This week I have been doing a lot of contemplating about what to stock up my library with. Knowing that I have a favorite local book store to visit where the getting is always good, I anticipate some hidden gem, or perhaps not so hidden as they sell hardcover new releases at 50% of the publisher’s price. I also know I will walk about between the stacks for hours as I peruse every section for something rare, something quirky, or just a title that calls to me when I glance over towards it. Calm descends, and I’m surrounded by words: perfection.
As I’ve been reading more and more e-books and delving deeper into the world of Indies, I completely adore the Nook Color that Santa brought me this past Christmas. I also love that e-books are cheaper and download in the time it would take to put toothpaste on the brush as I debated if I really felt like driving to the store. With all the fuss about the law suit between the DOJ and major publishers, we are all wondering if the result will benefit or hurt people like me. No matter the outcome, I don’t think my concerns lie in the price of what I’m reading as much as its format. Even more so, books need to leave me craving the next one.
In retrospect, there has always been something delicious about the scent of pages cracked open to a gilded book mark as I settle into a plush sofa for an afternoon session with a cup of kava tea. I’ll always love the feel of pages turning under my deft fingers as I indulge in the fantastical world of fiction. When reading an actual text, I feel like there is substance to the story in my hands and embrace the touch of paper and binding. On a rainy afternoon by the window, a well-thumbed paperback is the perfect companion.
Recently, as e-books are everywhere and so quickly available, I’m proud to note I have forty titles in my e-reader and a list of about twenty more that I will be downloading this month. Some are for reviewing purposes, some for pleasure, and recently discovering that there are so many free titles in the public domain: some just because I can. The techy feel of a sleek Nook taking up a slim slot in my bag is something that never goes unappreciated as I travel in to work.
So what is the result of the bookworm’s dilemma? Will I live by the Nook or by the book? Both please. I agree to compromise with myself because I really can’t limit my reading experience to just one way. In addition, I have no idea what will result from the Amazon vs. traditional publishers’ debacle, but right now I think it will be up in the air and in the meantime we can have the best of both worlds. I mean really, what goes up must come down, right?
Since I’ve decided not to choose e-format or paper alone, it’s been delightful. Something that I have noticed as I perused all the lists this week is a series of series that have many of the top spots. The Hunger Games and its two counterparts head up USA Today and the Wall Street Journal lists, while Fifty Shades of Grey and its two brothers snatch the NY Times top three spots for e-books. Interestingly, I noticed that there were also hangers on from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and an ever present George R.R. Martin. What does this tell me? Well, a few things.
First, the series idea sells in both formats. It makes me think about how addicted I was to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles in the 90s. It also brings to mind how series of books turn into series of films; think Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Further delving into the land of shorter attention spans, we see a lot of television born from series of books: True Blood for example is a phenomenon not only for the hot actors but because it was a series of books first. There are so many connections to series of books it makes sense that there should be three of the same series in the top spots if they really are that good.
In addition to my downloads of the Fifty Shades trilogy, purchase of paperback Hunger Games and obsessive watching of True Blood (they all really are quite hot) I love to escape into a fantasy world every Sunday as Game of Thrones takes me away for an hour; and according to a friend who is on book four, we haven’t seen anything yet…goody! So I clearly see how people get addicted to series, whether e-format or on a printed page. Just look at Twilight for goodness sake. (I have to say for the record I would happily join team Eric of True Blood instead of taking a sparkly stance, but that’s just me.)
Another part of the series world I have noticed is that without a theme, it simply doesn’t work. If readers don’t put down the first book and say “I want some more,” in the fashion of Rice’s Claudia after her first sip of blood, authors are not going to benefit from doing a whole series. This is done with endings that are open, characters that make us feel their insane (insert earth-shattering emotion here) and of course leaving room for more twists and turns. Just like the serial killer who rises from the lake ensuring that there will be a sequel, we know a splendid first volume leaves us wanting more from its characters.
In the Indie world, there is also a plethora of series that exist. Before I saw the overwhelming pattern on the lists lately, I really wouldn’t have begun looking to see if the pattern crosses spectrums. Sure enough, it does. There are the High Heel Mysteries for those who enjoy a bit of stylish sleuthing, The Ethereal Messenger: Three Novels for those who (like me) enjoy being scared sheet-less in the wee hours of the night, and the Her Angel Series will satisfy those with a taste for angels and demons with a twist of the macabre. Variety is certainly the spice of Indie life-series included!
So what have I gained from all this analysis? A lot! Indies have come a long way, and they hold up beautifully when compared to what the big publishers are putting out. If we look at what we prefer, there are just as many Indie vampires, werewolves and zombies (probably more) as there are in the trad-pub world. Just as many damsels in distress, hauntings and scandalous sex grace the pages of Indie titles as floats down the mainstream. As far as format goes, it’s a win-win: Nook/Kindle for all the tomes that are too big to carry and sniffable leaves of printed page for those bedside (or picnic blanket) reading gems. Wherever we look we see series, and that’s seriously a bonus. There simply is no such thing as too much of a good book!