In which I have some thoughts about books, and realise how ignorant I can be.

So I’m reading Twitter last night, and I see this series of posts from @thebooksluts. (Used with permission)
Insatiable Booksluts ‏@thebooksluts

“Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”
Sorry, but I have no sentimentality for paperbacks. I don’t want it forced on me. Some books need hard copy; this one doesn’t.
A book that is photo-heavy, or one that has special formatting a la House of Leaves: Yes. A pulp paperback, no.

I interjected with a question: “I guess I’m confused here… Why do you feel that “Joyland” is being forced on you? Did I miss something?”

She replied: “with his (Stephen King’s-ta) choice to publish it only in paperback because of his own pulp paperback nostalgia. /shrug, as a consumer, I don’t appreciate my formats being limited because of the author’s feelings about formats.”

And that’s cool, because I suppose everyone’s got their opinions, but it got me thinking about the books I read when I was younger, and the ones I read now that I’m aware of different options in format and availability.

What I mean by that is, options like the library, so you can read it for free, new book stores, used book stores, Hardcover, paperback, trade paperback and of course the E-book format that didn’t even exist when I was a younger man.

My Mom worked at a bookstore when I was in junior high and High School, and I would go and visit her at work and pick up the odd book here and there, and I remember most of them being paperbacks.  Brian Daley’s “Han Solo at Star’s End?” (And the two sequels) Paperback.  David Morrell’s “First Blood?” paperback.  Most of the early Stephen King I read ( Started with “Carrie,” and  jumped to “Firestarter”, eh, I digress) was in paperback, and format didn’t matter, I just wanted to read the story.

As I got older, and started paying attention to when books were coming out and understood that you had to wait for paperback, I decided that I would buy all the Stephen King in hardcover, because it looks totally badass to have an entire bookcase stuffed with Stephen King hardcovers, and of course I read them at the time, because to not read your favorite author when you have the book in your hands is silly.  (My exception to that was “The Dark Tower” series, where I have the trade paper, ’cause I bought the first three as a set, and since I classify DT as a seperate body of work from “mainstream” King, it made sense to me. The exception to THAT exception is Book 7, because I found a hardcover version in a library book sale room and who am I to blow against the wind? But I digress, again.)

When the paperback came out, I would buy what I termed my “Reader’s Copy,” because I want to re-read the story, but hardcovers can be bulky, awkward and hard to travel with.  Those of you who read my last blog about book size relating to comfort know what I’m saying. And yes, E-readers (I have a nook) make the concept of “reading copies” easier to deal with.

Which brings me back around to the “Joyland” controversy. I see King’s point. The “HARD CASE CRIME” imprint, as I understand it, is a throwback to the pulpy style of crime novels back from World War II through the 1960s, and obviously, E-books didn’t exist back then, and they were/are meant to be paperback. King also expressed an interest in getting people back into physical bookstores.  Noble goals to be sure, and that’s how it was done back in the day, so that’s fine too.

(Yeah, I know there’s an audio version.  Don’t get me started on that.  “Blood and Smoke” was supposed to be audio-only, but all three stories wound up in “Everything’s Eventual,” and “1408” made it to the movie screens.)

So I wondered what the big deal was.  Then I read this:

And I realized what a close-minded jerk I was.  Not thinking about the bigger picture of people with arthritis and allergies and not being able to focus on audio books. I am fortunate enough that, even with a cataract in one eye (post vitrectomy for a detached retina), that I am still able to read regular paper books (and signs, and drive and on and on).

So I say bring on the E version of “Joyland.” Unky Steve, I say this with all the love in the world for your work (Except “Tommynockers,” that one didn’t work for me.), it’s a brave new world out there.  Set “Joyland” free so everyone can enjoy it too.

Thank you for your time and attention.

PS: IMHO, the reviewer that SJ quoted in her post is disillusioned.  Yes books are fun.  But they are also our friends. I certanly don’t crack my friends spines or half drown them in a pool. (If you’re in a pool, SWIM!) I confess to creasing a corner or 5 before I knew better, but to say “Only real book lovers know what I mean” about “literary emergencies?” I hope your high horse steps into a hole and you fall off the horse into a puddle of mud. Where I’m sure YOUR books will be happy.


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