can’t get no instant gratification

Books to the Ceiling (what a charming image) has a thorough and thoughtful review and appreciation of Karin Fossum’s The Water’s Edge.

Bernadette reacts to Don’t Look Back, also by Karin Fossum. This is the first in the Sejer and Skarre series, but you don’t have to read them in order. Both books have the same quiet but intense suspense that comes from the slow fuse smoldering in a very believable situation. “Without car chases or guns blazing,” Bernadette says, “the story managed to be suspense-filled and captivating from beginning to end as Sejer and Skarre teased out important details about village life from its inhabitants . . . Don’t Look Back has all the things I love most in crime fiction: interesting, believable characters, a puzzle-like plot, a setting I can get lost in and a tangible credibility that sometime somewhere that exact scenario has played itself out in reality. Or will one day.”

Norm (aka Uriah) has been trying to put off reading the last chapters of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest because, well, they are the last. Period.

And Harvill Secker will release an e-book version of Henning Mankell’s The Man From Beijing before they release the hardcover. The prices will be the same, though – no deep discount  for the e-book as Amazon has been doing.

I find myself wondering about the old practice of expecting people (in the US, at least – not sure what the practice is in the UK) to wait a year for a relatively inexpensive  paperback edition of a book to be published. That once made some kind of sense; it was generally timed to promote a new hardcover title of the same author. If you wouldn’t pop full hardcover price, you could indulge in the mass market younger sibling. But books have a notoriously short shelf life (Michael Korda said it was shorter than yogurt many years ago – it’s certainly no longer now) and inexpensive editions are available online almost immediately because of the ubiquitous used book market. When to release the e-book is a new dilemma – early on, for early adopters? A few weeks later, so traditional booksellers will have a slight edge, briefly? From the reader’s perspective, it would make much more sense to have a choice of formats right away. I know a lot of older readers whose wrists hurt if they have to hold a hardcover. I, on the other hand, don’t much like mass market because I have to wrestle the books to stay open and the type is often too small. Then again, a lot of new books are being released in trade paper only, which annoys people who are serious about buying books. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have not only a format choice, but a price-point that suits you? Right now?

Telling consumers to wait a year to have a choice of formats seems unlikely to be sustainable in an era of purchasing songs one at a time,  Tivo-ing your television so you aren’t tied to a network’s schedule, and streaming films to your computer just as soon as the popcorn has popped. Maybe it’s time to give readers some control over their timing and preferences, too.  Really, wouldn’t it be wise to make your audience happy? Right now?

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One thought on “can’t get no instant gratification

  1. Thanks for the mention. One good thing about discovering such a wonderful author later than everyone else is that I have a nice lot of books to look forward to.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your last point. These days I don’t wait if I don’t want to for the books that are released in the UK and US, I just order them online. I’d be happy to go to a bookstore here and buy them but if everyone online is talking about a book and I decide I want to read it too then I won’t wait for territorial publishing rights anymore. Why should I? Even with e-readers publishers are still trying to carve up the world so that an e-book available to my American sister-in-law isn’t also available to me (at least not legally). What nonsense

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