How do you find and select your books?
Deb Kastner here. When I first started reading (first grade?) my mom took me to the library every couple of weeks and let me choose a pile of books off the rack. I’m sure I probably annoyed her as I painstakingly made my selections. Books were—and are—new worlds to me. Every few months in school we’d receive a little Scholastic magazine from which to buy books. I think I was allowed to choose one. In any case, it took me forever to figure out which book I should choose. I sat with those catalogues for hours, drooling and dreaming. Circling everything that interested me and then slowly narrowing it down to my final choice.
Then I discovered series. More than one book with the same main character or setting? Heaven! (We’re talking Paddington Bear and Little House on the Prairie here, folks. This was way, WAY before Harry Potter came onto the scene.) Oh—and anything with horses. Black Beauty. The Black Stallion. Misty of Chincoteague. But I digress…
I still remember the Christmas my parents got me the entire boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I’d read the first couple via the library and was totally hooked. So much so that I may have turned the easy chair so it faced the window and completely ignored the family celebration while I read through the entire series in one fell swoop.
While on vacation with my family, at a drugstore in tiny John Day, Oregon I discovered Harlequin Historicals and then there was no going back. I searched for them with a vengeance at the library, garage sales and book sales because by the time I’d found them, I’d missed several years’ worth. I bought the books just because they were part of a single series, even though they were written by a variety of authors.
As an adult, I finally got to spend my own money and buy—more books! I visited bookstores and always, ALWAYS checked the book aisle at the grocery store (Still do, actually. If my dear hubby turns around and can’t find me, he knows where to look.) I am first drawn to the cover (I personally like people on the covers. I’m shallow that way.) I read the back cover copy and the first couple of pages before making my selections. There are also some authors who are automatic-buys for me. Their books sell me on their name alone.
And then came Amazon, which again changed the playing field. Now I could buy books without even having to leave the comfort of my home. It took a while for publishers to adjust to this new format—covers had to be altered, back cover copy had to be front and center and eventually my publisher, at least, started including the first several pages as a teaser. So after a little bump while adjustments were made, I find I’m buying books relatively the same way, with the same information I would use were I holding it in my hand. I still prefer the feel of paper books so I generally buy paperbacks or hardcovers and have them delivered. That said, I also have a Kindle full of books.
Then in comes audio (and Audible!) books. Books on tape have been around for some time but they were harder to find. Now streaming/downloading audio books is not much more difficult than a click of a button on my phone (My husband and my bank account thinks it’s maybe too easy?) I love having the freedom to listen to a book while I cook and clean. Talk about multi-tasking, in the best sense of the word. I “read” many more books a month that way.
But (and this is my long-winded way of getting to the real topic of my blog post) I find it’s more difficult to select books on Audible. The covers are more or less the same and the back cover blurb is there. You can listen to a sample of the narration. My issue, and it’s mine alone to bear, is that I’ve got nearly 100% hearing loss in one ear and significant hearing loss in the other. The narrator consequently makes a huge difference in whether or not I’ll like a book, despite how much I like the author or story. I hear and understand deep male voices easier than female voices, which is problematic, since I love romance and those are generally read by women. (Although Broadway legend Terrence Mann did a phenomenal job narrating Julie Garwood’s Mercy.) If (When?? Please when??) I ever have one of my own books narrated I will beg, borrow and plead for him. To my knowledge he’s no longer narrating audiobooks, but a writer can dream. But back to my current dilemma…my solution is to listen to books narrated with a British accent, because for some reason I find it easier to understand accents. That I love Regency romances is a plus, but I still think I miss out on a lot of good books due to my limitations.
So, now what I really want to know is:
- How do you select a book? Author? Cover? Back Blurb? Something else?
- Does that change when you’re searching for an e-book (or shopping online?)
- Do you listen to audio books? If so, how do you choose which ones to buy?
Oh, and by the way, today is National Rotisserie Chicken Day, National Rocky Road Day and National Leave Work Early Day. So I highly suggest you leave work early, treat yourself to a chicken you don’t have to slave over the stove to make, grab some ice cream and a book and enjoy your evening!
Inquiring minds want to know, and if you comment, I’ll put you in the running for an autographed copy of my August release, The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby. May the commenting commence!