Thursday, October 09, 2014

Judge a Book by its Cover?

I have recently noticed how dichotomous my reading life has become.

Since my day job has me in the car for about 20,000 miles each year, I am always listening to audiobooks.  In an average month, I check out six to ten of them from the library.  Though my library is part of a larger library consortium and I can get virtually any book I want by simply reserving it online, I do this infrequently.  I prefer to walk into the library, browse the extensive collection of audiobooks on the shelves, and make my selections.  I give priority to authors whose work I know and like, but if I don’t find something new by a familiar author, I am happy to start browsing the blurbs on the covers until I find something that feels like I might enjoy it. 

Physically reading a book, on the other hand, is a bit of a luxury to me.  I don’t find time every day or even every single week to sit and spend quality time with a good book, either on paper or on my Kindle.  So when I do, I want it to be a great experience.  Thus I am much more likely to splurge and buy the newest release from one of my favorite authors in that format, even if it means it might be a week or two before I shake loose the time to sit and enjoy it. 

I hadn’t even been aware of this until I read some comments on a blog about how strongly people are affected by the cover of a book.  As I thought about it, I realized I exhibit this dichotomy.  Since I am always on the prowl for new audiobooks, the write-ups on the covers of those are really important to me.  But the lovely artwork that graces print books is less so, because I am usually selecting those based on the author or a good review or a word-of-mouth recommendation. 

It’s a system that works for me.  I have discovered many new authors whose works I thoroughly enjoy by sampling one of their audiobooks first.  Since the personal investment seems so low, I find that if I listen to the equivalent of the first few pages and I find I really don’t like it, I have no qualms about giving up on that one and putting in the next.  And it is nice to be able to ensure that those golden times when I can sit and read uninterrupted long enough to get lost in the pages always give a high return.

So I’m curious, my reading friends:  how random are your book choices?  Are you driven by known authors and reviews and recommendations, or do you do random selection, literally “choosing a book by its cover?”  Is there a difference in how you approach different forms of books?  Do other people out there even DO audiobooks?  Do some treat their Kindle reading different than books printed on paper? Inquiring minds want to know!

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