The Seal of Approval

What’s in a seal?  Prestige, praise, protection, a blessing.  Seals have existed for many centuries.  They date back to some of the world’s first civilizations.  Today we use them mostly to award prizes.  If you’re a book lover of literary prizes, then you’re used to seeing seals on winning books and runners-up.  Seals are now also showing up on new releases and back list books for book clubs.  Oprah’s Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, Emma Watson’s Book Club, even Jimmy Fallon, and the list goes on.

I hope this trend isn’t going to continue but it seems as though people are really catching the reading bug because of them .  That’s fantastic!  However the thing that annoys me about some of these celebrity book clubs is that when the book is published there has to be a giant seal printed on the front cover for the book club.  This drives me mad!  Why is it that publishing companies have to put Oprah’s seal on every book she chooses for her book club?

When the public decides to buy a book that happens to have the Oprah book club seal, it looks like we’re all joining her book club when we aren’t.  It’s great for the author who gets loads of publicity because his/her book was chosen to be discussed for the club.  Sadly for collectors, like myself,  the Oprah and Reese cover seals don’t cut it.

November 13th, 2018 Becoming by Michelle Obama was released.  I was ecstatic but when I heard that Becoming was chosen for Oprah’s book club, I hoped that there would be some pre-orders that were published without the seal.  First edition hardcover books with a book club seal on the front is just disheartening.

The 13th I looked at all of the pictures on Instagram that rolled through my feed of Becoming.  Everybody was so proud and overjoyed by the release of this book.  But there was a common feeling lurking under many of these posts. “I would have preferred that the cover didn’t contain a Oprah Book Club seal.”  Now this is a very common thought contrary to what most people would think.  It’s time that publishing companies start listening more to their customers, the avid readers and book collectors on this one.  We are all prepared to buy books but we’d prefer you omit publishing them with book club seals.

I know publishers probably think that the seal of approval encourages the public to buy more books.  Avid readers who buy a lot of books don’t need a seal of approval on a book to be convinced to buy it.  Most of us do our research and we know what we want to buy and read.  There are people who just refuse to buy any books with book club and literary prize seals on them.  In my opinion, these so-called seals of approval make the value of the first edition decrease.

Now after pre-ordering my copy of Becoming from Amazon, it arrived sadly with the dreaded Oprah seal.  So I had to hunt for a copy with no seal.  I realized that the British copies do not have any seals on them.  On the hunt for a British copy, I found and ordered a copy of Becoming from The Book Depository.  My copy came from the UK and it doesn’t contain the Oprah seal of approval.  Thank goodness was my sigh of relief once the box was finally opened.  Becoming looking perfectly beautiful.

So what can we do to try to get books to not contain seals of approval from celebrity book clubs?  I think we should all take to our computers and write letters to publishing companies, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc and urge them to stop printing book club seals on book covers or at least print only half of them with seals.  At least this way there would be a possibility for book lovers to be able to buy a book without a seal.  This could be done since now we know that they produced all of the UK copies without seals.  What’s stopping publishing houses from publishing only half the books with seals?  Comment below and let me know what you think about this.

To eBook or not?

I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember.  I loved the summer because I could spend hours exploring the rooms and shelves and smelling the odor of old used books in an old-fashioned, cozy, cool library.  As I grew older, this feeling accentuated with the love I going to bookstores.  It didn’t matter if it was a big chain or a small independent bookstore, as long as it was filled with books to explore I could pass hours inside.  So when eBooks arrived on the scene I was very critical of them. Actually I swore I’d never read on one and surely never spend my hard-earned money on one either.  Never say never.

I decided three weeks ago to buy myself a Kindle.  OMG!!!  What was I thinking ?  How could I have done it?  Well I took a good look around my cramped house one day and realized that my book consumption was consuming me, my family, and the house; so much so that I’ve resorted to storing some of them in the garage.  Yes, I’m a woman with a bad habit that I can’t break and it’s never going to get better.  So, I decided to invest in a Kindle.  I figured like this I could really control my book acquisitions, by not necessarily having to always have a physical book.  That way I could concentrate on buying the ones that I really want to own.  All of this was decided before I’d even bought one and tested out reading on it.  What a risk!  I kept telling myself it’s the 21st century for God sake and this may become the next wave of the future.  You don’t want to be one of those old people who can’t and won’t work an eBook.  Although, deep down inside I was feeling like a traitor to literary buffs like myself who adore bookstores and the ever sacred beautiful books.

When the Kindle arrived and I read my first book, I was amazed how comfortable it was reading on it.  Since the Kindle has the E Ink display function, it’s as if you’re really reading a book, which means you can read for hours and in sunlight.  Not to mention, it’s lightweight, so comfy no matter where you hold it to read and it fits inside your purse like any paperback because it’s small.  It’s also easy to get access to the built-in dictionary while reading and you can highlight, make notes, and bookmark pages as well.  However, there are some disadvantages to keep in mind, especially for those that love holding a book: 1. missing physically seeing how far I am into the book.  That was a slight psychological battle for me (still not over it yet).  Kindle has marked the percentage read in the bottom right hand side of the page, even though, I think it’s possible to regulate it so it counts pages too,  2. buying books on Amazon is as easy as a click, but the prices are sometimes the same as paperbacks and hardbacks or are only just 30% less than the orignal physical copy.  Luckily, there are some free books (usually classics) and some inexpensive ones (around $2) but, you’ll have to search for them, unless you load up the new Kindle Free Apps(don’t know its validity).  Just be careful for sites that want you to pay a flat fee for so-called free access to books, magazines, and newspapers for life because there are some major scams going on with them.  I just learned about that yesterday.  I’ve already done some browsing on Amazon and bought  a few books on my Kindle.  My first buy was The Complete Works of Jane Austen.  I bought it for $1.09. You can’t beat that price.  I then started to load up on a few more classics that either I’ve read and want to reread or haven’t read yet and want to.  All in all I’ve only spent about $20.00 and I have 24 books on my Kindle.

In my opinion using an eBook is just a convenience, but I’ll never switch over to primarily reading on my Kindle.  I love books much too much for that!   I rate my Kindle a thumbs up, but at the same time will always promote the small independent bookstores when and wherever  I am on holiday in the States and in Paris when I go to get cultured and to do some retail therapy.  Don’t knock eBooks before you try them.  My Kindle is going to save me loads of room in my suitcase on holiday next week.  Drop me a line below and tell me what you think.  Kindle, Nook, iPad, Cybook, BeBook,PocketBook, Skiff Reader, Papyrus, Zebook, Libré,…. Which do you prefer?  If you do, why?  Comment below and happy reading….