Be a Part of the Book Chain

thank youWorking with books all day, we often hear people rave about something they’ve just read. While they might tell quite a few people through word of mouth what they thought about that book, not everyone goes any further.

Some will go on to find that author’s website, and possibly send out an email to tell them how much they enjoyed the book. Maybe they’ll even get a response. But there is something more important, something that has more impact, that readers can do: thank an author by writing a review.

Online reviews on Goodreads and Amazon don’t always seem like they’re doing anything really important, but they are. Especially for the author. Good reviews are better than bad, but the more reviews a book has, the better it is for the author in general. A well-reviewed book means people are reading that book, which not only translates to more sales, but also to a better standing at the publishing house for that author. If you’ve ever seen debut authors on Twitter and Facebook begging for reviews, they aren’t doing it just to hear praises for their books—they need those reviews to stay relevant in the minds of the publishing business. If they want another book published, the first must garner sales and positive reviews.

Of course, this isn’t all about sales. It’s also about how it affects well known authors and publishing houses and your local library. If people stopped reviewing books, sales would plummet. When sales plummet, bookstores close and authors are not published again. When bookstores close, books either become more expensive to produce, or they will dip into the electronic production, and places like libraries will have a harder time purchasing books for patrons to read. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

So, if you love to read, make sure to do an online review for books you enjoy—Goodreads, Facebook, a blog post, a short tweet….whatever you prefer, just do it.  If you’re really ambitious, do one for every book you read. It will keep book sales high, allow authors to continue to publish, keep bookstores afloat, and allow libraries to receive funding to purchase the books their patrons want to read. We’re all a part of the book chain.

Write a review today!

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Gifting for Book Lovers

Our summer student Emma sent me this link from Buzzfeed for “24 Insanely Clever Gifts for Book Lovers”. There are wonderful ideas here for that person who might be hard to buy for, or just something unique to get for someone who loves books.  I think my favourite is this soy candle that smells like Old Books. Wonder if it really does……

candleThere are links to all of the products, so don’t forget to shop early in case they sell out. Which one is your favourite?

Read. It’s good for you!

We’re almost at the end of February, and while many of us have long since forgotten our New Year’s Resolutions, there is still plenty of time to add to your life. If you aren’t a reader, why not become one? Today. NOW! It’ll change your life in ways you can’t imagine.

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We often hear suggestions as to how to “raise a reader”.  Great ideas to get the young ones reading: talk about books, read a story before bed, read words everywhere, encourage them to read newspapers and magazines, reward great reading habits (with more books, of course!). So why is it that many adults don’t follow those ideas themselves?

I don’t have time to read.

I prefer to watch movies.

I’ll read when I retire.

These are all common excuses not to read. But when you think about the benefits of reading–stress reduction, entertainment, education etc.–it’s hard to understand why someone wouldn’t do it.  Just like incorporating a new habit like eating better or getting exercise into your life, reading has to become a learned behavior as well. You probably shouldn’t start an exercise program by running a marathon. The same can be said for reading—-don’t start with War and Peace or you’re bound to give up.

So, if you really think you don’t have time to read, how can you change your behaviors to incorporate a reading lifestyle? Try a few of these ideas to get started.  Then, before you know it, you’ll be going to the library and getting your own library card!

1.  Start small.  Only read the newspaper or magazines.  Pick a favourite…something you’d like to read each week or each month…and get a subscription.

2.  Read book reviews in those magazines or newspapers.  Does anything sound interesting? Do you see yourself leaning toward biographies or self-help books more than the latest James Patterson thriller?  Maybe you’re just a non-fiction reader! (That’s okay, too, you know! There are many great readers out there who never pick up a best-selling novel. )

3.  Ask friends for recommendations. Or go to your local bookstore and ask someone for a good read. You can also drop by a library and pick a librarian’s brain for a while. If they’re smart, they’ll ask you what you enjoy reading. (You can say you don’t, of course.)  Then, they might ask you what types of things you do in your spare time….hiking, crafting, cooking….and maybe they’ll steer you toward a great memoir. If they can’t determine what you might be interested in, walk around the store (or the library) and just “surf” the shelves.  You probably don’t have any trouble doing this on the internet.  Try it with real live books.  You might stumble upon a favourite section.

Start small, read every day and before you know it, you’ll be the one telling your friends about “that great book”!

Will They Take Your Books?

Recently, a Norwegian woman claimed Amazon wiped every book from her Kindle (remotely) and closed her account without a satisfactory explanation.  Amazon has always said they have the right to close user accounts when they feel someone has violated their agreement with the books they’ve purchased.  While many of us have faced similar problems with email or social media accounts after someone tried to access these accounts falsely, Amazon claims they looked into this and have associated her account with another one which had previously been blocked. I’m sure if someone looks into this further and decides her account was closed without merit, all of her books could be reloaded to her Kindle. Simple.  But it brings up some interesting questions about Amazon and the Kindle and the rights they have over eBooks.

After reading this article on the matter, it becomes clear that purchasing electronic books does not give us ownership over those books, only usership…if that’s a word. We can use the books the way we are supposed to (which means, read them), and hopefully not use them in other ways deemed improper.  When you purchase an actual hardcover book, you’re agreeing to the same things, really. You pay the money for the book,which is your agreement to the copyright that you will only read the book and not reproduce the book in any public format (without permission, of course).  Does that mean that no one has ever photocopied pages from a book to use in a presentation or assignment?  Probably not.  But what can booksellers do about that?  They can’t come back to a person who bought a book in their store and demand the book back simply because they heard the person read chapters out loud, for example, in public. Once they sell the book, it is up to the person who purchased it to follow the rules.

So how did Amazon KNOW  this person violated some part of their agreement? It makes me very uncomfortable to think that they are monitoring users through their Kindles somehow. We hear about this all the time with computers. It’s bad enough to think that someone knows your every move online, but to think that someone is keeping track of your reading is somewhat worse, isn’t it? And while the aspect of Amazon being able to upload books to a new Kindle after one is lost or stolen is marvelous, maybe there really should be better safeguards, such as a password, as was stated in the above article.

It’s possible that there’s much more to the story and why this person’s account was closed and her books revoked. In fact, I’m sure of it. But it sure gets you thinking about how something as simple as reading a book could possibly bring about an invasion of our so-called privacy.

What do YOU think?

Readers rarely change

This past weekend, I went to see The Hunger Games. After recommending these books for the past few years, I was so excited to finally see the big screen adaptation. While I really enjoyed it, the book was better, as is typical many times. But what really made this interesting, was the theatre full of teenagers and their enthusiastic discussions prior to and post-movie.

There are readers and there are non-readers. With the development of “trend” fiction (first Harry Potter, then Twilight, now The Hunger Games), more and more non-readers are joining the pack to see what all the excitement is about. This happens especially before and during a movie release of a “big” book. While regular readers have often already done the whole series by the time the movie version comes out in theatres, non-readers often jump on the bandwagon, curious to see what all the hype is about. I’m not complaining…anything that gets kids to read is important. (The fun thing is that a big book also brings in the parents who want to know what their kids are reading. This has been true for all three of the last trending books.) But aside from these books, non-readers probably will remain non-readers in the long run. Too bad, because there are a LOT of great books out there.

While we were waiting outside the theatre to buy tickets, a gaggle of teenage girls discussed the book vs. movie at great volume. They were excited and enthusiastic and well versed on the book. It’s wonderful when kids know all the little details, and can discuss the pros and cons of having them changed in the movie version. You’d think that a movie theatre full of kids in the 10-18 demographic would be noisy, but it wasn’t. After all, the movie-goers were readers!

Trends will come and go, and thankfully, they seem to evolve within juvenile or young adult books….right when we need to capture someone and get them into longtime reading. (Not that it’s too late when a person gets older, just that it’s relatively rare to start reading voraciously after becoming an adult.) Right now, we’re still well into the dystopian themed books (end of the world, post-apocalyptic etc.,) and it doesn’t look like we’ll see that change any time soon. It’d be nice to see a stand-alone contemporary YA book garner a little attention from non-readers, like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.  But for now, I’m happy to see young people debating the merits of a book over a movie. Speaks to my heart.

Happy reading!

Choosing Books

My five year old niece is a non-fiction reader, plain and simple.  She likes the odd picture book, but she’ll tell you straight out that she’d rather have books about animals or science or the world instead of a simple story.  Not really the thing of quiet bedtime stories, but it doesn’t seem to bother her to read about the life cycle of bugs right before bed, and in fact, she wants to hear about it. And many children are the same…..they just prefer non-fiction to sugary stories.  We have several families that come to the library and the kids will take home armfuls of books about history, the human body, animals or anything else that they are interested in that week.  And thankfully, they have parents who are supportive of their reading habits, but many aren’t.

How often do we hear parents come into the library with their reluctant-reader children and direct them to books they read when they were young, assuming that will get the kids into reading?  First of all, many times, the books we read when we were kids are no longer interesting to the children of today.  Our picture books were mainly sweet stories with beautiful illustrations…..fairy tales and books with a moral.  These days, children want colorful pictures, fun illustrations and silly characters who make them laugh.  They’ll often pass by the classics such a Where the Wild Things Are and go for The Diary of  Fly and I know it bothers some parents.  They don’t understand that their kids have been exposed to bright colors and cartoons since birth and the soft bunnies of our youthful books are boring to most.

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Last week when a woman came in and complained that her daughter wasn’t reading, I explained that I thought she probably just didn’t have the right books to read.  I tried to persuade her to take home several different types of books, such as graphic novels, YA fiction, Juvenile fiction and non-fiction, but she promised to bring her daughter back in to choose her own books.  Recently, the woman came back in all excited that she’d thought about what I said and decided that she should stop thinking about what her daughter “should” read and focused on what she thought her daughter might like to read, and it made all the difference.  She’d bought a Children’s Almanac which was filled with short paragraphs, vibrant pictures and fun facts, and her daughter LOVED it!  It may not make her a lifetime reader, but finding something she enjoyed might allow her to visit the library once in a while to find something she’d like to take home.

We should almost give little tours to parents and children to show them all of the different ideas they might choose from when first coming to the library.  It’s like shopping….you don’t do all your shopping in one aisle and you wouldn’t like it if no one told you there were more options, so why should kids be any different?  I’d go so far as to say that it’s censorship in some respect, and no one likes to think they are censoring books.

It’s just something to keep in mind if you have a reluctant reader at home.  Maybe they just haven’t found the right “aisle” yet!