Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Story is a Story

Audible currently has a sale going on where a lot of popular titles are only about $5. As I scrolled through, I realized that there were several books I wanted, and ended up purchasing four (after spending my credit on READY PLAYER ONE, at Marie Lu and Andrea Cremer's suggestion, and it is AMAZING).

And then I came to THE LITTLE PRINCE. I actually quite love this title--it's a beautiful book, with beautiful illustrations (and readers of A MILLION SUNS will know that I like this book so much that I made it a part of that book, too). But it's not one of the books I bought. Despite the fact that it was $5, I just did not care to own it in audiobook format.

This got me thinking: I actually have some big preferences on how I consume books. This has only happened recently--about a year after owning an ereader and subscribing to audible. I've developed a hierarchy of what format I want books in.

If it's a book with a particularly beautiful cover, a book that I know I will want to read over and over again, a book by a friend, or a book I could get signed, I want the hardback.

If it's a very long book (GAME OF THRONES, I'm looking at you), a book that I consider a "throw-away" read (such as a trashy romance novel), or a book that I already love and know I want to read again easily (i.e. on the road), I will buy an ebook. In some cases, I will buy an ebook of a book I already own, just for the portability. In my house, we have all of George RR Martin's books in both formats--my husband likes the paperbacks, my hand doesn't want to break under the weight and prefers the ebook. I also have signed hardbacks I don't want to damage, so I have the ebook, too.

If it's a book I'm only so-so excited about, but feel I should read anyway, I will get it in audiobook. There are a few titles that it feels as if EVERYONE has read, but I just can't get through--so I get it in audiobook. I listen to audiobooks while on a long road trip or while cleaning the house, which means that I somehow get over the issues that I have trouble with in the print books. These are books that seem to have a slow start, or perhaps a premise that I'm not over the moon about. I've found so many new books this way--audiobooks somehow make me get over my presumption of books that I have trouble with.

I also like audiobooks when there's a great narrator--I read Harry Potter in Jim Dale's voice now, and Wil Wheaton is definitely the voice for READY PLAYER ONE. And sometimes it's just nice to put on a well-loved story and listen away.

In short, my point is this: there's a lot of debate over ebooks or no ebooks, and formatting and everything else. But for me, there's no argument. I like all the formats for different books, and I'm just happy that I get to live in a world where they're all available.

What about you? What formats do you prefer...and why?


Anonymous said...

More often than not, I do prefer the actual book version, whether it be hardcover or paperback. Last year, when I still lived in Ohio and I wasn't starving, I spent a LOT of my time in the 'Holy Land' perusing the use of books, and I built up quite a collection. Most of them are in boxes right now, but it is a dream of mine to own a library that people can go into and read from. My parents had a similar set-up in my piano room growing up, and I want to mirror that. There's just something about feeling, holding a book in my hand that I can't get over.

As for the e-reader, I haven't really gotten used to the idea yet. I don't have one, but my mom does. Whenever I try to read books on my computer, though, it doesn't go well unless it's on

Sallie Mazzur said...

While it is nice to have books sitting very pretty-like on my bookshelf, there's only so much room for them all before I have to put some away or buy a new bookshelf (yes, I will buy a whole new bookshelf and assemble it just to avoid putting books in boxes that I'll forget I own).

I'll use your book, Beth, as as an example. When I found out about ATU, I got the preview on my ereader. I felt so immersed in that small sample that I bought the ebook right away and fell head first into my ereader. And what I notice on ereaders is that books feel smaller, or, er, less sustantial, and it might just be because of the weight difference or the way you read less by page than in a physical novel. But with ATU, I felt like it was super long and I loved it!

Now, with AMS, I had waited the year difference or however long it was, and I went out the day it released and bought the hardcover because unfortunately, having bought the ebook of ATU, I wasn't able to see the amazing cover, so I wanted to experience that with AMS.

It's fun to be able to in the middle of reading, flip to the cover and be like, "OH I TOTALLY GET IT, I think..." and then keep reading.

Now I want to go buy the ebook of Ready Player One so I can listen to Wil Wheaton talk to me. I mean, tell the story.

M. Dunham said...

We have much in common Beth. I actually do the exact same thing with my books that you do! :) Books to me are about experiencing the story in a way that suits me best. Thus, why I divide them the same way you do.

LM Preston said...

I like your hiearchy of book buying. I don't by many audio books though, but think I will try to up my numbers in them soon.

Jenny said...

I have a soft spot for traditional hardcover and paperbacks. Whether it be the feel of literally turning pages or the smell of a book, it feels so much more fun to read a book I can physically hold. I recently got into audiobooks, listening to a few that I'd already read in print, and I agree with your opinion, of listening to them while doing chores or tedious work, listening to books somehow makes it all the more fun!

Leah Petersen said...

I used to be so anti-e-book that I have a scene in my sci-fi novel where a character (in our future) encounters a tree book and he's just so amazed. It's got weight and texture and a smell and he wants to find more of these incredible things.

Yet here I am, buying e-versions of books I already own on paperback, just so I will have them readily at hand when the need to re-read THAT scene strikes.

How easily I was seduced.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I completely agree with you. That's exactly how and why I prefer my books, too. :-)

Sandy said...

I don't like being read too so I actually haven't listened to an audio book of a novel. I've listened to Benedict Cumberbatch read The Little Red Hen because the man has a voice that sounds like sweet sin dipped in dark chocolate and Little Red Hen takes about two minutes to read but I can't focus long enough and listen to someone reading a book to me for hours, I get bored or distracted and my mind just wonders off and I miss chunks of the story sadly. I think if the book had multiple readers though I wouldn't mind giving it a shot because I like listening to radio plays but one person reading a book I can't sit through.

I'm all up for paperbacks, hard covers and ebooks though, give me any of those formats and I'll gobble up the words.

Melissa Spence said...

Well we all know how Maurice Sendak feels about ebooks:

I prefer the actual books, especially when they smell good!