Thursday, October 26, 2006

Book buying habits

Mystery writer JA Konrath has plenty of great information for budding novelists over at his blog,

One thing Konrath writes of fairly often is that a writer should remember that he is a book buyer too, and should pay attention to one's own book buying habits. For instance, he raises the question, how often do you buy a new writer's first novel? For most of us, the answer is probably, "Not very often, if ever."

So, this got me to thinking. What are MY book buying habits? I've mentioned some of my reading habits elsewhere on my blog.

When I was a kid, in the late 70s and early 80s, my options were quite limited. I lived in Lexington, Ky., and there weren't a lot of bookstores, mainly a Waldenbooks at one mall and another at a shopping center. About all that was available to buy were Tolkien, Terry Brooks, the Thieves' World books, and later the Dragonlance novels.

To fill my need for fantasy and sci-fi, I joined a writer's book club in which you order four books for a buck and then in the next year you have to buy four more books at regular price. Here I discovered Asimov and McCaffrey, as well as Stephen King.

In 1986, a miracle happened. Josph Beth Booksellers opened their first store, and it happened to be in Lexington. Since then JoBeth has opened stores in 5 or 6 other cities, and they have became a small chain somewhat similar to Barnes & Noble, but much more intimate and in touch with their community.

Anyway, Joseph Beth opened, and revealed to me whole new worlds and writers. JoBeth gave me Poe, Heinlein, Bradbury, Lovecraft and more. I spent most of the late 8os devouring everything horror, from King to Koontz to Saul to Straub to McCammon.

Then in 1990 I decided to get serious about my writing. I wrote 75,000 words to a horror novel titled "The Storm," and to this day I've yet to finish it (though I still have plans for it at some point). I also got serious about my reading, and decided to read all the classics because I felt a "serious writer" should know the classics. I spent the next couple of years discovering plenty of classical writers, and I fell in love with the works of Twain, Dumas, Melville and Jules Verne.

Most of the rest of the 1990s I stayed away from speculative fiction, other than an occassional horror novel. Fantasy and sci-fi seemed "all done" to me. There are some exceptions, however. During the 90s, I re-discovered comic books, or, at least, graphic novels. Alan Moore and Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman and Dave Sim more than filled my need for spec lit.

Then I suffered from writer's block for five years. I've covered that elsewhere. The last few years, I've been catching up on my fantasy reading again. Unfortunately, most of the modern fantasy I read I tend to find subpar; it's not all awful, but it's not great. Though I have discovered the Wagner's Kane stories and Cook's "Black Company" tales. I've read a good bit of R.A. Salvatore, Paolini's first book and some Terry Goodkind. I've a Brian Jordan book I plan to get to sometime, and I've read Peake's Gormenghast trilogy.

Though I spoke mostly about "reading" above, I mainly was talking about what I had been buying during those periods. Does it prove anything? No, other than I've got plenty of reading to still catch up on.

Happy reading to you.

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