May 21, 2013

Chasing Tale [5/21/13]: E-readers for Everyone? I'm not Convinced, Yet.

Chasing Tale is a regular look at the books that I recently added to my to-be-read pile. Some are advance review copies, some I bought from one store or another, and others are freebies from promotional offers that caught my eye.

I finally saw a TV ad for a free e-reader, this year. Well, almost. One of the major telcos added the enticement for a free Kindle to new customers who signed on for a multi-year contract with a particular smart phone. Now, if you have the coin for that, the free e-reader is probably as much of an enticement as those old football phones were for subscribing to Sports Illustrated, back in the day. By that, I mean not very. Still, the prices of e-readers are getting better and better--but are they in the price range of the poor?

Look, there are more people in the western world living at or below the poverty line than we might care to admit. Books have always had a bit of a class system to them. I mean, if you were poor, you weren't likely to be rushing out to pay in the neighborhood of thirty bucks for a brand new hardcover. You either waited for the paperback, or hit up your local library or used-book shop. The availability of books to communities at large is possibly the most noble and pivotal ingredient for a civilized society. Eh, hyperbole, perhaps, but there are days when it feels threatened. It's not like buying an electronic device (let alone multiple for a household) just to to be able to read is an added expense that cash-strapped families are all that keen on facing in the future.

I can appreciate the doomsday scenarios bandied about by critics of e-books and digital publishing. Physical books have attained an almost ubiquitous presence in the western world. Hell, we use them to prop up wobbly tables, that's how prevalent they are. Now, with e-books becoming the new normal, the diversity and availability of physical books appears to be contracting. It's the idea that books could become less accessible to those who can't afford gadgets and gizmos that troubles me.

I hear some folks talk about publishers as the gated communities that keep would-be authors out. But, what if e-books become a gated community that keep would-be readers out?

This is all just muddled humming and hawing, but I'd like to know what you think. Oh, and maybe let me know what interesting books you've collected recently. Here's what I've got:

Lee edited by Cameron Ashley and Andrew Nette - If you don't know the name Lee Marvin, then you should remedy that. A group of authors banded together to write noir-ish tales, all with Lee Marvin as the central character. Yeah, I didn't waste any time buying this one.

Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block - If I'm going to read a Lawrence Block novel, why not start with the first one ever published under his own name. I took a peak at his afterword and I'm definitely looking forward to reading this, now.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle - There was a movie adaptation of this book a couple years ago. I remember this only because the trailer made it look hackneyed and wretched. Still, the book got rave reviews, and Doyle is a recovering Simpsons writer, so when I spotted it at my local library's fundraiser book sale, I got it.

The Mountain King by RickHautala - Is that a sasquatch on the cover? It'd be cool if it was. In any case, Cemetery Dance had this ebook on sale for a buck not too long ago, and I figured I could add one more of Hautala's novels to my digital shelf.

Kill Whitey by Brian Keene - The title for this one drudges up memories up Homie the Clown for some reason. Neither here nor there. Cemetery Dance published this book too, with the introductory price of a dollar, and with Keene's name on the cover, I couldn't buy it fast enough.

Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale - It had been several months since I bought a book from The Book Depository, and they ended up sending me a 10% coupon. This was the first book that popped into my brain, when trying to decided what to buy. I'm already a fan of the man's work, and this is supposed to be his best yet. Sold.

More Forensics and Fiction by D.P. Lyle - I only have a handful of books on my shelf that are resources for story research, and research is an aspect of writing I wish was more convenient. Pipe dream, right? Anyway, with a need for some info on forensics, I was pointed towards Douglas Lyle and his books, and found this one.

Nightsiders by Gary McMahon - Another DarkFuse novella, this one from Gary McMahon, and it looks like it has a haunted house. I already like it.

Meat Camp by Scott Nicholson and JT Warrenc - Finally, a low-key literary exploration on industrial meat production--sorry, what's that? It's not? It's a blood-and-guts horror story about teens in the woods? Oh ... Well sh*t, that works, too.

Walk the Sky by Robert Swartwood and David B. Silva - This short western novel came out just a short time after Silva's tragic passing. It sounds gritty and gruesome as heck, and with a western backdrop, I'm sure I'll find plenty to like about this one.

Shakedown by Charlie Stella - Heath Lowrance's blog, Psycho Noir, has a 10-part retrospective on noir fiction with a ton of authors and recommended reading. While typing a bunch of the names into Amazon, I found this book in the Kindle Store for a buck. Nice.

Bank Shot by Donald E. Westlake - The Dortmunder caper novels were recommended to me a while back, and shortly thereafter I saw the second book in the series on Amazon for a couple bucks.

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters - Remember those mashups from a few years ago that were all the rage? Well, I listened to Winters' contribution to the fad, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but didn't like it all that much. Still, this apocalyptic novel earned itself an nomination for the Edgar award, with a premise I find intriguing, so I decided to add it to my digital shelf.


  1. I'm a little better off financially than I used to be - but I can remember a day when the purchase of a cup of coffee was a serious economical decision.

    You do have a point. Still - I remember when calculators came out as well. Those big old Texas Instrument monsters that cost so much that "Only rich people owned them." Then the price plummeted.

    The fact is - even "poor" people own a cell phone these days - although I still haven't swallowed that particular glass of neon-flavored Kool-Aid.

    Tides do turn.

    As for the books you picked up GRIFTER'S GAME is a great little read - and MOUNTAIN KING - particular for it's final scene - is a pretty cool little yarn and one of my favorite Hautala's.

    The Lee Marvin collection sounds pretty wild - and I just finished Lansdale's EDGE OF DARK WATER and it was freaking brilliant.

    A great blog, as always.

  2. I don't have an ereader, not sure I ever will. I guess when they can make them smell and feel like a real book, I might consider one.

    And by the way, I love The Last Policeman, and have an ARC for the second book waiting to be read.