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{June 23, 2011}   Guest Post and GIVEAWAY with Rusty Fischer–Author of Zombies Don’t Cry

The Blockbuster Effect: Where Have All Our Choices Gone?

A Guest Post by Rusty Fischer, author of Zombies Don’t Cry

I was staring up at the movie times in front of our local theater the other day and I couldn’t believe how few choices I had. Okay, sure, I already knew I was going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 (yeah, I said it) but, it was only mid-afternoon. What if I wanted to stick around for something a little more “adult” afterward, like a murder mystery, thriller, or drama?

Forget it; even with over 20 movie theaters there were still only eight or nine actual movies to choose from. That’s because of the “Blockbuster Effect”; i.e. every new blockbuster chews up three to four theaters, and even more of it’s in 3-D.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m really looking forward to a few of this summer’s potential blockbusters, but… really? Do they all have to be about superheroes, sequels, robots, or remakes? Where are my choices? Where’s a good murder mystery the wife and I can go enjoy on a casual weeknight before or after dinner? How about something with some actual suspense, intrigue, or, you know, stimulating dialogue (remember that)?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m no art house movie snob and I love big, giant special effects movies as much as the next guy but… I’ve been supporting Hollywood for the last 20 or 30 years of regular, weekly, and loyal attendance. Shouldn’t they throw me a bone every now and again? Okay, so what do blockbusters have to do with bookselling or, for that matter, YA? Well, I kind of feel the same way when I walk into the bookstore these days. I have “x” amount of choices and very, very few of them are what I really want. In YA, you definitely have the same kind of “blockbuster effect” where certain series or tie-ins or commercial authors literally dominate the shelves, crowding out single titles, first-time authors, mainstream fiction, coming of age or pretty much anything/everything else. Again, I love a good YA vampire, zombie, werewolf, or dystopian book/series as much as the next guy, but… lately the YA bookstore shelves are starting to seem more and more like my local movie theater: more screens (books) and fewer choices.

I mention this not because I’m trying to sound like an old man screaming “Get off my lawn” to successful movies and book series, but because I’m genuinely trying – like most YA authors these days, I think – to understand why so many stories of late keep touting the “EBooks outselling print book” headline. I never thought I’d reflect that kind of statistic but I have to say, MOST of the books I’ve bought this year have been EBooks. And most of them are probably books you’ve never heard of before: The Monster’s Daughter. Jump. Origins. Hand Puppet Horror. DFF: Dead Friends Forever.  And they all rock; sincerely, legitimately and objectively rock. I enjoyed them all as much, if not more, than any mainstream paperback I’ve bought at the local bookstore in the last few years, and nearly every new EBook I read leads me to one, two, or three more.

And I’m not doing it because it’s trendy; I’m doing it because buying an EBook reflects my current reading interests and where I’m spending most of my time lately – online. To a one, each of the EBooks listed above has been written by a connection I’ve made in social media, either by a Facebook friend or someone I follow on Twitter or maybe a respected blogger’s review on Goodreads.com.  What’s more, they’re books I wanted to read, when I wanted to read them. They’re also books that should be available at my local bookstore, to say nothing of Wal-Mart and Target, but aren’t. Why? Because they’re not considered “blockbusters”; at least, not yet. I get it; I get that bookselling is a business and that Target can only afford to stock so many books, and that the books they do stock have to be (very) commercially viable. And nothing is more commercially viable than a brand-name author, “brand” or series that everybody already knows. And there’s a place for that; absolutely Stephanie Meyers and R. L. Stine and Rachel Caine have earned their blockbuster status and rightfully so; the books they write are practically guaranteed to satisfy a HUGE segment of the reading public – ME included!

But what if I want to read something other than Vampire Diaries or Hunger Games this weekend? What if I’m in the mood for something new, exciting, and creative by someone I’ve never heard of before? Where can I find that? Not at the summer movies anymore, and increasingly, not at my local bookstore either. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with seeing something big and bloated and entertaining at the regular movie theater AND renting some creepy foreign movie on Netflix of Pay-per-view. I can appreciate, and enjoy, both; and pay for both. The same way I’m just as happy to pick up the new Morganville Vampires installment at Target or Beastly at Books-A-Million AND download The Monster’s Daughter or Origins to my Kindle for PC; and pay for both. But if movie theaters and bookstores want to keep complaining about why people aren’t coming in droves anymore, stop blaming the customers – or Netflix or Amazon or EBooks – and start looking internally. It’s easier to blame a trend than the steps they might not have taken to actually, you know, respond to that trend. I’m tired of going to the movies in spite of the movies that are offered and buying books in spite of the lack of variety on the shelves.

It’s my money, my time, and I’ll spend it the way I want. If movie theaters and bookstores only want to stock the blockbuster titles, the bestselling authors and the “coolest” genres (according to someone other than myself), good for them. I’ll still wander in while I’m killing time waiting to see another movie that’s only sure to disappoint, but they won’t be first on my list to rush out and shop there. I don’t think EBooks are trending because they’re a fad or we’re all sheep; I think they’re trending because of a much simpler, more basic reason: people want more choices. And yet, increasingly, we are being offered less and less. Every superhero movie that takes up five theaters and leaves less room for a smart, slick, adult thriller is just one more reason for me to stay home and rent something instead. (You know, after I’ve seen said superhero movie, of course!) Likewise, every time I go to the bookstore and find the same old titles on the same old shelves and walk away empty-handed, it’s one more reason for me to go back home and spend my money online instead.

At the end of the day, I think (and this isn’t very scientific, I know) change isn’t about technology or timing or habits or politics; it’s about choices. I go to the movies less and less each year because there are more blockbusters and fewer choices; I go to the bookstore less and less each year for the same reason: more (blockbuster) books and fewer choices.

As an avid moviegoer AND book buyer, I’m not proud of it; but I’m no longer ashamed of it either.

How about you?

Yours in YA,

Rusty Fischer

About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of Zombies Don’t Cry, out now in print from Medallion Press. He also has a new EBook coming out from Decadent Publishing called Ushers, Inc. Visit his blog, www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com, for news, reviews, cover leaks, YA writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!

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Thank you Rusty!!! I love this guest post… it’s so true!  

This Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Winner: ANGIE

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James says:

I want this!!



This was a great post w/some excellent points!
I often buy my books online b/c the store has the same 10 books every time I go.



Suz says:

Thank you so much for the amazing giveaway! This book has totally been on my radar for quite some time. :)

Suz @ A Soul Unsung



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