Thursday, July 28, 2011

How do you choose your books?

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I have a lot of happy memories associated with Borders, and I'll miss them. The cafes were always better than the ones at Barnes and Noble. They also tended to have a better selection of titles. Even Barnes and Noble has closed some locations that used to be considered hot property (e.g. the one near Lincoln Center in NYC).

Will this be a chance for indie bookstores to gain a foothold in the market? Maybe. 

The American Booksellers Association hosted an e-book sale popularly known as "25 for 25" as in 25 titles on sale for 25 cents a piece. (Who says a quarter won't get you anything?) The Washington DC area's indie, Politics and Prose sold 925 e-books during the three day sale. Publishers Weekly reported that 145 independent bookstores participated in the sale and reported total sales over 15,000 copies. It's unclear to me whether this number is just the 25 cent e-books or if the 25 cent e-books spurred additional sales. I mean, it's great to sell a book for 25 cents, but I think it's even better to sell one for ten whole dollars. Am I right or am I right?

One independent bookseller quoted in Publishers Weekly's article A World Without Borders (isn't that precious?) lamented the loss of a "showroom for books." You know, I like browsing through physical books because I love shopping, but realistically, shopping and actually reading don't have much in common. In fact, I think that most of the books I actually read are the ones I get for free either through NetGalley, authors, publishers, friends, or the library. I still buy plenty of books. (See previous comment about my love of shopping.) Also, I believe in supporting authors and I think the economy needs all the stimulation I can give, so I'm doing my part like a good little American. However, my point is, I don't walk into Barnes and Noble, run my fingers over the covers and go, "Ooh! Raised lettering. That's hot! I must have it!"

Sometimes I browse sections like "new voices" (or whatever the store calls it), staff recommendations (love!), and the buy one get one half off (I'm no dork; who doesn't love a good sale?) I'll even check-out the new releases in YA just because I love the new book smell and the covers are pretty, but now, I already have review copies of most of those, and for a lot of the, the pretty cover is just a piece of cardboard separating me from the crap inside. (Sorry!) This fall will be different though! Lots of good people are releasing terrific YA books this fall. I'll be posting more about this soon. I'm very excited!

Okay, but back to the original title of this post, and my probing question: how do you choose your books? I'd like to know. I read most of them based on recommendations I see through blogs and Goodreads. I've also used sites like WhatShouldIReadNext and subscription-based reader's advisory tools available through the library. (If you're not sure what that means, ask your local librarian. S/He will be thrilled!) Side note: reader's advisories do not tell you reading too many books will give you brain cancer or heighten the risk of birth defects for pregnant women.

Some of my favorite book blogs:
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: romance book reviews. I don't even like or read romance, but I love this blog. It's so much fun. They assign grades to the books. How cute is that?
No Vampires Allowed: The librarian who writes these reviews is phenomenally cool and it's refreshingly vampire/paranormal romance free.
Somewhere Only We Know . . .: Minnie is like a book goddess or something. She reads a lot and she's a fair and thorough reviewer. She's also a lovely person. I'm just sad we can't clone her.
Lisa Loves Literature: Another avid reader who writes terrific reviews.

Where do your favorite reads come from? Do you think we really need bookstores to be showrooms for books?