Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Dirty Little Secret

Question of the Week: "Have you switched to reading mostly ebooks or do you still hanker for the feel of a bound book in your hands? How would you prefer to have your books published?"

My Answer:

I browse on Amazon and buy in real life.

I've heard bookstore workers complain, time and again, about shoppers who will happily walk into a small independent bookstore, chat for ages with a book-loving bookseller, then thank the bookseller for their time and announce that they now know what they'll buy on Amazon. Because it's so much cheaper.

I'm not against Amazon. I know they're corporate bullies, but they've also done great things for authors—like help level the playing field so even a small press author's books are accessible to a wide potential readership. And I do sometimes buy things from them—it's particularly convenient for ordering a book that I can't find in the store, or for ordering a gift for my nephew in Toronto, since its delivery fees are so reasonable. (Free, if you spend enough money.)

But here's how I buy my books, in 5 easy steps: 

    Add caption
  1. I hear about a book that intrigues me.
  2. I download the free Kindle sample and start reading on my phone.
  3. About 95% of the time, that's as far as I go with a book. Most books don't hook most readers, and I'm not willing to spend time in a book where I'm not compulsively driven to turn the page.
  4. If I want the book, I browse local bookstores to see if it's in stock. If I find it, I buy it. If it's not, and I'm just THAT hooked on the sample, I order from the evil empire. (I'm not willing to pay the store to order the book for me if it's not in stock, for two reasons: 1. It's a pain to have to add one more errand, to go back to that shop when the book comes in. 2. I'd be paying them a 40% premium to do something I can do myself: order the book online.)
  5. I also buy books at launches and book parties from whichever bookseller has made the effort to come out and sell. My most recent purchase (from Vancouver's Dead Write Books) is Owen Laukkanen's Kill Fee. Amazing book so far. It's coming out in paperback soon, but I bought the hardcover because after hearing him read, I just couldn't wait.

So basically, I USE Amazon to help me BUY from independents.


Meredith Cole said...

That's so interesting that you read ebooks as a teaser--and then read the rest on paper (if you like it). I think that would be about as much ebook reading as I could stand as well... I love the feel of a real book in my hand.

Paul D. Marks said...

Robin, I wish more people would browse on Amazon but buy in real life. But I'm one of the guilty ones. I buy a lot on Amazon, but I also still love going into bookstores. I can just get lost.

Robin Spano said...

Don't feel guilty, Paul! We all shop where it makes sense for us. IMO, it's up to the retailer to convince the shopper to spend our money at their shop, and our job to make the purchase where it suits us.