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Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom. Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown. What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one? Why do people read and how do they find their books?

Welcome to Rich Meyer.

Where are you from? (Country)
Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (USA), a transplant from central Wisconsin.

Please tell us a little about yourself.
After being rocketed to Earth from the dying planet … no, sorry. That wasn’t me. I’m your typical comic book geek. I still say “Shazam” and “Kimota” during thunderstorms … just in case. I’ve been experienced. I play trivia a lot. I’m addicted to cheesy puffs, Words with Friends, and Facebook. The five people I’ve learned more about the universe than anyone else are Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Ditko, William S. Burroughs, Frank Zappa and Steve Nyman. I write quiz books, oddball fiction and a bit o’ non-fiction here and there. I live with my wife Mona and our fur children (Emiko, Maxwell, Luli, Liam, and Baby Ruby).

I also have the bad habits of singing to my cats in a Bob Dylan voice, and clicking my rings together and shouting “Thing Ring, do your thing” to no one in particular.

On average how many books do you read in a month?
10-40, depending on what else is going on.

Where is your favourite place to read?
Anywhere, but I prefer using my Kindle on my Recliner in the middle room. Take that, Colonel Mustard!

What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid?
Science fiction, pulp adventure (Doc Savage, the Avenger, the Shadow), bizarro fiction, and classic literature. I also read a lot of non-fiction, primarily media history, biographies, and some historical accounts.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life?
I can’t understand how anyone COULDN’T have books as an important part of their existence. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Sure, if you were stranded on a desert island, yeah you’d have other priorities, but if you can’t read, what is the point to life? New ideas, new stories are what keep people alive. Or at least they should. Unfortunately with the US school system, one has to wonder now…

Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the America Dream by Hunter S. Thompson. It’s simply the best book you can read about the era I grew up in, encompassing a wide slice of culture in the United States. It’s funny, relevant, even poignant at times, and gives a new outlook on what journalism can and SHOULD be.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this?
E-Books are my preferred form for textual books (novels, reference) because of their ease of use and searchability. Graphic novels and comics I prefer in hardcover (or trade paperback) form, simply because that’s the way I like reading them. Audiobooks are fine, but I tend to fall asleep while I’m listening to them, so I don’t really have that many. And I’ve got a vast collection of old radio shows to listen to for spoken word entertainment to begin with.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know?
All of the above, really. Though I don’t get to my local library much anymore (I do use Overdrive, however) and I will NEVER download a book from someone who blatantly spams a book against a site or group’s rules. At least, I won’t use their affiliate link, and they better hope it’s a true five-star tour-de-force.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away?
Genre and description, followed by price and content of low-star reviews. I don’t often go out of my way to read a romance novel, unless it’s to help out a friend with an honest review, so I don’t really care about too many books outside of my favourite genres.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence the choice?
I often read the bad reviews, to see if they’re legitimate. Anyone can write a good review and it’s easy to glom loads of those 4- and 5-star beauties from friends and family. But the lower-rated ones tell a reader what he or she really needs to know about a book, providing they can wade through the competitors, trolls and asshats for the legitimate criticism.

I always tell people that most books are three-star books. Five-star and one-star books should ideally be few and far between. To me, a five-star book should change your life. A one-star should make you bring up your lunch again. But we all have to conform to the mediocre system we work in and use the guidelines set out for us on the sites we review on, hence a plethora of five-stars where they probably aren’t all that warranted.

Do you “judge a book by its cover?”
Nope. Well, I try not to, but there are some seriously crappy covers out there today, by those folks who don’t think they need any information or pointers on self-publishing. I’ve also seen some beee-yooo-tiful covers wasted on really crappy books.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off?
A good plot, some humor, a good macguffin, and a world that you can easily fall into are all selling points for me. Bad formatting, poor grammar, and an obvious lack of editing turns me off in a major way.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?
Definitely. I don’t care if you’re the greatest writer since Chuck Dickens, if you’re a jerk to people or act the git, I’m not going to bother with your books. To be fair, you’re also free of having to worry if I’m going to review one of your books, too. I’m not going to compromise my own integrity by reviewing something by someone I can’t stand as an individual.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads?
Unless you are thanking a reviewer, or responding to a legitimate piece of criticism (such as saying “Yep, you are correct and I’ll try not to make that mistake in the future”, then you are playing a fool’s game. There is no way that any exchange about a review is going to make you, as an author or a person, look good to your prospective readers.

Please try to remember that no matter what emphasis Amazon or the e-Book Gods force upon reviews, reviews are for OTHER READERS – NOT AUTHORS!

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be?
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.
The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus by Steve Ditko, et. Al.
The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein.

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline?
Considering that we have one used bookstore in our entire country, yep. The only place to buy books here are in Walmart or grocery stores. In fact, I’d have to drive about 45 miles or so to find a proper bookstore.

In my opinion, it is their own fault they are failing. Far too many independent bookstores have followed the lunatic practices of Borders/Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble and forgotten about both their customers on both sides of the table (readers and authors), and haven’t even begun to try to change their business plan to enter the 21st century so they could’ve competed properly with the new internet-based economy spawned by Amazon. Right now, it may be a bit too late for them to do anything about it. This is evident even at the local used bookstore: I can buy a beat-up copy of a used mass market paperback for $4.00 there. I can get a brand new one for the same price on Amazon for a couple of days of waiting. How can anyone with a shop compete with that?

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