Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had conversations with various friends about book-buying habits, the book industry, book prices, cover art (what’s gorgeous, what isn’t), and what sorts of books and authors we’ll pay hardcover prices for. In light of that, I thought I’d put together a Friday Fun Thread that asked three inter-related questions.
- What books do you generally purchase to read and own; is it random acquisition or do you have general categories of things you buy vs. borrow? (For folks who are music fans and film buffs, you might answer this for those media types as well!)
- Are there authors (musicians, filmmakers) who are on your “automatic buy” list? If so, who? Are there people who have fallen off or been added on over time?
- And finally, what do you look for in your cover art (album art)? What are some of your favorite examples of cover art from recent years? Trends in art you want to continue and/or could live without ever seeing again?
My own responses below the fold . . .
1. I generally purchase books related to my scholarly interests (history of education, history of feminism, history of sexuality, sexuality and gender activism) and genre fiction by authors I like (see #3). Since I have access to such a wide range of library options here in Boston — and since I’ve lost my bookseller’s discount — I’ve become more discerning in what I’ll actually buy. I tend to purchase a) stuff I can’t find at the library or know will never be available used, and b) random shit I discover on the $1 carts at the used bookshops … you’d be surprised by the fun you can have with what turns up in the used-used-used piles!
2. An uncomprehensive list: Patricia Briggs, Laurie R. King, Connie Willis, if they ever came out with a hardcover set of Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries, Alfie Kohn and Ron Miller (both history of education), Melissa Marr was on there for a while, but fell away … we’ll see if her latest puts her back on the list. If Emily Nagoski ever writes a sexual health guide I will need it for my reference shelf. Hanna buys all the Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson and China Mieville so we have those covered. We’re accumulating Joe Hill’s Lock & Key series and Dr. Who and Torchwood comics, both on subscription at our local comicbook shop.
3. Hanna and I were doing some book re-arrangement a couple of weeks ago and observed how gorgeous our shelves of science-fiction / fantasy / genre books were. Rich colors, subtle graphic design. There are always going to be the garish books in any genre, of course. And there are cliches across the board (Twilight imitators anyone?) … but there really are some brilliant artists working in the genre hardcover and trade paper markets these days.
This might be a little outdated, but one trend I could see die and never return is the “headless teen girl” trend in YA series paperbacks. When I was working at Barnes & Noble (2005-2007) it seemed like eight out of every ten YA title that came in featured body parts, usually neck to groin, rather than a full person. While I can get the dramatic effect (and tease) of not seeing a full person, the uniformity of the trend became tres creepy.