Unlike many writer-bloggers, I’m not a voracious book-a-holic. Sure, I love reading and I love finding new plots, but when term starts, I have to cull how much I read. Why? Because I’ve realised, in recent years, that if I like a book, it will linger in the forefront of my mind non-stop. Not what I need when I have to write essays and lab reports weekly. I fiction (yes, I just made that a verb) and do a whole bunch of extra-curricular stuff already. I don’t need more distraction from my studies.
But, sometimes, just sometimes, books won’t leave me alone so easily.
Once upon time (started every rejected story…), people looking for something new to read ducked into bookshops and headed for their favourite set of shelves – romance, fantasy or crime – and leafed a book with a pretty cover from its place, read the blurb, maybe settled into a nearby comfy armchair to read as much as they had time to read if the books intrigued that far.
Of course, nowadays the allure is different. I rarely go to bookstores unless they’re in walking distance or I happen to be in town with time to spare (time? what is this strange word?). Instead, to get my fix, I rely on Amazon – and, yes, I use both the UK site and the US site.
The problem with using Kindle and the Amazon snippets function is that you are indeed restricted by the immateriality of the ebook. I’ve nothing against not being able to hold a book when reading it, but I’d like to be able to see what I’m buying – apart from numbers of pages, ebook samples give no evidence to how ‘big’ the book is. Yes, I know it’s meant to be about the writing and the writing alone, but I can’t help making my decision to buy a book in part by its physical size and accessibility.
Another thing… Am I the only one who likes being able to rifle through the book I might buy, catching all chapter titles and little secret ideas, etc? Ebook samples are so selective; what we see in the sample is chosen by the author. With books in bookshops, we can flick to any page – halfway through the book or wherever we chose – to check the consistency of style and language. In ebooks, on the other hand, there’s no way to know if we’d not like the evolution of the book.
Excuse me for being so picky, but I don’t take buying books lightly.
So, do you like the immaterial nature of ebook buying? Or do you, like me, prefer to have a print book to help decide if you truly want a book to keep?
In this way, I’m not so keen on buying ebooks – unless I have been absolutely taken by a concept or a sample – or both. (Somehow, I think I’d be a good agent.)
However, one sample has come back into my mind more than the others. The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series byPip Ballantine and Tee Morris has been lurking in my brain as of late – especially the heroine and her spunky tongue. I just couldn’t help myself, so I bought it! Granted, Phoenix Rising, the first book doesn’t have as classy/elegant/beautiful cover as the third book (which first led me to the series), Dawn’s Early Light, but STEAMPUNK! I want to write more Steampunk.
Funny (or not) story, actually, I dreamt in Steampunk last night. Best recurring dream for a while. Steampunk ghosts a la Doctor Who’s The Unquiet Dead. I hope to get a first chapter (detailing my dream) up soon…ish.
I guess I’m sad now that I can’t take these books on the go. One of the reasons I don’t read so much is money. I may be able to spend some pennies on ebooks, but real books, print books cost not only their over-a-fiver amount but also shipping.