Book Karma

Karma is not what you think it is.  Every time something shitty happens to someone shitty, that is NOT karma.  Karma doesn’t pay off in this life, but in the next.  As I meet more authors and more readers in the world, I have realized how we treat books and authors is its own form of karma.

There is, in my opinion, karma for readers.  These are good deeds you do for books and authors you love because you love them.  I have been thinking a lot about this for the past week or so because Jenny Lawson (of Furiously Happy fame) just did a small project she called Booksgiving.  The goal was, using Amazon wish lists, to get books into the hands of people struggling and needed a gift.  Originally Jenny was just going to send the books, but many of her readers took it upon themselves to buy books for others.  Not everyone submitted a wish list, but those who wanted to buy a book for someone could with ease.  Most didn’t expect anything in return.  That is how karma starts: you do something because you can and it is good and you don’t expect something in return.  The pay off doesn’t come in this life, but the next.

I started thinking about book karma and how one can improve your book karma.  By book karma I mean what a reader does to help the book or author he/she loves. I came up with 5 ways:

  1. You actually read the book.  There are times I acquire a book because it interests me, but it will take years for me to read it.  You can’t realize you love a book until you actually read it.  Yes, it’s very much like Schrodinger’s cat.  You have to open the box to know if the cat is alive.
  2. You don’t just check out the book from the library, but buy a copy of it (or many depending on how much you love it).  You don’t have to love every book you read, nor do you have to buy a copy of every book you read.  If you love a book, you should support the person who wrote it.  Library books are a wonderful way to find new books without spending tons of money, but the author gets nothing in return.  Buying a copy is the very first way you can get good book karma.  Why?  It is just a one-time action.  You read it, you own it, the end.  It is what you do next that really helps improve your book karma.
  3. You write a review of the book.  Having spent time with many independent authors and I hear a lot of frustration about the lack of reviews.  They look to places like Amazon and Goodreads for reviews.  General reviews are expected to be put on Amazon, but they expect something more thoughtful from Goodreads.  People are typically more inclined to review for a negative reason.  So, the second level of improving your book karma is by reviewing the books you love on both Amazon and Goodreads… or at least on Amazon.
  4. When you share a copy of a book, you are beginning to really level up.  Getting a book into the hands of other people is one of the best way to get other people to read the book.  This happened years ago with the TV Show Firefly.  A wonderful show was canceled so fans bought the DVDs and passed them on to people to expose them to the show.  Most of the show’s cult status is due to the huge increase in fans after the show was canceled.  If there is a book you love, give copies to others.  This is what Booksgiving did this week.  Fans got copies of the book into hands of other fans.  Not only did these people need a gift, but it shared Jenny’s books without her having to do it herself.  For most people, this is the best way to improve your book karma.
  5. The highest level of book karma is never shutting up about a book you love.  This is above and beyond.  You know the people who do this.  They are typically librarians or heavy readers.  I know people often ask me what I am reading.  I typically ignore what I am reading and tell them about the latest book I fell in love with.

What do you think of these ways to improve your book karma?  Did I miss anything?

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