Thursday, 5 August 2010

Shiny New Books

It was lunch-time and I was on a mission. The doors whooshed back revealing the cool, literary interior and I have to admit, I clasped my hands in joy (then got entangled in my shawl and dropped my bag, but let’s not dwell). There is nothing nicer in all the world than the prospect of buying shiny new books. Okay, I adore the thrill of the hunt with certain second-hand books, but generally those are by authors who are sadly deceased and who I am not depriving of cash exactly (only their estate, which conjures up already rich images of stately homes and butlers). But I do love buying new books. After all, we have a vested interest, don’t we?

I employ three methods when buying new books from a shop (different rules apply for online book buying), and I usually buy new fiction as part of a ‘three for two’ deal, although there can be exceptions – presents, and when I simply-cannot-wait to read a novel.

Method one is I buy three debut books by new authors. I like to support new authors (but of course!) and it is very exciting to discover someone right at the beginning of their career. Over recent years new delights have been Jennie Rooney, Kate Morton, and Charles Eton. I am now looking forward to the 2011 debuts of S.J. Watson (Before I Go To Sleep), Andrea Eames (The Cry of the Go-Away Bird), and Talli Roland (The Hating Game).

Method two is I buy three novels whose reviews have sunk into my subconscious. I will have read about them in newspapers; they will have been mentioned by blog readers; my gaze will have idled over advertisements on the underground, and I will have spotted other people reading them. This year Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Stephen King (Under the Dome), and Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) joined my overflowing book family.

Method three is a complete mish-mash of book covers and serendipity. Sometimes the books I pick up, although not related, will have a curious similarity – all the titles will start with same letter, or they will all share the same word. If this happens then it is fate and I have to buy. I also like to buy books purely based on their jacket illustration – the covers are so important, they really give that silent flavour of the book. A recent jacket illustration buy was William Trevor’s The Children of Dynmouth (cover art by Zandra Rhodes), which totally bought into my serendipity buying as I was also holding A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. Ker-ching went the till as I bought both.

There are two other factors I take into account with new book buying, and they are Time and Money.

I am still very careful with money from the Almost Bankrupt Debacle (moral of the tale folks, never chuck in job to write novel before a recession), and it can be tricky simply finding time in the day to read. I can handle a few books in my To-Be-Read pile; too many and I tend to have a freak-out and retreat to comics for a while. It's a fine balance to tread! The last time it happened I ran back to Calvin and Hobbes. Before that I may have lurked for a while with Mandy annuals.

August is usually ‘Children’s Book Month’ for me, in which I review nostalgic and contemporary book pleasures. However, I now have a list of ‘book worm’ reviews as long as my arm to get through, so will probably chug through those instead as they are a right mixture!

Finally - count-down to contest! Three days left to enter for fab vintage prizes...


Amie Borst said...

i really like this method!
i've never really thought about why i purchase a book. sometimes it because i've heard a review or i simply adore the display stand in the store. or sometimes i buy a book just for a comp for my own manuscripts.

Happy Frog and I said...

You've made me realise how long it is since I went into a book store, had a good browse and then bought a book! I used to do this every week when I worked in London but have somehow got out of the habit. I am going to make time to do this next week!

AlphaChick said...

Oh, beautiful new books. I love this post!

Have you ever tried buying them solely on cover artwork? I went through a phase of deciding that I didn't even want a vague idea of what the book was about (from the back cover), so just bought books on the title and the cover. I'm reading a beautiful book at the moment called The Hare with the Amber Eyes selected using just this method.

I like the idea of picking them because they start with the same letter though! Might just do that next time :-)

Aubrie said...

Sounds like a great method! You are much more organized than I am in your book search!

Donna Hosie said...

I bulk buy books a couple of times a year, and just like you, I mix it up. I try and buy a debut, a classic, and a recommendation from a friend. Then I buy a pretty cover!

New books = love!

Old Kitty said...

Wow!! What methodical methods!!! So organised and well thought out. Well done you!! It's an incredible way of buying books - it's so focused!!!

I tend to do things on the spur of the moment and if a cover catches my eye in a Waterstones display, I'm inside! Then I browse and something else will catch my eye...

Oh I love the remainders section of Waterstones!!

Good luck with your competition!! Yay!

take care

Kyna said...

Well, I'm a manager at a bookstore, so I want to give you a heartfelt thank you for supporting the bookselling industry! Small bookstores, large chain stores, online stores...just keep buying books!

I loved 'Under the Dome'. It sort of took me back to old-school, pre-accident Stephen King. He kind of got away from that kind of writing, the writing that made him famous.

Also, 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. I read that book on a plane trip a few years ago, couldn't put it down. I always recommend it to customers. Very interesting point of view.

Hart Johnson said...

I LOVE books. Fortunately (since money is a big issue) my loved ones know, so I get them for gifts fairly often. I also live in a strange community--people read their books and then put them out with 'free' signs, and I walk by and take my pick (even the library does it)--it limits my choices, but this is possibly good, as there are SO MANY choices. It means when I actually BUY, it is typically from someone I 'know' from this online community. (when I'm not poor anymore, I will buy more)

Laura S. said...

You have a great method! I don't have a method. I just buy books that catch my eye. I like the method of buying three debut books from new authors. I'm going to start doing that! Thanks for sharing the methods to your book-buying madness!!! (Next to writing that's the best kind of madness there is!)

Carol Kilgore said...

I love your book-buying methods. I don't have one. Sigh. I simply go in and browse. Or go in and grab the books on my list if I'm in a huge hurry. I try to mix up new authors with my favorites, too.

Al said...

I'm random, I just buy a book that appeals on the day.
New books are too expensive down this way for me to buy many.:-(

The Words Crafter said...

I bet you get a lot read that way. I usually go on Barnes & Noble's website, look at books in a genre I like, and read all the reviews. Or, I go by suggestions of people I know...a very thorough method you have. I like that you are supportive of new authors!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love reading posts by bloggers who can't help buying books. Then I know I'm not alone. I also admit to selecting books because I fall in love with the cover art.


S J Watson said...

I'm very happy that you're looking forward to my book , Before I Go to Sleep. I think you're the first reader to have posted about it, so if you send me an email at beforeigotosleep (at) gmail (dot) com I'll try to make sure you get a copy when it comes out.