A strong self-publishing market almost single-handedly pushed traditional print book sales up six percent in 2011 from the previous year. How do you choose which books to dip into: From the national best seller lists? Because it seems everyone is talking about them? Following a literary blog (if you don't already know what that is, you soon will)? Just browsing the used book section in stores and libraries (not for you “Kindlers”), hoping to serendipitously latch on to great reads you'd never heard of for a bargain price? Once you've cracked open a book (or powered up your Kindle?), do you commit to finishing what you started to read? Or do you “audition” your books, giving them a set number of pages to engage or lose you?
My reading habits have changed over time. Years ago, I used to commit to finishing any book I started. Now, unless I'm reading a book specifically to cull information, it has to have either a provocative plot or stunning writing to retain my attention. At least one book in five that I start will go to the recycle pile to be re-sold or donated before I get through chapter three. It's not that I read less; it's that I'm more selfish with my time. One of my favorite authors was James Michener (Tales of the South Pacific; Sayonara; Hawaii; The Source; and The Covenant, to name a handful of the novels from this prolific author). But I wonder: If I were finding his great books for the first time today, would I have the patience to work through the often-stiff, dry first chapters to get to the juicy parts?