This is the conclusion to the 2 part series on reading habits (or not reading, if you caught the first half.) Today we are joined by Pamela, from Year Round Thanksgiving
Pam reads more than anyone else I know, so I thought she would be perfect to provide contrast to our previous guest. She has some really interesting answers, so authors, if you are wondering what makes your book sell, have a read.
Ionia: Why do you read so much? There are so many forms of entertainment, but what makes you come back to books?
Pamela: I have always been a reader. I grew up loving books. One of my fondest memories as a very young child, was “running away from home”. My mom had made me do something I didn’t want to do (but I am sure now that it was something I should do) and so I announced that I was going to run away from home. Back then, suitcases were those hard sided ones. I proceeded to pack it full of my books to take with me. No clothes or toys, just books. And then I asked my mom is she would carry it for me so I could run away from home because I could only drag it as far as the end of the driveway.
I’m not really much of a television watcher. I do love movies in the theater, but if the movie is based on a book I’ve read, I’m nearly always disappointed. Books capture my imagination and feed my soul.
Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?
Pamela: What better way to spend an afternoon than in a bookstore or library? I can browse for hours. I think that the cover of a book is the first impression. It doesn’t mean that is all I consider, but that is what draws me to look at it. From there, the genre and the book blurb have to captivate me. Of course, most of the indie books are not in the bookstores or libraries and I find those through some of the promotional sites, blogs, and word of mouth.
Ionia: How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?
Pamela: Of course I read YOUR reviews and have picked up several books because of that. I don’t generally read reviews of books on the sites where I’m purchasing a book. Reviews can be so skewed by the readers. I rely heavily on the book description. I don’t notice the star ratings as much either.
Ionia: Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?
Pamela: There was a time I would have answered this question with “I will NEVER read other than a paper book”. Then I bought a Nook. I was hooked from the beginning. I could carry dozens of books with me all the time. About that time I also noticed that I began reading more and more. I was already a voracious reader, but my Nook (Julio is what I named him) was so easy to carry with me everywhere…and I did. But then I realized that so many indie books were only available on the Kindle platform. So I bought a Kindle. They fit so easily into my purse or briefcase so I always have one of them with me. No more outdated boring magazines in waiting rooms. Plus, when I’m reading on my Kindle and fall asleep, it doesn’t (a) hit me in the head and (b) keeps my place. I still love to touch books, smell books, and hold paper books, but I prefer reading electronically.
Ionia: You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me, or do you ever give up before finishing?
Pamela: I don’t very often quit reading a book. I guess it is that hopeful nature I have that keeps me going. But I do have to say that if a book can’t capture my interest or attention in the first 25-50 pages, there is a strong chance that I may just give up. There are so many really good books to read that I don’t feel it is necessary to read a book that doesn’t hold my attention. There have been some very popular mainstream books that I just couldn’t get through. I’m trying to think of the name…I saw the movie and it was good, but the book just couldn’t keep my interest. Oh, I know, it was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson. Everyone said after the first 100 pages, it got interesting. I just couldn’t wait and gave up. If it is an indie book and has obviously not been proofread or edited, there is also a good chance I will just put it aside too.
Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?
Pamela: I love indie authors. But I also love some really big name authors. I have noticed that some of the bigger names aren’t necessarily good books. There seems to be a tendency for their books to start feeling the same as their last one, even if they aren’t in a series. I want something that is original. My preferred genre is thriller/suspense/mystery and there seems to be a formula for those books. But character development and plot twists and turns still keep me reading. I realize that much of life is a pendulum. Right now my pendulum has swung toward the indie author/publisher. I throw in a mainstream mass market book from time to time though.
Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?
Pamela: As I mentioned before I really enjoy the suspense/thriller/mystery books. But I have been branching out with genres. Historical Fiction is another favorite of mine. But I will read just about anything. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi though. Or romance. I avoid romance books most of the time. Isn’t that ironic? I write love poetry and yet I don’t like romance books. Hmmm maybe I should read more romance.
Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?
Pamela: I remember the days that I bought all of my books in hard cover…at $19.99 up to $29.99 each. So, purchasing a book that is $9.99 is still a bargain. I am not dissuaded from reading something on my Kindle by price generally. That being said, if I spend $10-$15 on a Kindle book and it isn’t well written or edited, I’m not happy. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see how much I spend on Amazon in the course of a year. I keep thinking how nice it would be to win one of those sweepstakes where the prize is $1000 at Amazon. Wouldn’t that be fun? As much as I enjoy reading, I also enjoy finding new books and buying them for my to-be-read queue.
Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?
Pamela: Oh dear, someone told you about me, didn’t they? I have just enough OCD tendencies that I couldn’t possibly read books in a series out of order. And if I enjoyed the first one, I most certainly will buy every single one in the series…in order. But I also purchase books from authors, even those not in a series, so I will have them all. In fact, I have every Stephen King book he has published in hard cover copies. But I also have a lot of them for my Kindle. As I said earlier, I prefer reading on my Kindle so I want them to read in that format. But my bookshelf wouldn’t be complete without every single one of his books on it.
Ionia: Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?
Pamela: What a great question. Until I published my own book, I had no idea about the sales ranking. Obviously then, it didn’t impact my purchasing decision at all. Even now that I know about the sales ranking, I rarely pay attention to it. I think it is the thing that the authors love (at least when the numbers are good), but from a reader standpoint, not so much.
Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?
Pamela: The only place I really notice book advertising is on blogs and through the multitude of “free and bargain book” sites. I subscribe to several of those and I find a lot of really good books that way. I may not buy them at the time, but I add them to my wish list.
Oh my, I just realized that we’ve been talking for a long time. I know you are busy and I’m sorry if I talked too much. But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects.
Thank you so much for being here today and giving us some insight into the mind of someone who really loves literature!