July 21st, 2008

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[links] Link salad for an Omaha Monday

Don’t forget to go sign up at the all-new tor.com — I’m jaylake there. Surprised? Lots of good stuff to be had, including a brief extension of free e-book downloads and wallpapers, as well some cool new short fiction.

Of Ostriches and Camel Spiders — If you’re not reading whafford’s LiveJournal, you really should be. Trust me on this one thing.

Creative food sculptures. — (Thanks to willyumtx.)

A quick history of tree-climbing dinosaurs — Tweet tweet. (Offer not valid for Young Earth Creationsts or ID proponents.)

Why unregulated free markets are a bad idea — (Thanks to danjite.)


7/21/08
Time in saddle: n/a (20 minute walk instead)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a
Currently reading: Green by Jay Lake

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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[poll] Book cover art

ETA: If you found this page directly and are wondering what this is about, see the explanatory post here.

Poll #1227385 Book buying habits

Did you buy books before the Internet was generally available?

Of course.
150(97.4%)
There was life before the Internet?
3(1.9%)
No, I was raised in a basket by dust mice.
1(0.6%)

In those olden times, how did you select your bookstore purchases?

Looked for authors I knew or had been recommended.
16(10.5%)
Looked at interesting titles.
3(2.0%)
Looked at cover art.
3(2.0%)
I used the library, fool.
5(3.3%)
Dust mouse literature is very limited.
0(0.0%)

How much did cover art influence you?

Unicorns = fantasy, rockets = sf, what more do you need?
34(23.0%)
Frazetta!!!
8(5.4%)
I was never the same after discovering Heavy Metal.
7(4.7%)
Didn't matter to me.
40(27.0%)
Something else I'll explain in comments.
39(26.4%)
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[books] Cover art

I was thinking random thoughts about publishing as I walked back to my hotel from dinner. (This is a sign that I continue to feel better — I’m no longer thinking random thoughts about cancer, by and large.) Back in stone age of the 1970s when I first started buying books myself, right through the mid-to-late 1990s when the Internet came into general use, my book-buying habits followed a specific pattern.

When I’d find an author I liked, I would spend time in the bookstore trying to figure out what order to read their stuff in, and whether I missing titles. Otherwise, I’d browse for interesting titles and covers. This explains the preponderance of authors with surnames beginning with /A/ and /B/ on my shelves to this day — often I wouldn’t get much further.

Judging a book by its cover is a proverbially tricky business, yet that’s what most buyers do outside of genre-specific or author-specific Fandom. There’s a whole art to cover design which is way beyond my comprehension, except for me to shout out to Tor yet again about what a wonderful job Irene Gallo has done with my covers. The Dos Santos art for Green is a trifecta in the cover lottery.

What I wonder about is how cover design has changed in the years since the Internet disintermediated detailed bibliographical information, as well as book reviews. Do people buy differently now, armed with information? I certainly do. (That, and all the ARCs and courtesy copies people mail me.) But am I an outlier? Or has the role of the book cover changed in the past 25 years?

Beats me, I have no intuition about that, but it’s an interesting question. Poll here on my LJ if you’re interested in adding your observations to a very unscientific survey of book buying habits of yore.

Other thoughts?

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.