought about 20 books for it, but will still carry on using the library, as I can't afford to buy any more books. Groceries and rent come first.

    The economic choice was made for me too when the price of books effectively doubled in the past ten years. New releases here are about $30 (US) as they come in large trade paperback size. I was checking out a new release I liked this weekend, and could buy the same book for my Kindle for $8 US, or wait to get it at the library for free.

    Julie Q

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    1. Space is another reason why I go there. My shelves are too full!

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  8. I absolutely could not afford to spend an additional $1400 a year on books. Nope, not happening. I do spend several hundred dollars a year on books but no where close to my library savings. I would spend more buying books if I didn't have a library but I just plain wouldn't read as many books.

    The library does convert new authors into book purchases. The Pink Carnation series is an excellent example of that. I read the first few books courtesy of the library and now own every single book. In hard cover. There are now 10 or 11 books and it's still going and I'll continue to buy them in hardcover.

    But it doesn't quite hold true the same way for audio books. I also first encountered Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books as library audio books - I believe they are Brilliance Audio but I'm not certain. I did end up buying them but not the audiobooks. I have a mix of paperback and hard covers.

    I'd try out a lot fewer new authors without the library.

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    1. I would buy the paper versions of audiobooks I love. I like listening to audio but for keepers I like paper.

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  9. As much as I love books and reading, I will never spend a lot of money doing so. I buy books, but I only buy ones that have special meaning to me or ones that I am unable to get some other way.

    For one, I read a book too quickly to get my money's worth. Seriously, $15 for a PB and $28-$35 for hardback and then it only takes me 1-3 days to read? Seems like a total waste of money.

    I tend to check out a lot of books from the library but if I come across an author I love (like Murakami) then I slowly buy his backlist.

    I hope they do not remove Audio books from Overdrive.

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    1. Books are more expensive in Canada too so I'm going to make sure it's worth it.

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  10. It's an interesting time to be a reader for sure. I don't know that I ever foresaw the type of growing pains we're going through now with such quickly rising technology. I just kinda always thought reading would be reading. Not so much! Great post, Chris!

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    1. Things are changing very fast but a book and a comfy chair on a rainy day are always going to be my way to unwind.

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  11. I rarely buy books. I borrow books and ebooks from the Toronto Library. I live in a small condo and don't have a lot of space.

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  12. Chris, I definitely agree with you. Being a college student there's not a lot of money hanging around my house to spend on books. Yes, I'll sacrifice things I personally need to buy a book or two but I've stopped going out of my way to buy a book by an author whose work I haven't read. When I read a book and love it and know that I will reread it one day, sooner or later I buy a copy of it. I can't do that with every book and publishers are being unrealistic if they think that most readers can spend as much money as they want on books. Publishers need to quit seeing libraries and librarians as the enemy as see them as the great aid they are.

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