Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Sunday Salon -- My Current Reads and a Current Events Book Talk

Do I really have to go back to work tomorrow? I can't believe how quickly time goes by and how I never manage to accomplish my many goals!

I hope to get some reading in today. I am currently reading three books and listening to one on audio, which is some sort of record for me. Normally I read just one book at a time, but right now, I am enjoying a few different ones, which I think is the key to finishing books that aren't page turners but are still enjoyable. :)

I'm going to try to listen to more audio books this year at times when I can't read. (like when I'm driving) I don't know how well I'll do at this goal, though. There are two reasons for this.

1) My mind keeps wandering. That's okay when I'm listening to music, but it doesn't really work when listening to audio books. I keep having to hit the back button because I missed something.
2) It takes a lot longer to listen to an audio book than it does to read. I'm currently listening to Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I just saw the book at the bookstore and it looks like it might take an hour to read. So even though I can't actually read while I'm driving, it still feels like a waste of time. I don't know if that makes sense. I have another one to listen to after Coraline which might take me a month to get through. We'll see.

I'm also working through Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett. This is a book for the LOST books challenge and just goes to show what a television show that celebrates books can accomplish. I had never heard of Ivy Compton-Burnett before and now I'm reading this book! Have any of you read any of her books? The book was shown on screen in a season four episode, but hasn't been added to many of the major lists yet.

In addition to that, I'm halfway through The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. I plan to finish this one today and review it and the film by comparison this week sometime. It will fulfill one of my reads for War Through the Generations challenge(off to a great start!) and will by my January Buy One Book and Read It book.

And finally, I'm also reading The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams. This is a book for review and a little lighter than the others.

Now...I haven't brought up this very hot topic before on this blog and I'm a little hesitant to do so now. But why not? I'm interested in your input.

It all started with Buy Books for the Holidays.
My primary goal with that site was to encourage people to buy books as gifts. I really didn't care if they bought them at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or their local independent bookstore. I wanted to encourage them to buy books in the way that made sense for them. And then...the emails started. And the comments. Of Amazon and big box bookstore hate. I have to admit to feeling terribly discouraged. Just in case you don't know, I don't make my living in the book industry and blogging is a hobby. The other bloggers working on the blog came from all over the spectrum on this issue and had all different feelings about it. In fact, if I'm being totally honest, it dampened my enthusiasm for the project. (but no worries it will be ongoing.) Let me be clear...this was not all indie bookstores. We got some great support and were lucky enough to feature some great stores on the site...but those negative ones really just stick out. (Oh and not all the dissenters were bookstore owners, just people really passionate about local shopping)

So I have to admit to feeling a bit ticked off when I read this blog post. The truth of the matter is that not everyone can spend a lot of money on books. I try to buy new when possible. But not everyone can do that!!! And this lovely blogger (I just discovered her blog but she's got great style and I know I'm really going to enjoy it) was made to feel guilty for her bargain buys and then posting about it....but the truth is...I've seen tons of posts like this one before where bloggers post their bargain's an acceptable practice.

And then the very cool and snarky Michele of A Reader's Respite posted about the demise of independent bookstores blaming our need for instant gratification. I think there's truth to this, whether good or bad, who knows? But check out the post which instantly generated much discussion.

So where do you get your books? Do you feel guilty for not shopping at independent bookstores? Do you even have one nearby? (You can find out here) Do you buy used? Is it better to buy three books on Amazon brand new or one brand new book at the local store? Or should you just be using the library? (by the way, I hardly ever buy used off of Amazon because it is often just better to go ahead and buy new--I have PRIME) In fact, for terribly accurate scientific purposes I've included a few polls. Thanks for your input everyone! I hope by the way you can see that I support buying the way that makes sense FOR YOU.



J.C. Montgomery said...

So where do you get your books?
(1) Library Bookstore (2) Local bookstore (3) (4) Local Barnes & Noble. And yes, in that order.

Do you feel guilty for not shopping at independent bookstores?
I always go there after I've check the store at our library. And if it is a book I can wait for, I don't mind ordering it. There are very rare times I have not been able to wait.

Do you buy used?
I do, but only at the Library store as a majority of the proceeds benefits the Library which I use a lot. I feel in this way I am helping support an institution that supports me and the community in so many ways.

Is it better to buy three books on Amazon brand new or one brand new book at the local store?
The only time I've chosen to go the former is when I had a gift certificate and tried to get as much bang for the buck as I could. But otherwise, I really do prefer to give my money to someone local. But I always like to check with the library first. Always.

Anonymous said...

I tend to buy whenever there's a sale on, right now Whitcoulls has a 25% discount, which is a really good sale. Usually occurs at this time of year. For books I don't get impulsive about I go to my local library. I buy at both my independent store and anywhere else. It depends on budget and where I am at the time.
Regarding audio books, I know what you mean having to push replay, esp. while driving or preparing dinner. I borrow from the library but there's never anything up-to-date and buying them is expensive. Have a great year of reading.

Beth Kephart said...

What a thoughtful post—coming just after the NYT story on the impact of book sharing and book recycling on the publishing industry. As usual, there is no black and white. For me, because I am an author and I know how increasingly hard it is to publish stories primarily because of the decrease in book sales, I buy every book new, either at independents, at chains, or from Amazon. It's crazy and my tiny house doesn't know what to do with all this (in the past week or two, 15 new hardbacks have arrived). But it's my one vice, and I'm sticking to it. I end up taking many of the books to the local library when I am done, and donating them. Since most of what I buy is new releases, the libraries benefit from a new copy of a hot title. But that's just me, and I recognize that everyone must do what is right for them.

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

This is so interesting! I must admit I don't buy many new books at all. I am almost totally an exclusive user of library or used book shops. This is solely financial. But someday when money is not an issue, I will remember this post and support the book industry in a better way!

Anonymous said...

I am sincerely hoping that when I get out of grad school and find a job, I will earn enough money to be able to frequent regular bookstores and only buy new books. I don't think anything is wrong with buying from Amazon, though. I've been encouraged to do so by authors because they make the same amount of money from a purchase on Amazon and it's usually the cheapest place to buy hardcovers. I try my best to support my very favorite authors by doing that.

I do buy used, but I don't feel guilty for it because I only do so at charity bookshops and my money is supporting very good causes. Usually when I find an author I love, I will then buy more of their books new, so it evens out.

Anonymous said...

I've just started listening to audio books and so far it's working for me. My problem is finding the time to listen - we live in a compact suburb, so I spend very little time in my car. By the way, I knew of one indie bookstore here, but thanks to your post, I just found a second one. I can't wait to check it out!

Florinda said...

Thanks for the link to finding independent bookstores. I discovered that the closest one to me is 16 miles away. Well, there's actually one that's closer, but it's a specialty store for a specific genre. Actually, I noticed that most of the bookstores that came up in the search were specialty stores as opposed to general-interest ones, which was a interesting finding. That may be one reason I don't shop at indies very often, since I'm a general-interest reader...and truthfully, my favorite place to buy books is Borders. I'll buy from Amazon when I want a specific title, but I like to browse first, and I need to be able to look through the actual books when I do that.

Great questions, Amy.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with audiobooks. I really think I need the visual, but I'm going to give it another try. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of The Reader.

I buy most of my books online mostly due to the convenience and cheaper price. The closest independent store is in an expensive area and is EXPENSIVE. As far as bargain book sellers, I love them. I get where other people are coming from, but don't the bargain sellers give them free exposure as well? Those who can't afford their books at the big stores can read them. Is that any different than people reading library books?

Great post Amy!

Robin M said...

I can't do audiobooks. I end up tuning the story out, while doing whatever. I'm a visual person and need to see the words.

In regard to where I buy my books: everywhere. We have a used bookstore next to our business, so I'm there at least once a week. Also Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble. I post about my used book finds all the time. I see nothing wrong with buying used books. Where does it matter where someone buys their books? Especially when they blog reviews and give publicity to the author and the book. Doesn't that provide incentive to someone else who will go out and buy it - perhaps new, perhaps used. I have nothing to feel guilty about.

Great post Amy.

Shonda said...

It took me years to finally be able to listen to an audiobook. Last year was the first year for me to do so and I listened to 22 books! The key for me was to listen to young adult books or books that were not too "heavy". Although I prefer reading a book (there's something about holding a book in my hands), listening to an audiobook has helped me with my daily commute. And yes, I do agree with you. It does take me longer to listen to an audibook because I'm choosing to only listen to it in the car. The benefit of that is at the end of the month, I can add another 2-4 books to the list of books that I've read for that particular month. I hope you find whatever works for you.

Anonymous said...

I usually check out the books I read from the library. I think it's important to support my local libraries who carry a great selection. I get my books from many different sources: local thrift stores, Amazon, used bookstores, Borders, . .

Being a single mother, college student, and having five small readers in the house, I cannot afford to buy the 150+ books a year that I read or the 50+ books we check out every month new or from indie bookstores. I buy them where I can get them.

Amy, please don't let those negative people get you down. The only indie bookstores near my house are far, both are a hour drive away (I don't have a car,) and both are specialty stores: comic books and children's books. Great post, Amy!

RAnn said...

Another option you did not include was book swapping sites like paperback swap, bookmooch, swaptree, bookins etc.

I feel for the authors, publishers etc. but on the other hand, I know that I've been reading a lot more since I discovered book swapping and book reviewing. I'm one of those who can go through 2-3 books per week and at $10/book that's over $1000/year. I don't have that kind of money and frankly I read very few books that are worth keeping around for another read--if I had the space to store them.

I think the publishing/bookselling industry needs to look at other ways of monetizing books. Maybe some product placement in novels, or ads in between pages. Maybe book rental stores -- I don't know but the fact of the matter is that the internet is here to stay and the industry can either adapt or die.

Rae Ann said...

I am going to bypass the where-to-buy-books controverysy all together and talk about audio books. Have you been to It is a volunteer organization of public domain audio boods. Free! It totally rocks. I have listened to a bunch of books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise.

Alea said...

I feel slightly guilty for not buying new books for full price or shopping at independent bookstores but not enough to actually do so. I think of it this way, if I don't get some kind of discount or deal than I'd probably get all of my books from the library and never buy anything. So the better opinion for me is cheap books that are probably older and used! It's really hard for me to pay full price for anything when I know how to get it at a discount.

Dani In NC said...

Audiobooks: I spend 8 hours a day doing mindless data entry, so I have to listen to something. Usually I pick podcasts or music, but recently I turned to audiobooks. As someone else said, the key is to pick something light. In my case, I found that romances work for me. Sci-fi and fantasy, which I like, need too much concentration.

Book buying: I am a library gal. If my library doesn't have it, I suck it up and don't read it. In the past few years, I've only purchased books that my teenaged daughter needed for school. When I do buy a book, I go for Amazon. Even if I was tempted to support a local store by paying more, my husband would never go for it. In our house it is all about the bargain.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I wasn't happy about the comment made to her, either. But, I'm sure you read my response on the matter. There is a lot I can say on all of this, but what it comes down to, for me, is the GOLDEN RULE. I mean, really... if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all!

I just purchased The Reader and I am dying to see the movie! I'm doing it for Lit Flicks Challenge. Are you liking the book so far?

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Hi Amy. I don't know what it is with people, but obviously they haven't heard that old saying "if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all." I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with YET ANOTHER unpleasant backlash when you were trying to do something nice.

One other thing. I'll gladly buy at an indie bookstore if it is nearby (my closest is 45 minutes away) and reasonably priced. Otherwise I'll go to a Barnes & Noble, again if it is reasonably priced. HOWEVER, I bought a new hardcover book at Target last week for $16 that would have cost be $24 at BN. If the difference were just a few dollars, I'd have gone to BN. But an $8 difference?! That is just crazy.

Wendy said...

Thanks for a thoughtful post. And also the link to Molly's blog (she should NOT apologize!!!).

Here are my thoughts. I love to buy new, but I also buy at my local used bookstore (which I feel needs our support too!). When I lived near a good Independent Bookstore, I made a point of buying at least 1/2 my books from them. I also buy books from Powells on line. That said, I DO shop Amazon. I also accept a LOT of free books form publishers and authors...and I do not feel guilty about that because I also read them all and review them on my blog - so I market books FOR FREE for authors (even a bad or lukewarm review gives a book exposure it might not otherwise receive). I have yet to have an author come on my blog and scold me because I don't buy more new books!

I should also add - I'm a writer myself. Maybe someday I'll actually publish my novel. And if I do, I will just be thrilled people are reading it no matter the source!

Amy said...

J.C. Montgomery...I see you're a huge supporter of the library! :)

Joanne...I think it really does have to do with where we are at the time.

Beth..I buy a lot of new books myself and actually try to buy from lots of different places. I also don't have an independent bookstore closer than an hour away. There is a local used bookstore, but it's mostly romance which I don't read much.

SmallWorldatHome...the library is a great way of supporting the industry!

Meghan...we can only do what we afford. :) I guess when I have time to stop in at an indie store I do usually try to buy something, but that simply doesn't happen often.

Kathy..yay for you! I love getting the chance to check out new bookstores!

Amy said... a way, I see reading book blogs as browsing. I do still browse at Barnes and Noble (my closest bookstore) and Borders, but I have a strong familiarity with the books already.

Kristy..exactly. Personally, I would rather see someone reading a book than having it slip into oblivion. And I think online retailing has actually allowed people to find books that have gone out of print easier and have the chance to read them. too. I get books everywhere! Even on freecycle and no one is getting any money at all that way! :)

Shon...that's my hope! Thanks for the tip, the next book I plan to listen to is a lot different than Coraline.

Vasilly...I get books everywhere, too, I do think that we have lots of options and it has helped me discover many other books that way!

RAnn...well said! and I can't believe I forgot swapping sites!! (probably b/c I just barely signed up for one)

Rae Ann...thanks for the link!

Alea..maybe I'm crazy, but I actually enjoy reading about how people find their bargains and how well they did almost as much as reading about the books they found!

Dani...thanks for the tip re: audiobooks. Up next I have a mystery/thriller...hopefully that will work a bit better. As far as the library goes...using the library is great!

Sheri...loved both book and movie!!!! One of the best reads I've had in a long time. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Heather...I know. It's hard to justify spending that much money when you know you can get it cheaper someplace else and it's only going to take a few hours to read. My closest indie store is in an area I don't often go. I do shop rather frequently at Barnes & Noble, and sometimes at Borders. And very very often at Amazon.

Wendy, I agree re: used bookstores. If the one by me had more than romance I'd be there more often. Honestly I buy from a lot of places...Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, used, e-bay occasionally, Christian Book Distributors, my Christian bookstore, I even just placed an order with the Book Depository. And I think used books have given new life to the books.

Alea said...

Amy, I totally know what you mean! And it's a lot more fun to hunt down books and deals than waltz into a bookstore and slap down a ton of money for a book that's looking you right in the face!

Anonymous said...

I love a great bargain! I think in 2008 I only bought two books brand new but probably brought in about 200 books from my local thrift store and used library book sales. I don't see what's wrong with buying twenty books for the same price that I can buy a new one. The way I figure it, is that I read it, I blog about it, thousands of people see that post, I link over to Amazon AND Indiebound, and in my opinion more people will read and buy that book. I love giving old books a new home (recycling!) and supporting my local library with funds to purchase new books. If I had unlimited spending money, sure, I'd buy new. But in my case, I'd rather read something rather than nothing.

Anonymous said...

I live deep in the 'burbs, so it's nothing but big box stores around me. I do browse the library every now and then or get something from there on reserve. Only if I can't find a book locally do I go to Amazon.

Baltimore has an amazing independent store called Atomic Books, but its selection is rather eclectic.

Michele said...

First of all, thanks for the mention, Amy (that was so nice of you!).

I really didn't know it would stir things up so much. But that being said, hope I didn't present myself as being what I call an Indie Book Nazi (those people are out there!). Personally, most of my purchased books come from Amazon. But I also realize that's because I am quite possibly the world's most impatient person. :)

So I am going to stop feeling bad about that.

One thing though that, frankly, p*sses me off is to hear people criticize others for buying used books. In this economy, to be honest, we're lucky people are buying any books at all. If used is better on people's bankaccounts, then the rest of the world needs to shut up about that. That's probably why I got so hot around the collar with Molly's incident.

Okay, now you can see that not only do I not have patience, but I have a short fuse as well. Arghhh. Gonna have to work on those, LOL.

Thanks Amy!

Amy said...

Natasha...I agree. For some of us, it's simply not possible to buy all the books we read new. having said that, I bought way more than two new books. ;) I think bloggers are giving back by blogging the books we read.

yellojkt...thanks for the link to the store..I"ll check it out. (though I'm on the other side of the country)

Michele...oh I didn't think you were and yes, those people are out there and I know that full well! :) It's a good topic and I agree...let's be happy people are reading. ;)

Thomas said...

I am not sure where the closest independent book store is or even if there is one in the town that I live in.

I just find it so much easier to buy my books from amazon.

About the only books I will not be buying from amazon will be Andrew Peterson's next book or Shaun Groves book. I will buy them from their websites when they are released.


Ronnica said...

I have a friend who works at a local independent bookstore and I went by. They had very little, and nothing of interest to me.

I buy books on Amazon (the cheapest place for most things) or get them used on Paperback Swap. I actually really like that website because it allows me a place to get rid of my old books to someone who's actually interested in them rather than throw them or give them away.

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate hearing your thoughts.