Book Rant

I hate book publishers and bookstores. You hear them occasionally whine that people are reading less and less blah blah blah blah blah.

I don’t. I read anywhere from 2 to 5 books a week, ranging from science fiction to history, and I love to read. I read while pinching my morning loaf, having my coffee, at lunch, and on the porch for a few hours after dinner with welbywife next to me.

However, it’s no wonder people are reading less, and to hear the publishing industry whine about it just pisses me off. It’s your own fucking fault. A few tips from a longtime reader:

  1. Make the fucking books better. I purchased American Gods a few months ago and read it while on a business trip. Over the course of the trip the book literally fell apart. The entire back half of the book fell out after I began reading it. Ditto the paperback version of both recent Ender books, and the last two Tom Clancy books I read, and the history I read about Saladin. I’m not hard on these books, they’re either in my hand or tucked safely in my not at all crowded bookcase. So why the hell would I pay $8.00 plus for something that’s not even going to last through the first reading? I shop in used bookstores a lot, and have books that are as much as 50 years old that are still in fine shape, even though I and others have read them many times. Try making something with quality materials that’s worth 8 bucks.

  2. Make books less expensive. Paperback books are creeping into the 9 and 10 dollar range. What the hell is this? Hardcovers go for anything from $15-40 and are just as poorly made as the paperback versions. Usually, if you make a shitty product people can go elsewhere, but most of the book publishers participate in this sin of poorly made, expensive books, and you can’t buy the same book from a different source. If I want to read an author I like, I’ve got to pay. I know I can go to the library, but I have a fine private library that I enjoy adding to, and taking a book from the library won’t keep it on my shelf.

  3. Don’t just remainder the bad books. When I was a youngster I worked for Crown books, and we had to send the unsold copies of our over-ordered popular books back to the publisher, who (I was told) usually destroyed them. Why not make SOME money off of them? I know that your high powered authors might suffer a slap to the ego if they saw their books on the remaindered shelf, but what’s thier ego compared to your customer’s pocketbook? Mine would open in a flash for a hardcover of an author I like who’s books is being sold inexpensively.

  4. Quit blaming each other for books being expensive and do something about it. Your average publisher claims that it’s the book stores making all the money, the bookstores blame the publishers, and both of them blame the authors of the books. I don’t know who’s to blame, but I’m thinking that getting e-books online from illicit sources is starting to be the way to go.

I’m done venting.


Yeah!!! You go!

You did forget to add the part about goddamn taxes on books. Although, strictly speaking, that is the goddamn government (which one? Any one that taxes books!) wanting to keep the populace illiterate and ignorant so they get to stay in power.

Excellent rant, by the way. I agree on all points.

I generally agree. Dont freat though, I dont believe there is an ‘apocalypse’ for books looming over the horizon. The learned will always enjoy a good read, and the decline in reading is probably indicitve of a decline in general education. I dont see any sort of digital media rivaling books. Ive tried reading from my PDA- not fun. The utility of the book, its good size, the ability to highlight and make notes in it. The book isnt going anywhere, its just declining in demand.

About point 3 - A LOT gets published, some books are so obscure, have such little impact on the audience that even if you ran across it in the free pile at the thrift store youd be likely to pass it over. That being said I HAVE wanted to read books out of publication that I cant find and its really frustrating. So they should probably be selective about what they throw out.

For my edification, where are you getting paperpacks for $8? I usually pay $12-$20 for new paperbacks. Hardcover start over $20.

New authors are typically priced under $10 CDN - they wait until they’ve got you sucked in then jack the price.

One of the things I really hate is when the first book in a series is inexpensive, and the price just keeps escalating with each additional volume.


Depends on what you buy - I can find some paperback fiction, especially SF/fantasy/mysteries for around $8. Anything larger in format than the typical paperback, and the price shoots up.

"You did forget to add the part about goddamn taxes on books. "

That would be the sales tax and that generally applies to just about anything. Percentage may vary from place to place. Whrere I live, it’s 6-7%. Hardly enough to keep the populace “illiterate” and “ignorant”.

Besides, there’s always used book stores, which are much cheaper(half of my books come from there) and when push comes to shove, there’s the library. And if one MUST have a new book, most bookstores have a section of books on sale. You could get hardcovers in those areas for around 6.99$.

As for me, paperbacks cost about 6-7.99 and harcovers range from 19.99-29.99. Needless to say, I generally prefer paperbacks.

See? Yet another reason that Texas rots teeth. Or something like that. :slight_smile: Anyhoo, new paperbacks here in Da’ Grand Midwest go from $5.99 to $7.99. Unless, of course, they’re the paperbacks that are nearly the size of hardcovers; and those sumbitches cost 11 clams on up.

Waz wit dat?

The little paperbacks (4 1/4" x 6 3/4") are mass market paperbacks; the big ones (5 x 8 to 6 x 9) are trade paperbacks. Trade paperbacks exist for many reasons.

In some cases they’re used as an intermediate step from hardcover to mass-market. This is done with a really hot property that the publisher is trying to milk for as much money as possible. The Harry Potter books work this way: Initially in hardcover, and stay that way a lot longer than the industry standard, then trade paperback, and finally, much much later, mass-market paperback.

In other cases, the trade is the default release format for certain prestige titles–Toni Morrison or the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Trade paperbacks tend to last much longer than mass market paperbacks, and in my experience, longer than hardcovers.

Modern hardcovers aren’t really designed to be longer lasting books than paperbacks. Hardcovers have a much higher profit margin than mass market paperbacks, so publishers want to push them as hard as possible before releasing the paperback. At the same time, they want to maximize that profit margin, so the quality of construction has gradually gotten worse as prices have gone up.

If you want a truly durable book, you have to get the library binding, which, though typically not as attractive as the dust cover that comes with a standard hardcover, can withstand a near miss nuclear blast and come out intact in readable condition.

I thought it was me with the “falling apart” books. I finish reading 'em and bring them back to the store for a refund or exchange. It pisses me off when I open a book, read a few pages and have to start stuffing pages back in and being careful not to lose them.

Now before I even buy them, I open the book and flip through it a few times to check for loose pages. I, too, think a paperback should at least make it through a reading intact.

I dunno about reading getting less popular. Even down here in Texas, the Barnes & Noble near where I work is always packed whenever I stop in there, no matter what time of day or what day of the week it is. There’s always a long line at the register and lots of people there sitting around reading.

And I’d rather pay $20.00 for a big chunk of paper, ink and binding than $20.00 for a copied compact disc or DVD in a little plastic box. It’s no good if the books are falling apart on you, though. I can’t say that I’ve had that problem.

I dunno about reading getting less popular. Even down here in Texas, the Barnes & Noble near where I work is always packed whenever I stop in there, no matter what time of day or what day of the week it is. There’s always a long line at the register and lots of people there sitting around reading.

And I’d rather pay $20.00 for a big chunk of paper, ink and binding than $20.00 for a copied compact disc or DVD in a little plastic box. It’s no good if the books are falling apart on you, though. I can’t say that I’ve had that problem.

Thank You!

All in all, it still just pushes my buttons. I thank god that both of my kids like to read, though my son prefers the stuff I read and my daughter (being 16) is into the romances. I buy them books whenever they ask me, though they don’t ask very often because they know books are expensive, and my son can just raid my bookshelf. I wonder how many families can make a family expedition out of a trip to the used bookstore.

To add to my recent frustration, since I moved away from the best used bookstore on the planet (Mandala books in Daytona Beach, FL), I’ve been unable to find a decent one. Which means that I’m buying more books new, and at the rate I read, generally bookless or re-reading (a sin, unless it’s really really good) something.

I still think all of the publishers and bookstores are just bastards who need to be kneecapped and left in the street.

I love books. If I’ve got a spare minute, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than reading a good book. However–with the exception of one particular author who’s first editions I collect and a rag-tag jumble of hand-me-downs and yard-sale finds–I don’t own any books.

For all the reasons welby’s listed and more, I’m a library girl. Give me a cool quiet building, lined with books I can read for free and I don’t know that I could be any happier. Luckily, we have a great library system around here, and a new main library downtown that’s simply beautiful. I don’t know what I’d do if I lived in a podunk town with a dinky or even no (gasp) library.
Another bitch at the bookstores:
Note: You all carry exactly the same thing. We have three chain bookstores in our mall and their inventory is identical. Makes browsing a lot less fun.


Ah, but every one of those only works if they have the books I want. None of the libraries near my home do, the only things in the sale section at the bookstore are Calvin&Hobbes and cookbooks most of the time, and the ‘used book store’ is a corner full of romance novels at the thrift shop. So I try, but I’m stuck paying full cover price unless I want to try to get them on ebay or something. And once you add the shipping, that isn’t going to save me much either.

I am sick to death of crappy paste on books! I bought a new Poul Anderson (Boat of a Million Years) and I’m but 100 pages into it and the spine is already cracking! Dammit!

And just try to find the GLBT book section in small town bookstores - don’t even bother to look for a Gay Book Store. We’ve got three shelves at the local Books-A-Million. Every once in awhile Bob Smith or David Sadaris will sneak into the “mainstream” section.

[nostalgia trip]My father was an English major and tended toward 19th century British fiction and I had a wonderful time as a kid reading those books. Our house was basically decorated with full bookshelves and walls of record albums. We didn’t have a TV so what else was there to do but lose myself in Austen, Lawrence, the Brontes, Hardy, etc. Not to mention Faulkner, O’Connor, Steinbeck… [/nostalgia trip]

Unfortunately, facing his latest move, he decided not to transport the 100 boxes of books (and 7000 records) again and sold/gave them away. I only had room to score a few :frowning:

Number Six, Where can one get the Library binding? When I buy books, I usually do buy the hardcover. I’ve had pretty good luck so far, but I’d spend a bit more if I knew it was going to last.

As an aside, do the library bound books also print on paper that is a bit more acid free?

As a further aside, TELL US WHY YOU RESIGNED!! ehm. sorry.