I’ve started the unthinkable this week. I’m hardcore trying to organize my life. This may not seem like much, but those who know me know that this is the equivalent of me training for the olympics or attempting to fly to the moon with the power of my own arms. Of all the Virgo traits in the world, organization is the one I don’t have.
I’ve been doing things in mini-sweeps for the sake of my sanity, which brought me to my closet and bookcase yesterday…which got me thinking. I read. A lot. I don’t tend to obsessively buy books, preferring the library, but I’ve noticed an odd trend in my habits. I have my bookcase full of nostalgic stuff, my favorites, etc. I have a box in my closet filled with titles that won’t fit in my bookcase. Then I have the stacks from the library. Beyond the stuff I love that I’ve read, I have a lot of titles that I’ve picked up in recent years that I haven’t touched in favor of library stacks.
The thing is, it seems that I’m subconsciously making the choice to go after big-press titles over small press or indie. Which seems hypocritical, which is why it fascinates me. There are just as many big press titles that I’ve hated as there are small press, and I’m just as hesitant to buy an unfamiliar big press title. However, I am noticing that I don’t buy many books at cons anymore. As much as I believe in supporting authors, it gets expensive,and, quite honestly, I’ve been burned by blindly buying from people at cons. Which sucks because I feel like I should like things, but if I can’t it feels strangely personal. I feel horribly guilty. It’s partially why I don’t do official reviews here – it’s a conflict of interests and I want to maintain the friendships I have.
Still, though, I don’t like to waste money, so why am I putting off the small press/self-pub titles I own? Is this an overall trend? On FB I’m part of book groups and it looks like certain genres have tons of people buying self-pub/small press titles, people who are amazingly loyal to those authors and vocal, which also frustrates me because I haven’t gotten to that level yet. Is it a genre thing? Something else I’m missing? Some weird karma for my own reading choices?
I don’t consciously make the decision, though I do think I’m at the library more than I am digging through my closet or personal stacks (to be fair I’ve had some things piled in front of those, which also doesn’t help my case, but still). There are small press authors I truly love. Is it a competition thing? I don’t know. It also makes me wonder what the general public’s feeling on these titles is.
Is a book a book equally? Are you going to give it a chance no matter where it comes from? My grandmother used to buy stacks of books from thrift stores and garage sales without prejudice, so does it matter for you if a title comes from a convention or a book fair instead of a big franchise store or the library?
I’m curious – is there something that would make you choose one or the other, or do the things that make a title weak (bad presentation, bad writing, etc) nonexclusive to the type of publishing it goes through?
I’d love to get opinions on this. I’m going to try to make an effort to go through more of my stash, though admittedly I have a few stacks of things I really, really want to read at the moment before I get there. Which makes me wonder if I’m putting up walls, which gives me artistic guilt. Do I have some selective creative ADD? I want to support people. Is giving an author money enough, or is it nothing if you’re not actively talking about their titles, making sure you read things right out of the gate? It makes me shudder to think that most people who’ve bought my books possibly haven’t read them. There goes the whole point of my creative life, my dream, and yet here I am turning around doing it to others, and I hate that. I want to use the excuse that there are only so many hours in the day, but is that fair? I don’t know.
What about you? Do you choose books based on a certain company/type of publication? Do you care where it comes from? Do you think there is a certain favoritism in the general public when it comes to choosing titles to read, or is it just that bigger houses can market better? Tell me your thoughts and let’s figure this out!