imkittymyers at hotmail dot com
Friday, July 22, 2005
SEVENTY-SIX PAGES LATER ...
For about a year now I have bought all of my books online. I love book stores; I love just being in book stores, but I have had the worst luck choosing books in book stores and actually liking them enough, once home, to read them cover to cover. They invariably end up being donated to the Public Library. The books I have purchased online were "sold" to me by readers' recommendations. POD-dyMouth has reviewed three books which I've bought and thoroughly enjoyed. Rachel, at TinkertyTonk, mentioned the Carl Wilcox series by Harold Adams. To date, I've read the first four of the series and there's not a bum in the lot. I've read readers' raves on blogs and other sites, all of which have prompted me to buy them, and I've rarely been disappointed.
However, I do love patronizing book stores, so this is
HOW I CHOOSE A BOOK IN THE BOOK STORE:
1) Without a doubt, the COVER must grab me. I don't bother even picking it up if the cover is boring.
2) The TITLE is the next most important factor. If it's boring, I progress to ...
3) the BOOK FLAP's description, which has a track record of being "okay" 50% of the time, which is why I'll always flip to the first page.
4) I at least read the first sentence, and if that's not a grabber ...
5) I read the first paragraph.
6) And if that 1st graph is boring, I give the book one last chance by reading the rest of the page.
Recently, I was in our local B&N -- we no longer have a local independent book store -- browsing the mystery section when I happened to spot one of the greatest covers I have seen in years. Very evocative, so much so that I almost bought it without ever opening it up. But I did, and much to my pleasure the story is set in Montana! Woo-hoo! The book is The Right Madness, written by James Crumley. I've never read any of his books before, but I was anxious to start with this one. I read the flap and the first page and couldn't wait to get home to crack its spine. Seventy-six pages later I find that I just don't care about these people. You can't imagine how badly I wanted to love this book, how I tried to read more than a few pages at a sitting. The fact is that those 76 pages required many tries to get that far. It's possible that I just wasn't ready to read this book, or any book, as I haven't picked up another one yet. I can't tell you how it broke my heart to put it back on the shelf. I'll definitely give it another shot, maybe when the weather turns cold.
I was going to post that much anyway, and then I read Agent 007's latest post in which she explains how/why agents, and editors, choose the books to be published. I gained a new appreciation for the other side (a.k.a. "The Dark Side") of the book business.
A CHALLENGE FOR AUTHORS, and an Answer for the Skeptics
So let me ask you, when you visit a bookstore, what makes you buy a book? Do you read every page before deciding to plunk down $24? Or do you look at the cover, read the flap copy, check out the reviews, take a gander at the author photo and bio, before opening to the first page and reading a paragraph (maybe two), and then and only then do you decide whether it’s worth the investment of your time and your money?
It's a pretty safe bet that there are books you don't even open. And lots that you don't even pick up, even though they're on a fancy display table at the front of the bookstore.
So is it fair to fault the editor for thinking like a reader?