Monthly Archives: April 2013

We Are Living Through a Reading Revolution; and it’s AWESOME!

A little factoid keeps popping up that seems to be surprising the publishing industry: once someone purchases an e-reader (any e-reader) they start to buy more books.  Not just e-books, but ALL books!  Paperbacks in particular, but hardcovers as well.

The industry seems to be scratching their heads, which just further proves to me how completely out of touch the publishers are with the readers.  Because really, this is a great big DUH!  Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and tablets everywhere have not only put one-click purchasing into the hands of consumers, but (and this is the important part here) made reading affordable and convenient again.  I know I’m not the only one who would plan a lovely afternoon to browse the book store, enjoy a coffee, and agonize over my purchase.  Because I was only getting one.  It was all I could afford.  And if I took a chance on a stinker, well, I was screwed until next time.

But not anymore.  This new world has its ups and downs (that’s life) but the ups are pretty fantastic.  Thanks to this shift, books are affordable.  And a lot more stories, different stories, are finding their way to the mass market, not just the ones cherry-picked by the publishers.  Sure this has meant a lot of crap is now out there, but there is an abundance of wonderful that never would have seen publication otherwise.

And thanks to reviews and websites like Goodreads, when I hear about a book I can check out what others are saying about it.  I know what I like and after scrolling through a few reviews (not just the gushing 5-stars, but the real ones) I can usually tell if a book seems like something I’d be interested in.

But back to the paperbacks.  It really shouldn’t be that shocking that e-reader users start buying more paperbacks.  These are the disenfranchised!  These are the masses of consumers the publishers have ostracized over the last two decades.  Once rabid readers who, thanks to busy lives, no longer had the time or money to find a good book, let alone take a chance on that book for $15.99 (or the truly painful $29.99).  In my book, that’s two lunches out.  Or a new toy for my kid to keep him entertained for an afternoon.  Or a new shirt… you get my point.  For the price, people like me decided it wasn’t worth the cost.

But then we got an e-reader.  And bought anywhere from one to fifteen books for that same amount of money.  And got sucked back down the reading rabbit hole we used to live in when life was simpler.

And the more you read, the more you want to read.  Yes, we are buying lots of e-books and loving our e-readers.  But we are still buying paperbacks.  Especially those special ones.  The ones that really touch our hearts.  The ones we want to keep on our bookshelves and smile at every time we pass by.  The ones we can have signed one day.

It is the same in the music industry.  Times have changed.  But people still buy CD’s, or even more popular right now, Vinyl  The truly good artists will always be able to sell their product to the rabid consumers who want a piece of the magic.

I hope the publishing industry starts to understand what an opportunity they have at their fingertips right now.  They have consumers absolutely chomping at the bit to be presented with more product.  E-readers just happened to be the means through which the massive divide between the publishers and the consumers was made visible.  The consumers were there, they just weren’t being fed what they wanted.  Until now.

Rant: What Happened to Mystery and Suspense?

I thought I was the only one.  But then I started talking to my friends and quickly began to realize I wasn’t alone.  In fact, I seemed to be in the majority, because every time I casually bring the topic up, the conversation gets heated.  Where are all the good books in Mystery and Suspense?

I grew up on steady diet of Nancy Drew.  I read them until I was far too old to still be reading them under the dinner table while everyone else was having a normal discussion about their day.  I kept reading them not because I loved Nancy so much I couldn’t bear to seperate myself from her world, but because there wasn’t anything to move up to at the next level.  

I’ve found a few series over the years… they were ok.  Good enough to wet my appetite.  But years, YEARS, pass between finding series I can sink my teeth into.  I satiate my thirst for a good mystery by drifting into other hot genres from time to time.  Paranormal, Romance, Historical, Sci-fi… they’re all good for a thrill.   But they aren’t a good, old-fashioned mystery.

I troll the aisles of the book store, I scan the endless sea of titles online, and all I can find are police, murder, rape, and gritty crime.  Am I looking in the wrong place?  Are they hiding all the books I’m looking for in a new, hot category I haven’t heard of yet? (Side note: stop making up new categories.  You just confuse the hell out of the readers.  Call a spade a spade and stop trying to rebrand genres.)

I’m not looking to get depressed or grossed out.  I don’t want to see women as victims.  I’m sick of seeing women needing to be rescued as if it is the only way to include women in story arcs.  

And I don’t have anything against all of those male protagonists out there.  I have found and liked quite a few of you.  But I miss the hell out of women.  I am one, I like to see a reflection of myself on the page.  Not as a sidekick.  Not as a convenient lay.  Not as the victim.  But as a fully-fledged, interesting protagonist driving the plot.  

WHERE ARE THEY???

When I talk to agents, editors, and writers I keep getting the same runaround.  Suspense isn’t hot right now.  They publish what works.

Riddle me this, Batman… If they publish what works, why isn’t Suspense hot right now?  If they publish what works, then why are so many of us desperate to find something to read?

It seems to me Mystery, Suspense, Thriller (any, all, I don’t really care which genre we’re talking about, I used to like them all…) might not be publishing what people want to read.  Maybe, just maybe they should try publishing something, I don’t know…  different?

I’d like to curl up on a rainy day with an intellectual puzzle, dynamic characters, and an interesting plot without being grossed out or terrified.  And while I’m all for suspending some reality for a good story, please keep the extreme, over-the-top super intelligence and cheese factor to a minumum.

I’d really like publishers to stop telling me what I want to read and start listening to what I (and a ton of other disenchanted readers) are saying.  Unfortunately, we’ve been driven so far away it will probably take a lot to bring us back.  But we’re here, waiting and watching.

In the meantime, It is a rainy day here in central Florida.  I think I might pull an Agatha Christie off the shelf and get lost for a few hours.

Book Review: Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

Image

It happened again.  In a world drowning in new books… I couldn’t find anything to read.  I have a knack for that.  So I was on the hunt, searching my friends posts, Pinterest, Good Reads… coming up empty until my new favorite author, Samantha Young, posted a book on her Facebook page and told me to check it out.  I figured if someone I loved to read was recommending a book it might be worth checking into.

Overall I very much enjoyed Wide Awake.  After reading the sample I happily purchased the book and looked forward to finding out if Emma Walker would recover from amnesia and remember the self-centered high school senior she used to be.  I was dying to find out if she would fall head over heels in love with her hot, sweet, physical therapist, Mason.

The story up until she left the hospital had me hook, line, and sinker.  I loved the writing, the characters, the plot… everything.  But the second half of the book takes on a completely different tone.  As Emma tries to reintegrate into her old high school life I found myself losing interest.  This may be no fault of the author (I’m not a good judge on this particular part of the story, I typically don’t like the Young Adult category.  High school is not my… thing.).  But beyond the story line, I generally started to lose that wonderful connection I felt for Emma and Mason. (Mason, by the way, has the ability to say the most romantic things.  Full-on fictional boyfriend material.)

The first half of the book was fascinating, while the second half was more contrived.  With as interesting as the first half felt I wanted more out of the second half than the tried and true, semi-cheesy standby’s.  The end left me wanting.

But I enjoyed the book, even the end.  For a quick read on my kindle, the price was right and the story was entertaining.  I like Shelly Crane’s voice and style, and I think she has a great deal of potential to really knock a story like this out of the park.  I look forward to checking out what she has to offer in the future!

%d bloggers like this: