Monday, January 30, 2012
Miscellaneous Monday: Misbehaving Online
Thinking back to my earliest reading experiences, I can't say that I was even aware of authors as anything more than names on the cover on my books. The only time those names were important was if I really loved a book, and I wanted more of the same. My reading at that time was motivated mostly by random fancy, and I would read anything with an intriguing cover or title. Anything. I felt no connection to the authors, and I didn't care because I had such a strong connection to the books.
Now, it's difficult to say whether my paradigm shift was due to growing up, or the evolution of the internet and the online reading community--probably some combination of the two. In any case, these days I'm more conscious of the author responsible for every book I read--aware of the style, personality, and work that they put into those books. But more to the point, I'm aware of authors as brand names. Many authors promote themselves and their books online with great enthusiasm. Just take a look at Gail Carriger's website. Spend ten minutes browsing it and you'll have a pretty good idea of what her work is like, and a pretty good idea of whether you would like to try one of her books.
So, the internet has made me more aware of authors as artists, and of authors as brand names. And from a book selling perspective (the author's) or a book buying perspective (mine), this is all a good thing. They get to sell their product the way they want to, I get to buy things I like, everyone is happy. Where this all falls apart for me is when I become too aware of authors as people. And actually, even that is fine about 90% of the time--I don't really mind if an author posts on his/her blog about beloved pets or shoe shopping or favorite flavors of cheese. The problem is this: some people are jerks. And even non-jerks have bad days when they behave badly.
Hypothetically, let's say that an author has said or done something online that you find appalling. Can you ignore it enough to still buy (or borrow) and enjoy his/her book? I can't, and that kind of saddens me. Once that name is stuck it my mind as "That one author that went ballistic on goodreads/amazon because of bad reviews" I literally cannot bring myself to buy that book. Who knows, I might be missing out on something I'd really enjoy, all because the author chose to act like a dick one time. Am I the only one with this problem?
The bottom line is, while I love the connectivity of the online reading community, part of me longs for that time when authors seemed like the anonymous magicians behind the awesome experience of books. Maybe someday soon I'll mature a little more as a reader and be able to read books by misbehaving authors, without bias or preconceived notions. Or maybe not. Maybe they really don't deserve my time and money.
How has author behavior influenced you? Have you ever been driven to read a book because of an author's awesome online presence? Or driven away by off-putting behavior? Have you found a way to ignore all of it altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments! Happy Monday, everyone!