How Things Have Changed

A new Stephen King book hit the bookstores this week. It’s titled JOYLAND, and it’s much more like THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON than THE STAND or MISERY or DESPERATION or the Tower series or any of a couple dozen books that I could name. It’s published under the wonderful, indispensable, and at this point venerable Hard Case Crime imprint. The book’s appearance made some major news in those places where books are still news because if you want to buy the book, you’re going to have to buy The Book. There will not be an e-book version of JOYLAND for the foreseeable  future; yes, you’ll be able to obtain an audiobook, but something for your Kindle or Nook or other e-reader isn’t going to happen for awhile, unless you want to buy a copy of the book, tear out each page, paste it on Your Precious and…of course, you are not going to do that. 
There is a bit of irony here, given that one of the first e-books by a mainstream writer to be published solely as an ebook  — not as we know them now, but it was an ebook nonetheless — was a novella entitled “Riding the Bullet,” a chilling little ten-finger exercise that was written by, uh, Stephen King. You had to download some (free) software called “SoftLock” in order to read it. This occurred way back in 2000. There were other ebooks published, including a pay-as-you-go serial by King titled “The Plant,” but the format never really caught on until some smart folks at Amazon came up with what they came up with. King, however, was there at the beginning. There accordingly have been some who have now taken King to task over what they perceive to be his apparent one-eighty, somehow finding him to blame for the popularity of the electronic format since he was one of the first to embrace it with the same fervor that Jack Torrance embraced that rotting corpse in THE SHINING. I would disagree. King has made quite clear that his reason for limiting the format of JOYLAND to physical form isn’t to disown the child he midwifed at the turn of the century; he is doing it to help physical booksellers. This is not something new for King; those of us of some age will recall that King did an unapologetic tour of indy stores in 1994 to promote INSOMNIA, riding his motorcycle from city to city and making appearances to yes, mobs of people. There’s also a more recent model for this. A growing number of musicians are occasionally releasing some new songs only on vinyl, to support independent record stores.  Is he taking a risk financially, by limiting the format to physical books, and cutting out the impulse buyer? Possibly. Is Hard Case Crime? Almost certainly. JOYLAND won’t be available at the press of a button; it’s going to take some effort, and yes, some waiting to get it, maybe even some inconvenience. Some folks may feel it’s not worth the hassle.
But can I tell you something, as someone who loves his Kindle? JOYLAND is worth whatever it takes for you to get it. Let me go further than that: this is a book that should only see the light of day as an actual book. It’s a coming of age novel, with some mystery and romance and a bit of the supernatural thrown in, and it works as a physical book. JOYLAND is set in 1973, at a downheel amusement park on the coast of North Carolina, and I swear that as I turned the pages I could smell — very faintly — popcorn and taffy and ocean water and hear ferris wheel music rising up from between the pages. Am I given to imagining things? Maybe. But isn’t that what reading is all about? I don’t think it would be quite the same on an e-reader.
Let me now ask you: what was the last physical book (and we’ll count audio books in the mix) that you purchased? How long ago was it? And what do you think of what King and Hard Case Crime are doing with JOYLAND? Do you think that limiting its format to a physical product is a good idea or a huge mistake?
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43 thoughts on “How Things Have Changed

  1. Interesting plan on King’s part. I still mix paper with binary somewhat. Most of what I read is for pay in audiobook recording and is therefore in ebook format so I can use my Kindle Fire or my studio PC to read as I record. On the other hand, research books I often prefer to be paper so I can mark and write in them.

    My last paper book purchases?

    SAS Mountain and Arctic Survival Guide
    by Barry Davies

    and

    The Guerrilla Factory:
    The Making of Special Forces Officers

    by Tony Schwalm

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    • That’s an EXTREMELY eclectic list, Basil, but we would expect no less! As far as audiobooks are concerned, by wife loves them, but I have never used them. I can read faster than I can listen, and when in the car I much prefer music, so they aren’t practical for me. They’re certainly a blessing, however, for a great number of people who have difficulty reading for one reason or another, and I am at an age where the possibility of the visual parts (among others) giving out is certainly a possibility. I may change my opinion at some point.

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  2. Last physical book … I’d have to dig through my Amazon receipts to find it. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long, long time. Probably a couple of years at least. For fiction, anyway. Non-fiction? Probably a few weeks to a month ago. A writing book, no doubt.

    With fiction, only e-books.

    What King and Hard Case Crime are doing with JOYLAND is guaranteeing that I won’t read the book. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not really interested in owning paper books. Many of the writing references I’ve bought are available electronically, and for the most part, I buy those if I’m given the choice. I’m not after the paper. I’m after the content. For fiction, I’m after the story. Paper doesn’t make my experience any different, except being less convenient and harder to read late at night. And the occasional paper cut. Never cut myself with an e-ink reader.

    I choose a medium for me that’s light-weight, handheld, and allows me to read at a font size that doesn’t make my eyes sore after reading four or five hours straight into the early morning when the sun starts peaking over the horizon and I should have been asleep hours ago.

    Paper books and hardbacks just don’t fit that bill, I’m afraid. They’re fine for reference books, especially if I have to constantly flip back and forth. But for fiction, it’s linear reading all the way. No need for the physical heft and tiny print of paper.

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    • I appreciate what you’re saying, Ryan, particularly due to the fact that my aggregation of books (and comic books) is less a collection and more an accumulation. If I ever move I will have a huge problem. One other favorable aspect of the Kindle for me is that I don’t have to worry about having a particular book with me when I want it; it’s available everywhere, from my phone to my computer to my tablet.

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  3. At first King’s move irked me. But then I thought through his motives, as you’ve outlined here, and I think his intentions are good. So I’m down with it now and will seek it out–love the cover.

    The last paper book I read was Delusion in Death by JD Robb. About a month ago. Great fun, as always.

    I’d say 90% of the books I’ve read in the last three years since I got my Kindle have been ebooks. I’ve loved the convenience.

    But I confess lately I’ve really been missing the experience of a physical book. I miss browsing in bookstores and making new discoveries (covers draw me big time). I miss going for one paperback and coming home with a a bag of 10. (I know you can do that online but it doesn’t seem as fun somehow.)

    My reading seems less eclectic now, too. I tend to stick to recommendations from my online “tribe” or books from authors I want to support because I enjoy their blogs, etc. (Crime/thriller writers have the best blogs!) So I’ve been reading far fewer historicals or romances than I used to.

    Plus I want to set a good example for my kids. I want them to see me lost in a book instead of staring at a screen. I’m hoping it will inspire my reluctant reader son to find the joy in books.

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    • I too think there’s room for both physical books and the the convenience of ebooks, Sheri. And I LOVE that you’re concerned about your children and the lure of the screen. I was in an Apple store last night; there are two kids’ tables with iPads mounted at each chair; three year olds were playing games with them, etc., and seemingly totally transfixed. At first I thought it was fascinating, and then I found it just a bit frightening. I think I liked it better when three year olds would sit at tables and read Golden Books.

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    • Joe–
      I share your sense of fear at seeing what you saw. I like my Kindle, and my new novel The Anything Goes Girl is a KDP Select offering. But I’m hoping it catches on–so I can publish a print copy.
      BWKnister

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    • BW, I love seeing people succeed. Good luck to you and let us know how things are going! I totally get how you feel about having your book published in physical form. As much as I love my Kindle, it doesn’t seem like it’s a “book” if it doesn’t have binding.

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  4. I can think of one reason noone’s thought of why King would do this – publicity. His name has been all over the news, and this controversial step is bound to get him some extra exposure. Perhaps his motivations are not all as altruistic as they appear…?

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    • That’s certainly a consideration, Nick. I thought of that and ultimately rejected it because…I don’t think he really needs the publicity. He’s pretty much in the public eye on a regular basis, so I’m not sure if he was influenced by that decision. And, of course, it’s somewhat of a risk for his publisher, which is cutting off a potential revenue stream by not publishing an ebook version, at least at this time. Certainly, however, the extra publicity is not a bad thing, and might have had an influence in his decision.

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  5. 1. As many others have recently responded: many people will simply order from Amazon. How nice for physical bookstores.

    2. What about the many people who don’t live near a physical bookstore?

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    • Richard, I get where you’re coming from, particularly with respect to people who live a long distance from a physical bookstore. I live in Westerville, Ohio, which has an excellent mystery bookstore (Foul Play) and is equidistant from two B & Ns which are about fifteen minutes away. Not everyone is so blessed, for sure. For them and for others, Amazon is indispensable for any number of reasons. On the other hand, if you order from Amazon, there’s one problem: you gotta wait to get the book. I am not an impulse buyer, or a “gotta have it” guy, but I am amazed at the people who have to have a book, or CD, or DVD the day it comes it. I think those are the people that King hopes to reach with that, the ones who show up at midnight to buy the physical product.

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  6. HEY! I just bought this book and here it is, large as life (I know, cliché…I was out last night, can’t come up with anything original). I bought Joyland, Inferno, and And the Mountains Echoed.

    There was no contest about which book I’d read first. King all the way. Love everything about it. The cover, the turning of the pages, the anticipation of King’s suspense building that equals, at least for me, no other author…except maybe Child, but different genre. Also appreciate Mr. King’s dedication to Donald Westlake. Appropriate and…well…nice.

    I haven’t touched my nook in quite a while. Nothing against it. Just love the feel of a book.

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    • Very cool, Amanda. I love that you bought JOYLAND last night, not to mention two other books. I probably divide my book vs. ebook use 50-50, though I take my Kindle Fire to bed every night…I have an old man’s sleep pattern, so I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and read. I also use it to jot down ideas and passages that come to me (I have Google Drive sideloaded on it) but that’s a topic for another time.

      I agree with you about the Westlake dedication. He has influenced authors who don’t even know who he is.

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  7. As a selfpublished author I very much respect the power of the book store to be there and to put the physical book in people’s hands, look them in the eye and say “you’re gonna love this”.

    The problem is that I don’t see it lasting and I wonder if King’s effort here to limit his sales to physical copies is more nostalgic than it is progressive. I read this and thought “how quaint” rather than “what a great gesture”. Even the cover art seems to shout “retro”.

    The truth is that while physical media is good for those of us who remember when The Actor was The President, it’s not sustainable. When I give an assignment in class now, there is a MOB towards the one kid who has their text book. Everyone’s got a phone and and they snap a picture of the book page so they can work on it from home.

    This is the future.

    If anything there needs to be a rise of something to fill in the hole left by the closing of the physical book stores. Rather than putting in a Starbucks in a BN, maybe it needs to go the other way, put in some B&N browsing kiosks in Starbucks. Create a place where people go naturally for book clubs, game nights, etc and see what happens. I agree there is value in the Bookseller as a noble profession, but I fear that times are changing so rapidly that it’s … just not going to last.

    And that’s true across the board. As a teacher I’m seeing my job change faster and faster and I fear for my colleagues who are still mired in the old thinking. One problem we did last week in class involved me writing on the board: “How far can a crewman on the USS Constitution (the only tall ship in active Naval service) standing on the top of the mainmast see to the horizon?”

    No numbers. No angles. Nothing. The students had to get out their phones, get on the internet and start looking up information like the height of the mainmast (220 ft), the radius of the earth (4,000 miles) and then do the math to get the distance to horizon (about 18 miles). I could have given them that information like I would have 10 years ago, but that’s not what’s important today.

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  8. I still feel like ebooks are the “demo” version of a book, not a real book. If I read something I really like in ebook, I’ll buy a physical copy so my kids can enjoy it later. The last book I bought was the thankfully republished Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

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    • You know, Kessie, I find that really interesting because a number of younger people do the same thing with music. If my daughter really likes something she or I have in digital format she’ll buy the vinyl version. She just bought the UK edition of Jake Bugg’s LP (well, I bought it, but…). I never thought of books in the same way, but I really get it. Thanks!

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  9. One thing I love about King’s venture is that is a love song to the (almost) lost art of great covers. “Joyland” was designed by Robert McGinnis, the prolific artist behind some terrific pulp covers and some famous movie posters, including Breakfast at Tiffanys and one of my fave’s — Barbarella.

    Like album covers art, I fret about the survival of book cover artists.

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    • I LOVE the Hard Case Crime cover art, Kris. They harken back to the Gold Medal books era when covers were actually designed to stand out. I but each and every book they publish for that reason alone. I of course read them as well and am never sorry.

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  10. As a selfpublished author I very much respect the power of the book store to be there and to put the physical book in people’s hands, look them in the eye and say “you’re gonna love this”.

    The problem is that I don’t see it lasting and I wonder if King’s effort here to limit his sales to physical copies is more nostalgic than it is progressive. I read this and thought “how quaint” rather than “what a great gesture”. Even the cover art seems to shout “retro”.

    The truth is that while physical media is good for those of us who remember when The Actor was The President, it’s not sustainable. When I give an assignment in class now, there is a MOB towards the one kid who has their text book. Everyone’s got a phone and and they snap a picture of the book page so they can work on it from home.

    This is the future.

    If anything there needs to be a rise of something to fill in the hole left by the closing of the physical book stores. Rather than putting in a Starbucks in a BN, maybe it needs to go the other way, put in some B&N browsing kiosks in Starbucks. Create a place where people go naturally for book clubs, game nights, etc and see what happens. I agree there is value in the Bookseller as a noble profession, but I fear that times are changing so rapidly that it’s … just not going to last.

    And that’s true across the board. As a teacher I’m seeing my job change faster and faster and I fear for my colleagues who are still mired in the old thinking. One problem we did last week in class involved me writing on the board: “How far can a crewman on the USS Constitution (the only tall ship in active Naval service) standing on the top of the mainmast see to the horizon?”

    No numbers. No angles. Nothing. The students had to get out their phones, get on the internet and start looking up information like the height of the mainmast (220 ft), the radius of the earth (4,000 miles) and then do the math to get the distance to horizon (about 18 miles). I could have given them that information like I would have 10 years ago, but that’s not what’s important today.

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    • You raise a lot of interesting points here, Rob. I think that there is certainly a nostalgic element to JOYLAND but there is also the idea of preserving and continuing something that needs to be preserved and continued as well. That, I think, is at least part of the mission of Hard Case Crime. Not all change is good, and if King wants to do his part to keep the physical part of publishing going, well and good.

      I love your story about the problem that you gave your students. My daughter had to complete a similar problem recently, using buildings at The Ohio State University. One question: did you take it a step further and require your students to do the math themselves, without calculators? I ask because I fear that some of our hard-earned skills — the ability to perform basic mathematical functions, balancing a checkbook, and yep, reading and writing by hand — are getting tossed by the wayside. Ask a ten year old these days how to build a fire without matches, gasoline, and a hand grenade and they’re lost.

      On that note…I strongly recommend that everyone who reads this buy a physical copy of the book WHERE THERE IS NO DOCTOR by David Werner, et al. It’s an excellent first aid handbook that contains a lot of what I’m starting to call “lost information.” The internet, or cyberspace, or whatever you want to call it is a wonderful tool, but it’s always good to have a Plan B in case Google gurgles and stops breathing.

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    • Oddly I did not. For good or ill, I’d rather get through the problem than to have the “fun” of “how do I square 4000.004 by hand?”

      That is one big shift in the Common Core Standards that all states are adopting. More emphasis on how to get information and less on the rote memorization of it.

      Which ties back to the book thing…

      So much of the printed word was meant to be memorized, read and re-read until you knew it inside and out. I think that’s part of why we quote texts so much in essays, because it can be very hard for someone to go find the actual book and read the quote themselves, at least with schollarly work. I suppose when reviewing and quoting fiction that actual turn of phrase might be worthy of the quotation.

      But with e-texts becoming more and more prevelant, will we need to do in text quotations? Or will we simply hyperlink out of our essays and into the primary document?

      Imagine it too… you read a book and you can see where that book is cited in various journals or reviews, then you can follow those links out, and then back again. If curated well, it could really build a great number of useful relations.

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  11. Personally, I’m bi-book-al. Ebook, tree book, doesn’t matter. I like the content more than the media.

    I used to think of Stephan King as nothing but a hack writer on the level of Jacqueline Susan, and didn’t like him. Then I realized I just didn’t like the King-based movies. Cujo, for instance, evoked pathos and not fear in me.
    After reading his book on writing and Salem’s Lot I realized I was wrong. Mr. King’s work is always worth reading. I’ll buy the book today.

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  12. Brian, I had the same epiphany you did with King, though some years before. I thought he was a paperback hack writer and then read THE SHINING when it was first published in 1977. I was knocked out, went back and read his other two books (at the time) and have read the balance of his books since then. Hope you enjoy JOYLAND.

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  13. Interesting discussion here. First, I’d like to say I have no issue with King’s decision to offer only a physical book. If I love an author’s work enough, I’ll drive to the bookstore to get a book. And I hope physical bookstores survive. Here in Houston, we have Murder By The Book, an independent mystery bookstore. They host fabulous author events, so they give their customers much more than reading material. I have tickets to a Q&A event on 6/20 with Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, promoting their new book, The Heist. I can’t wait.

    Of course, as a good businessman, King should always be sensitive to his readers, but I also say he’s worked very hard to get where he is now, so if he wants to make a decision that’s in line with his values (if indeed that is his motivation), to some degree I think he’s earned the right to do that. (Strictly my personal opinion.)

    I LOVE my Kindle, and while it’s now my preferred method of reading, I consider it only one of my reading options — and I love having options.

    If I’m not convinced I’ll like a particular book, I often don’t want to pay the higher prices big publishers charge for Kindle books. (And, I don’t like the fact that most of them don’t allow lending.) So, if I want to try out a book or a new author, I still head to the library, or issue a call to my book club ladies to borrow a physical copy. Or, I head to Half Price Books, which I did just this past week.

    There are times when I take advantage of the get-it-now convenience of my Kindle. If we decide to make a quick trip out of town for the weekend, I can quickly add a few new books to my Kindle to read in the car. I love having that option!

    Like Kessie, there are times I like a book so much that after reading the Kindle version, I’ll go buy a physical copy. This allows me to share it with friends, and also experience it in a different way.

    Like you, Joe, I don’t regularly make use of audiobooks, but I do love that option as well. I have an older model car, and the CD player quit working years ago. On the occasion I make a long drive by myself (no luxury of hubby driving so I can read), I can now download audiobooks to my phone and listen in the car.

    Selfishly, I hope all the options stay around — including physical bookstores — because this reader has a use for all of them.

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    • Here’s the question though… if you could lend a book off your Kindle, seamlessly to anyone else just like a physical book, would you still want a physical book? Assume for a moment that EVERYone has an ereader.

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    • I am able to lend books seamlessly through my Kindle. I haven’t done it a lot, but do on occasion. I’ve borrowed Kindle books through Amazon’s lending program (available to their Prime members), which has allowed me to “check out” an author new to me. I often end up purchasing additional books if I like the author. Just this past week, I loaned a Kindle book to a friend to check out a new author I just discovered.

      Amazon makes this process nice and easy. I can even loan books to my friends who use iPads instead of Kindle or Nook, thanks to the Kindle app. (Believe a similar app is available for Nook.)

      Even if I borrow ebooks, I’ll still make use of physical books, for the reasons mentioned in my first comments.

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    • Diane, I like the idea of options as well. While I like King’s decision for this book, my main wish is that people READ, in whatever format and whatever platform might suit them or might be convenient. I haven’t even raised the issue of graphic novels; they simply don’t work for me in any format other than physical. Many folks would disagree. You pay your money, you make your choice. As far as borrowing is concerned, I’d be more likely to lend an ebook. The reason is that its tethered to you. I’ve lost more copies of books by lending than I care to think about.

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    • Temple Grandin comes through town here at least once a year, Jim. My wife has met her and has several of her books as well, including a couple which have been autographed (and yes, I know there is software to do that on an ebook, but it just isn’t the same).

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  14. Pro C# 5.0 and the .NET 4.5 Framework is my current sleep aid and workout tool. Do not drop it on your foot.

    As for books I wanted to read, I think the last physical books I bought and read were The Devil’s Whisper by Miyuke Miyabe and Shinjuku Shark by Arimasa Osawa. I’m not sure which I read first. I bought them at the same time last summer. Neither is available for the e-reader. The only reason I would buy a pleasure reading book that is not an e-book is if I really want to read it and it’s not in e-book format. The SK book will no doubt make it to the e-format at some point, just like movies eventually make it to tv.

    Since having cataract surgery on my left eye e-reading is the way to go. Since my left eye no longer has a natural lens it cannot focus close up. My right eye does (I’m young to have had cataract surgery), so at close focus distances my eyes don’t work in tandem. It’s so much easier with an e-reader to enlarge the font so that both my eyes can focus on the text.

    I prefer physical cookbooks.

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    • Catfriend, the ability to change fonts on an e-reader might be the top feature which attracts those of us of a certain age. I don’t always use it, but there have been times of heavy required reading where its been a Godsend. I’ve got cataract surgery in my future as well (I’m waiting for the pill: you take it, the cataracts drop off) so I’m sure that I will acquire a newfound appreciation. Thanks for the heads-up and good luck with your long term results.

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  15. I’m split about 70-15-15 on ebooks: audio: physical books.
    Audio books are kind of a bribe; I can listen to one while I do something I don’t enjoy (laundry, riding the subway).

    E-books are great instant gratification and I love not having to carry around or store a physical book. A few years ago, I was spending way too much time worrying about whether I donated, resold, or threw out my physical books. Now I buy very few and it’s much easier.

    The last physical book I bought and read was Bent Road.
    I’m still not quite sure what makes me buy a hard copy — mostly it seems to be whim. If I’m in a bookstore and see a book that looks great, I’m likely to buy it. I’ve noticed that I retain more and think more about physical books I’ve read. I’m trying to figure out why.

    I think SK’s decision is very him — unique and purposeful.

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    • Shizuka, thank you for sharing your dilemma concerning which books to purchase in ebook form or physically. I for some reason can’t imagine purchasing a book by Cormac McCarthy or William Faulkner or James Lee Burke in any form other than a physical book. One of the many feature that I love about ereaders, however, is the ability to highlight or bookmark certain phrases or passages without defacing the book. I refuse to do that with a physical book and wind up typing the phrase in question into a doc file which I have for that purpose. It’s still nice to have all of these alternatives, in any event.

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  16. So I’m in Denver and read Joe’s post and decided to go hangout at the great indie bookstore, The Tattered Cover. Joyland was on display, so I decided to give it the first page test. Well, Stephen King is who he is for a reason. The first line has his signature specific detail, which gets you into a verisimilitude (i.e., the fictive dream) right away. The rest of the chapter wove his magic. Note to writing teachers: King uses backstory in a lot of his openings, strategically. And it helps if you can flat out write.

    So I bought the book. Thus, the last print book I bought is Joyland.

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  17. My most recent physical book purchase was a two-fer: Joe Wambaugh’s THE ONION FIELD and James Ellroy’s AMERICAN TABLOID. My reading is about half and half, though I may read several in a row in either format. It doesn’t matter much to me, though there are some books I’d rather have in physical form. Also, there’s no electronic equivalent of opening the box in the mail and finding books in it. (I buy more books online than in stores for two reasons: there’s isnt a bookstore that sells anything I’d want to read that convenient, and I have a hell of a time winnowing my selections down to what I can afford when I’m in a real store. Online I can search for a book or three, check out, and get the hell away with my mortgage payment intact.)

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    • Dana, I am with you on the opening the mail and finding books thing. Totally. It goes back to my childhood, I’m sure when I would order books from the F & SF Bookstore in San Francisco and r & b albums from Ernie’s Record Mart in Nashville. Those are two great books you purchased, by the way. Someone needs to create a couple of new adjectives to describe Ellroy.

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  18. So I’m in Denver and read Joe’s post and decided to go hangout at the great indie bookstore, The Tattered Cover. Joyland was on display, so I decided to give it the first page test. Well, Stephen King is who he is for a reason. The first line has his signature specific detail, which gets you into a verisimilitude (i.e., the fictive dream) right away. The rest of the chapter weaves its magic. Note: King always uses backstory in his openings, strategically. It also helps if you can flat out write.

    So I bought the book.

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    • Jim…wow.

      For those of you who might be visiting this site for the first time, please take /make the time to visit Jim’s weekly Sunday posts, where he very generously describes how he does what he just did, to wit, sum up in a few sentences what it takes some writer’s a whole book to describe, while putting the both feet of the reader in Denver to boot.

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  19. I’ve had my Kindle for 2 years now, and after a period in which I was very excited for the price of the books (I bought too much during the first months), now I know I prefer paper books, at least for fiction.

    I don’t mind reading non-fiction on my Kindle or on my PC (latetly,non-fiction are the only books I buy on Kindle), but reading a novel, for me, is no the same.

    Actually, I’m thinking of buying paper books of Kindles I own (Dean Koontz’s “Odd Interlude” is one of them. I love that series, and it’s the only one I don’t have on paper).

    I used to buy Kindles of authors I hadn’t read before (I had discovered them on the Internet or “The Writer” or “Writer’s Digest”). Unfortunately, many had great blogs, but I didn’t like their fiction.

    What I’ll do from now on is to download the free sample to my Kindle, and if I’m hooked, I’ll buy the book in paper.

    My latest purchase has been Stephen King’s “Joyland” (bought at The Book Deposity), P. D. James’ “The Children of Men”, Joe Hill’s “NOS4A2” and Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” (bought at Amazon). Last week all of them.

    Much as I love bookshops, I think they’re doom. None can compete with the selection you can get on the internet.

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  20. I use that free sample feature quite a bit as well, Carlos, particularly with new authors who are self-publishing. I like your latest physical purchases. NOS4A2 is a particular favorite of mine.

    I don’t know whether independent bookstores are doomed or not. As I’ve mentioned (probably too often) here before, there are many parables between the music and book industries. Consider this: New Orleans has an excellent store in the Quarter called “Louisiana Music Factory” which is limited to books, tee-shirts, posters, and CDs of musicians from Louisiana. Period. Tower Records opened down the street, and had a HUGE Louisiana music section. A Virgin megastore opened a couple of years later as well, with a similar section. “Uh, oh,” everyone said. Today, Tower and Virgin are gone and LMF is still there, physical product and all, in a digital age. I wouldn’t make any bets on the presence of bookstores in ten years, on either side. It’s too soon to tell.

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  21. I forgot, I also bought “Fahrenheit 451”. That’s a book you MUST read in paper.

    I hope bookshops will be around for a while, but it’s very hard to beat Amazon.

    I live in Spain, and in the last ten years we’ve seem how practically all the video stores and music stores disappear (I’m sad to say that was due to piracy; thankfully things are changing).

    Amazon Spain was opened at the end of 2011, and right now is becoming huge; indie bookshops are facing hard times. And I don’t think is for piracy or e-books, it’s for convenience.

    The other day I went to a bookshop and a cover caught my eye by an author I didn’t know (Wulf Dorn). It was a hardcover rather cheap. But instead of buying it, I went home, checked the reviews in Amazon and Library Thing, and bought a copy in AbeBooks.com. The bookshop I went to missed a sale, but at least another one got it, and it wasn’t Amazon.

    I don’t know the future of bookshops. We’ll see.

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