Something I’ve seen coming up time and again, though moreso in recent months, are articles about elitism and snobbery in the world of books. Now, i’ve been on the receiving end of this snobbery myself. Through several years of university, I had (well, chose) to fight back against academics who thought genre fiction wasn’t worthwhile. A quick look at newspaper book reviews will tell you that Science Fiction barely gets a look in. And when it does, it’s ‘transcending genre,’ as if SF is a limiting factor on how good a book can be.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Even within the genre, there is elitism. Spades of it, and to be quite honest with you, I’m probably a part of it myself. And maybe you are too. That’s why I’ve created a quick quiz to see: Are YOU a Book Snob?
Do you read hardbacks:
Yes, absolutely. As someone who loves books as objects as well as ways of consuming stories, it’s hard to beat a hardback. They look great on shelves. They feel good in your hands. And, more to the point, it means you’re getting the story as soon as it’s available, at least most of the time. Who doesn’t like a story with an exoskeleton?
Do you read paperbacks?
Yes, of course. Paperbacks are the bread-and-butter of my reading. Be it a snazzy new trade paperback, or a foxed and battered mass market, I try and have a book near me at all times. Paperbacks are great for travelling too, because they’re a fair bit more portable than hardbacks. They’re also considerably more durable, and a lot more affordable.
Do you read ebooks?
No. No I do not. While the existence of a few digital-only releases has on occasion tempted me, ebooks are a line in the sand I will not cross until I have no other choice. For some people with medical reasons, I understand why ebooks are better, but I don’t wnat an entire library on a piece of plastic. When I think of a book, I think of a physical object. Something with real weight to it. Ebooks just do nothing for me.
Do you listen to audiobooks?
No, not really. I’ve given them a few tries, and almost always come away disappointed. I’ll listen to audio dramas and exclusives, but a full book in audio I just can’t do. Somewhere after the five hour mark, my attention wanders. As a fairly quick reader, having someone slowly speaking the story just takes too long, and if you speed them up they become incomprehensible. As an aside, I am one of those who don’t think listenening to the book counts as having read it. It’s literally having someone else read it to you. It is a perfectly vaild way of consuming media, but it is not reading.
Do you read books from major publishers?
Yes. Kind of hard to avoid this one. Harper, Gollancz, Simon & Schuster, Orbit, Tor. All are good names with strong records. When a publisher puts money behind something, it means the story is good in some objective way. Subjectively, I might not like it, but at least it will be professionally produced. There’s also the reality that I only hear about books if people market them, and if there’s one thing big publishers do well, it’s marketing.
Do you read books from small presses?
Yes, but not that many. Head of Zeus, Baen, WordFire, Saga and NewCon Press are all what I would classify as small presses, though I’m sure others will disagree. Small Presses are often where I get my fix of short stories and translated work. They take more risks, it seems, which obviously means that they have a lower rate of success when it comes to me liking them. The higher price can be offputting, but often its worth it.
Do you read self-published books?
No. At least, not unless I know I can trust the author. There are a few authors who now use hybrid publishing, having contracts with publishing houses while also putting out side projects independently. Christopher Ruocchio is one example, but as with all the others, he is an author I only know about through traditionally published releases. I won’t take risks on a completely unknown self-published author.
Do you read outside your preferred genre?
Yes. About 70% of my reading is Science Fiction. A further 20% Fantasy, and the remainder Historical Fiction, Crime, and Weird. I’m heavily skewed towards SF, but I dabble in other areas. I used to read a lot more Fantasy, but got burned out a few years ago. I started this blog as a result though, so it’s not all bad.
Do you read tie-in/IP fiction?
Yes, and lots of it. I was a huge fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe back in the day, and tried to keep up with the new canon, though have fallen way behind. I’m not a Warhammer 40,000 player, but I read a fair few Black Library books. Last year I also got back into Star Trek novels after a few years out of the loop. And let’s not even talk about the boxes of Doctor Who novels in the spare room. Tie-In fiction is great stuff, especially when it builds on TV universes, telling stories that a visual medium couldn’t achieve.
So those are my answers. There are some things I won’t touch, which probably makes me a snob. Truth be told though, I’m fairly easy to please. I’m the guy who like both Rise of Skywalker and The Last Jedi, after all. And the thing is, even if they’re not for me, things are enjoyed by other people, and that’s exactly how it should be. If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions, then there will be people who call you a snob. But unless you look down on the genre as a whole, you’re all right in my book. be sure to let me know how you score, and let’s keep the conversation going.