I’m pretty much enamored with my e-reader, a Nook that I’ve had for a little over three years. I don’t read exclusively on it, but I’d guess 85 to 90 percent of all the books I buy are in e-format.
Recently, however, I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized there’s something I don’t like about bering chained to an e-reader. It’s that I spend virtually no time wandering through my local brick-and-mortar bookstores just browsing. I used to do that a lot at Borders (now long gone) and Barnes & Noble. It’s how I’d discover “new” authors.
I’d blow an hour or two at a time just strolling the aisles and picking up books, mostly trade paper editions, whose subject matter and/or covers attracted me. I’d study the blurbs and synopses, maybe leaf through a few pages, then make a decision. Doing that, I unearthed more that a few authors, previously unknown to me, for whom I developed a long-term affinity. But I ceased such window-shopping after I got my Nook.
Yes, I can still prowl through dozens of candidate books electronically, but it just isn’t the same. I find it much more cumbersome than physically hefting a book and checking it out. Thus, slave to my e-reader, I find myself returning to the same stable of authors time after time. Ones I know. Ones I’m comfortable with. Ones I enjoy reading. It’s a pretty big stable, but I know there’s a multitude of fresh talent out there, good writers, whom I’m missing.
I can always check out what books are getting heavy-duty, positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, of course. But my reading tastes don’t necessarily align with what’s popular or even on best-seller lists. Nor am I sure that’s the best way to uncover new talent. I’d rather “do it myself.”
So, although I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions, I’ll make an exception for 2014. I promise (myself, I guess) I’ll spend more time in real bookstores just browsing. And then buying actual dead-tree copies (since I want bookstores to remain in business) instead of seizing my Nook and purchasing a cheaper e-edition.
I’m not planning on ditching my Nook or anything like that. Heavens knows, that would be folly, since, as a novelist, I derive that vast majority of my royalties from eBooks.
I should note, there’s one thing I really love about e-readers. That’s the capability they offer to obtain free samples (maybe 30 or so pages) prior to making a purchase decision. NOTE TO ROOKIE WRITERS: I’ve eliminated a lot of novels that way, books that didn’t grab me from the get-go and yank me bodily into a story.
Long live e-readers. Long live bookstores.
By the way, next week I’ll be blogging in Southern Writers Magazine, Suite T.