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How Long Do You Take?

Sunday, November 26, 2006
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Maili’s post about readers being gamblers got me thinking about how much longer I take in bookshops now than I used to do.

I used to go into the stores, zero in on my auto-buy authors, then browse until something caught my eye. I’d usually end up buying six or seven books, and there was always one book that had my blood pumping in anticipation.

This whole process used to take twenty minutes, tops.

Those were the good old days. As time marches on, and as I read more dross, I find that I’m taking longer to select books, and making fewer purchases.

I was in Borders the other day, and I was in there for over an hour and a half. I left with exactly two books, which were both reissues of Nora Roberts’s MacKade Brothers series. I wanted to see if they were as good as when I’d read them over ten years ago.

When I left the shop, I felt very frustrated at not having picked a book that made me want to rush home and read it immediately.

I felt cheated because that rush of anticipation wasn’t there, after all, I’d already read the books that I did buy.

I used to gamble a lot more, in terms of the books I used buy, but these days because there’s so much crap out there, I’m less willing to spend my hard earned pennies on books by authors I’ve never heard of. Sad aint it?

So, how long does it take you to buy a book these days? Are you an in and outer, or are you one of those annoying people like me who spends two hours browsing and ends up buying sweet FA?

By the way, I took a book back to the shop, for the very first time the other day. Surprisingly, it was a Linda Howard book. Almost Forever has to be the worst Howard book that I’ve ever read. Fucking annoying heroine, an arseholic hero who should have been drowned at birth, or neutured, and a storyline with more holes in it than OJ Simpson’s account of why he ran from the cops. Big. Effing. Sigh.


  • fiveandfour
    November 26
    9:50 pm

    It kind of varies for me. I hadn’t read anything in the romance genre for quite awhile so for a long time there I was playing catch up (still am, actually – for example, I’ve read a grand total of 1 of Nora Roberts’ books) with getting books from the 1990s forward that I hear people talk about as having stood the test of time.

    On those days when I have a hot lead, it’s a very quick process to walk in, grab a few things, and jet back out. Other times, I sit down and read a chapter or two to see if anything can catch my interest. And it’s quite sad sometimes just how many first chapters I have to read before I come across anything I’d care to spend my money on.


  • Sarah McCarty
    November 26
    10:21 pm

    These days, I go to the bookstore for the coffee. *G* Not really, but with online resources, I don’t shop the way I used to. I’m a really picky reader. Always have been. When I buy a published book, I expect a mature writing style, a demonstratd understanding of the craft, a strong voice, and (natch) a brilliant story. *G* In the last few years with the proliferation of plot driven books in the romance genre that only give a nod to characterization, I’ve learned to shop online first to avoid disappointment. (nothing wrong with plot driven books. I just NEED strong characterization when I’m reading romance.) Next, I check the review sites, blog reviews and then off to author websites for excerpts. Excerpts are the number one tool oon which I buy or don’t buy. Oh, and lately, I’ve decided book trailers annoy me. They don’t bother me if they are the type I have to click on to activate, but the ones that pop up and interfere with my music or scare the beejeezus out of me with a sudden roar of sound through my headsets make me leave a website like lightning. Pretty much, I’m at the website to read an excerpt. I don’t need to be tempted and I don’t want to be annoyed. It’s a new pet peeve, can you tell? *G*

    Assuming the excerpt caught my interest, I’ll put it on the list. After I compile my list, I go to Borderstores.com to see if all the books on my list are in stock. If they aren’t, I just order online. Along with noise on websites, driving an hour to a bookstore to find they only have in stock one book on my list (or worse NONE) is another annoyance I tend to avoid. I do miss the fun of browsing, but either my taste in books is far different than the norm, or they just don’t stock books like they used to, because it’s rare I compile a list of four just released books and find even 2 of them on the shelves.

    So, uhm, I guess I used to browse and enjoyed it because at the end of the day, I knew I’d walk out with tons of books but now I find the browsing depressing becuase there’s often no reward for me at the end in the form of a bunch of new books to read.


  • katieM
    November 27
    1:55 am

    I used to go to the bookstores once a month and browse for up to an hour. I’d browse in the romance sections, the mystery section, and the science fiction section. Invariably I’d leave with 9 or more books. Now, I’m lucky if a find one. Books are expensive and I work hard for my money. I’ve been burned too many times with really bad books. For the last year or so I’ve been buying books online. Like Sarah, I check online reviews and comments before I spend the money. In general, I’ve been pleased with my purchases, but I miss roaming around the bookstore, touching the spines to feel the raised print, smelling the papers and flipping the pages to read from the center of the book.

    I think bookstores selections are limited to NY Times bestsellers. That’s why the romance section and the science fiction sections are so small. I once went into Borders and the science fiction section was limited to almost exclusively Star Wars, Tolkein, and Star Trek. Now, I love me some Star Trek, but its like candy: you do get tired of it after a while. I like finding new authors, but it just doesn’t seem possible in today’s bookstores.


  • sallahdog
    November 27
    2:49 am

    Thank YOU!!!! I hated that Linda Howard book too… Actually its one of her early books, and I found the fact that she forgave him after completely using her absolutely unbelieveable…

    I rarely go to bookstores anymore, if I do, its usually because there is a book there that I didnt get ordered from Amazon … I find that I am reading more and more dreck also (especially since I like paranormals and everyone and their brother is writing them these days), I have gotten a lot more gunshy, waiting for good reviews from people I trust…


  • Anonymous
    November 27
    8:20 am

    I’ll always love the bookstore experience. I can’t imagine ever giving it up completely. The smell of new books, well, I think it’s divine. If time allows I love to take my time and browse, but I’ve always shopped with a list in my hand or I get too distracted and forget what I came in for.

    Like others have posted I check reviews and often will try a book because someone online raved about it. I’m always willing to try a new author, genre, etc. My best purchases have been from recs from online readers. Who can forget your glowing review of THE SWEET GUM TREE? I bought the book on that alone and read a terrific book as a result.

    Most of the time I know what I want before I go to the store. If they don’t have it, I’ll browse. The big difference is that I used to never leave empty handed and now I do.


  • LorelieLong
    November 27
    11:15 am

    “I used to gamble a lot more, in terms of the books I used buy, but these days because there’s so much crap out there, I’m less willing to spend my hard earned pennies on books by authors I’ve never heard of.”

    Is it really that there’s more crap or that your tastes have just gotten pickier? I’ve noticed this in people who read Romance over a long term. It’s especially noticable when people go back and read ones they used to like – for example, when I started reading romance I freaking LURVED me some Jude Deveraux. Enough that I kept every single one. Now there’s only like two that I can re-read. I bet newbies could still go browse for hours and buy stacks.


  • Valeen
    November 27
    2:22 pm

    **shudder** ALMOST FOREVER — I’d almost removed that book from my memory completely until it was mentioned here. I’m eternally grateful that this book was not the first LH book I’d ever read – otherwise I seriously don’t think I would have picked up another one.


  • sallahdog
    November 27
    2:46 pm

    I do want to mention that I no longer trust Amazon reviews…. when I was a newbie to Amazon I bought a few books based on the recomendations and found myself completely flummoxed. I couldnt believe the book described was the book I was reading… So now I tend to lurk review sites with reviewers I know tend to like the same kind of books I do…. It doesnt stop me from making a mistake now and then, but its stopped another mistake like this one…. Completely unreadable



  • Katharina
    November 27
    4:55 pm

    Urgg, Almost Forever defenitely isn’t my favorite Howard, though I still think that An Independant Wife is the worst in her lot – the one and only of her back list I didn’t finish *g*. I prefer her romantic suspense titles, even when I don’t really like them (like Dream Man) they still belong to the crème de la crème 🙂

    I envy you all those book stores, of course we have them too, but mostly stocked with German titles.

    In my six year long romance reading career I’ve become incredibly picky. I started with buying numerous romance books, the only condition was that they had one of “those” covers. Today I agonize for hours, research the book, read excerpts and read two or three reviews.

    The best thing for me was to join two yahoo groups and Rosario’s Reading Journal, recommendations from people who have similar reading tastes and don’t whitewash – that’s how I find good books nowadays.


  • Anonymous
    November 27
    7:46 pm

    I can browse for hours. My favorite places to go are the book store or the library. There’s just something about it.


  • Karen Scott
    November 27
    9:10 pm

    FiveandFour wrote:
    I sit down and read a chapter or two to see if anything can catch my interest. And it’s quite sad sometimes just how many first chapters I have to read before I come across anything I’d care to spend my money on.

    I do exactly the same thing, this is more likely to happen with new- to-me authors than with authors I’m familiar with. I’ve never read a Jayne Anne Krentz book so a while ago, I picked out one of her books and sat down in the store and read about three chpaters. I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by the book, I can’t actually recall what it was called now.

    Sarah, I love the fact that all Borders have a Starbucks coffeeshop attached to them, there’s nothing nicer than getting a Raspberry Frappuccino and sitting down with a good book,on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the only problem is that finding good books is getting harder and harder.

    I utilise Amazon a lot, mainly because our Borders romance stock is very limited. I was in raptures whilst in the States because I could get all the books that aren’t stocked in England.

    Katie I do check reviews a lot more now than I ever did, but I tend to avoid the dreck review sites which give A’s to everything (Cupid’s Library) and rarely find faults with them even when the flaws are glaring. I tend to take note of reviews by Jen and Lori at Don’t Talk, Just Read… as we seem to have similar reading tastes.

    Sallahdog, I didn’t recognise her hand in Almost Forever at all. That book had every pet hate I have with regards to heroines and heroes. When I compare that car crash of a book to the fantastic Cry No More, I shake my head in wonder.

    Rosie, wasn’t The Sweet Gum Tree magnificent? I have to agree, my best purchases have been from recs from other bloggers, and not necessarily review sites.

    Lorelie, perhaps I am getting pickier, but I’ve gone back and re-read books that I read umpteen years ago, and a lot of those books have stood the test of time. Case in point, Nora Roberts’ Mackade Brothers series were still as good as when I first read them.

    Valeen, If Almost Forever had been the first LH book I’d ever read, I also probably wouldn’t have read another of her books. That booked sucked arse big time.

    Sallahdog, I never read Amazon reviews, other than to find out what the book’s about. By the looks of the book you linked to, the reviews varied from 1 stars to 4 or 5 stars, so I’m thinking that the author probably wrote the shiny happy reviews (or got her friends and family to post them) to counteract the ones that sliced and diced it to bits.

    Katharina, I’ve never read Indpendent Wife, and if it’s as poor as Almost Forever, it’s probably one that I’ll be avoiding in the future.

    In England we’re also limited when it comes to good romance books. I rarely enjoy contemps set in England, or Scotland which is a bit of a problem, as the bookshelves here are littered with such books (not Scotland so much).

    Devonna, I love the library, and can easily spend hours there, even though my local library haven’t purchased new books since the early nineties.


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