Events of Note: Neil Gaiman & my Kindle

Item #1: I’m going to a Neil Gaiman book signing.

I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the cultural hub of Michigan (it’s not a lofty goal, but AA does it in a lofty way) for three years as a college student. I got my BA in English and Spanish, and not once did I go to a book signing.

Now I live 30 minutes away from AA, and I’m going to make up for lost time, starting in July with Neil Gaiman. He’s one of my favorite authors (Coraline, Stardust, American Gods, Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett, review here], Sandman, The Graveyard Book, and numerous other wonders), and this is supposedly his last ever U.S. book tour. I am so freaking excited.

As I scurried from site to site, trying to figure out how in the world I could reserve my spot, I stumbled across the correct information on the website of the bookstore “hosting” the event, Nicola’s Books. Tickets are bought through ticketmaster for $30-$60, and the event isn’t at the bookstore itself—it’s actually at the Michigan Theater, a historic theater that is frequently home to film viewings, orchestras, bands, musicals, plays, and lectures. 

It makes me curious—is this normal? Or is this the new normal? I thought that book signings were generally free events held in bookstores that were free to attend, and hopefully you bought the author’s book. But perhaps that only applies to authors with a less established following.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem paying to go to a signing—just like I would have no problem paying to go to an interesting lecture or concert. I just wonder if other, less notable authors use the same model, or generally follow more the picture that I have in my head.

Checking Nicola’s schedule for the summer, I think I’m going to see how many different readings/signings play out. I’ll keep you updated.


Item #2. I bought a Kindle.

In many circles, I know that this sort-of-kind-of-definitely places me on one of the lower circles of hell, but I have some good reasons—I promise.

I’ve been anti-eBook-reader ever since they appeared on the market a few years ago. That’s not to say that I think they’re wrong in any way; I simply have a longstanding love affair with printed books. I have walls of books (to my husband’s despair), and I love arranging them, loving on them, smelling them, finding notes in them—all of the typical ebooks-are-the-devil arguments. I have always been able to see that eBook readers are convenient and serve a certain niche, but they have never been for me.

Lately, though, I’ve been getting a number of e-galleys to review, and reading on my 15” MacBook isn’t anybody’s idea of fun. What has always been a nice, conveniently transportable size suddenly feels like a elephant sitting in my lap. I determined to go out & get an eReader.

My research led me to three different choices: the Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight, the Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kobo Glo. I read a ton of reviews, went and saw all of them in the store (except the Glo, which our Best Buy doesn’t carry), and ended up buying the Kindle.

Here’s the thing. Amazon is the huge bully on the playground, an expression I’ve seen at least four different places online in the last week. I get that. Their purchase of Goodreads last week freaked out a lot of people. But at the same time, there are a lot of exciting things going on with Kindle & Amazon—Amazon’s publishing house, which is getting some increased buzz; Kindle singles and new marketing models (well, new old marketing models) around chapter-by-chapter (episodic) releases; and other things I’m sure I just can’t think of right now.

Amazon is always the subject of conversation, even if much of the attention is negative, and I want to be part of that conversation. Kindle will do what I want it to do—I can read my ARCs on it, get books from the library through OverDrive (Amazon doesn’t play nice with B&T Axis 360 or the 3M Cloud Library, but my local library just has OverDrive), and download from Project Gutenberg. I’m not planning on buying any eBooks at this point through Amazon.

All this being said, I will also probably buy a Kobo Mini (on sale at Powell’s this week for $59 including case!) so that I can continue buying books from my favorite indies if I do want them in eBook form.  For right now, though, if I’m going to actually put money into a book, I want a copy that I can hold in my hands and put on my very physical wooden shelf. If I’m going to move to eBooks, I don’t trust Amazon with my eLibrary. I’ve heard too many stories of libraries being arbitrarily yanked for that. And by too many, I mean one, and that’s too many for me.

I’ve never been good at choosing just one of the above.


2 thoughts on “Events of Note: Neil Gaiman & my Kindle

  1. Hooray! To both things. I believe it is common for people to charge money for author events where the authors are quite famous — as you surmise. There are still lots of free book events in New York, but usually for less famous and established authors.

    And hooray to the ereader! I love my Nook for reading on the subway, and I love love love love being able to use Overdrive to get things from the library. It’s so great.

    • 🙂 I’m jealous that you’re near NYC, long commute aside–there aren’t a whole lot of bookish events in Michigan. Although there do seem to be more than I thought.

      free eBooks from the library are fantastic–now if my poor local library just had a bigger budget to expand their selection…


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