Now that it's summer, I'm ignoring my piles of serious non-fiction books and catching up on some fiction. I just read Gregory Maguire's Wicked, which was pretty dark and not nearly as fun as the musical version (I just got the soundtrack for Father's Day). I skimmed through For One More Day by Mitch Albom - I expected it to be kind of fluffy but it was surprisingly moving. I read through Stephenie Meyer's sci-fi novel The Host, about human survivors of an alien invasion. The aliens, called "souls," physically implant themselves into human hosts, but sometimes the human's consciousness isn't completely erased, leading to interesting situations of two beings inhabiting the same body (and all sorts of potential for unusual love triangles and quadrilaterals). I've read Meyer's Twilight series of vampire novels, which are not my usual cup of tea but came highly recommended by a friend, so I got into them. And I just cracked David Guterson's new novel The Other. He's best known for his Snow Falling on Cedars, and I've continued to follow his work.
Of the making of books there is no end. Since it's summer and I'm lazy, the following is a repost from IVP's Behind the Books blog from a few weeks ago.
The June 2 issue of Publishers Weekly reports that the number of new books has shot up to over 400,000 a year, but a quarter of these, well over 100,000 of them, are print-on-demand titles, most of which are self-published. The stats:
Traditionally published books: 215,138
Print-on-demand books: 32,639
And if you look at religion books in particular, it's grown from 12,253 new religion titles in 2002 to 18,956 in 2007. (Perhaps 6000 or so of these are from specifically evangelical Christian publishers.) No wonder none of us can keep up with all the new books out there.
The same issue of PW also reports the following on what influences people's book purchases:
60% are swayed by recommendations by friends or family
52% are swayed by cover art
49% are swayed by reviews
35% are swayed by a blurb/endorsement on the cover
Also, 43% of people go into bookstores looking for a specific book, and 77% make additional purchases while looking for a specific book.
This is interesting to me because I've been wondering how many people care about endorsements. I can only think of one instance when I've bought a book because of an endorsement on the back (a blurb by Anne Lamott on the book Expecting Adam by Martha Beck). But I've picked up countless books because I saw them mentioned on people's blogs (which could count as either friends' recommendations or reviews). What makes you buy a book? Do blurbs matter?