Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ Kate Vietch

I’ve been thinking about my book buying habits lately, and how they’ve changed. I’ve recently become a writer – a producer, in a sense, of books – but since I was very young indeed I’ve been a reader – a consumer. In fact, one of the best presents I’ve ever had was when my father gave me five pounds (we still used pounds in Australia then) for my 7th birthday, and told me I could spend it all on books. Talk about being in seventh heaven!

Used to be, I was a purist: independent bookstores only. I got my first job, age fourteen, in an independent bookstore in Melbourne, Australia. A full time job (I lied about my age); went straight home and told my parents, “I don’t have to go to school any more, I’ve got a job.” Their answer, in no uncertain times, was “Think again, kiddo.” But before long, I had left school, and over the next ten years I worked in bookstores in four Australian cities, all independents.

Okay, we’re talking 30, 40 years ago. Back then we didn’t have mobile phones, let alone the internet. You can’t hold back progress, or life. I got a credit card; I married, had a kid, worked hard, got lucky, made money. But I still bought my books the old-fashioned way: in bookstores, picking them up, one by one, off the shelves, turning them over, opening the pages to read a paragraph here, a few sentences there.

And then I started coming to the United States; I became an author myself, and I became aware of Amazon. Rankings, reviews, recommendations, and discounts: big discounts. It seemed terribly modern, and important – and convenient. Incredibly convenient. “One-click shopping.” I dabbled, opened an account, ordered a book, and another. Suddenly I was being addressed by name, and offered suggestions for further books based on my previous purchases, or what people who had also viewed had bought. This or that algorithm: it felt so sophisticated.

Then, I was informed that I had signed up for “Amazon Prime”. Huh? Darn, I didn’t mean to do that! But since I had, and the money had already been deducted from my credit card, I might as well make use of it. Shipping? “Free with Prime!” I admit it: I binged. For a whole year, I don’t think I bought a single book in an independent store. It was Amazon all the way, or, to salve my conscience, any of the myriad stores who offer used books through them.

When my second novel, Trust, was published, I asked my friends to write reviews of it – for Amazon, of course. Then I went on book tour, reading from Trust and talking about it in – where? In independent bookstores. The very places I hadn’t set foot in otherwise for nigh on a year. I felt like the prodigal son, or daughter, come home, to the places where people who love books get to meet each other and talk about them, leaf through the pages, pass them hand to hand. Where people would listen to me read, and applaud and ask questions, and I could autograph their copy of my book. Amazon could give me a big fat discount, but it couldn’t do any of that other stuff.

I started to ask myself, what do I value more highly: a cheaper book, or more people in my book community? The convenience of not having to leave my home, or a local shopping precinct that has a real live bookstore at its heart? More people with jobs; authors (like me!) who get paid more for their books, and have places where we can actually meet our readers…

The day before my Prime membership was due to be renewed, I went online and clicked on that button that opted me out. Mentally, I waved bye-bye to my Amazon dalliance. I felt like I was saying to my community, I’m back. And I’m staying.

Kate's books ~ 

Trust: A Novel

Susanna Greenfield has given her all to being a good daughter, sister, wife, and mother. Somehow, she's maintained her profession as a college art teacher, as well as rearing two headstrong teenagers and nurturing a twenty-year marriage to Gerry, a confident, ambitious architect. She's also the eternal peacemaker between her pretty younger sister Angie, former junkie turned born-again Christian, and their strong- willed mother, Jean.

Just when Susanna is struggling to revive her creative career, a devastating accident rips apart the fabric of her world, exposing secrets which threaten to destroy both a marriage, and a life. Plumbing the rich emotional vocabulary of faith and betrayal, loyalty and forgiveness, Trust is the story of a woman's challenge to find her self.  

Without a Backward Glance 

Rosemarie leaned her weight on the big kitchen knife with blind efficiency. No one wanted to know the real secrets, not the really big ones. And, she thought emphatically, I don't want anyone to know mine!

On Christmas Eve in 1967, a London woman unhappily transplanted to the Australian suburbs makes a decision that will change forever the lives of her four young children. Forty years on, those children are adept at concealing their shared pain. Deborah has a demanding political career, James is a successful artist, Robert a respected school principal. Only Meredith, the baby of the family, seems stuck. But as their father begins to lose his grip on reality, they find themselves floundering in an unfamiliar sea. And their past is about to reach into their present in ways that will shock and challenge them all ...

A spellbinding contemporary novel which draws us deep into the intensely private world of family life and brilliantly illuminates the joys, sorrows and sustaining comfort we find there.

About the author ~ 

Kate Veitch was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1955, grew up in Melbourne, and has lived in Darwin, New York, and Ubud. She has not attended any writers’ workshops, in Iowa or elsewhere, but she has done lots of other things. Her first novel, Listen, was a bestseller in Australia and Germany, and was published in the US as Without a Backward Glance. Her second novel, Trust, will be released in mid-2010.

Kate currently divides her time between Australia and San Francisco, for reasons of romance.

Thanks to the publisher, The Penguin Group,  I have three (3) copies of this book to give away!

Rules for entering:
1. You MUST be follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect, E-Mail Subscription, or RSS Feed.

2. This contest is open to residents of USA residents only.

3. You MUST complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count!

4. The contest will end on August 20, 2010 at 11:59PM EST; 2 winners will be selected and contacted thereafter.

5. NO P.O. Box Addresses!

6. Book will be shipped directly from the Publisher.