Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

What Reader Classification Are You?

Tower of booksToday is Tuesday, but a relatively unimportant Tuesday. It’s the middle of the month Tuesday where readers, full of gluttonous spending a couple of weeks ago look around bewildered at the bedside table, nearly buckling under the weight of books to be read. Some books have been there since many Tuesday release dates ago, but haven’t yet been relegated to under-the-bed status and thus are still in the running to be read within the next, oh, couple of months.

Avid readers (and I am not simply referring to Keishon of the same blog name or whomever uses the moniker at Amazon) are identified because they exhibit the similar character traits. If we put these readers out in the wild, strange but noticeable patterns would develop. ARs, as opposed to ORs (occassional readers – not to be confused with OpRs which are Oprah Book Readers) or RRs (recreational readers) or even SMDRs (subject matter dependent readers), have distinctive traits which separate them from the other reader species. ARs are often hoarders, gathering up books with no intention of reading them until a) they read their other 700 books in the TBR pile or b) the series is complete or c) a good review comes along propelling the books to the top of the TBR pile or d) the cat knocks the TBR pile over and unearths a gem purchased 3 months ago.


ARs have several TBR piles with varying degrees of importance. Generally, the closer the TBR pile is to the reading habitat, the more important and more likely the TBR pile will be, well, read. Further, there is a jostling for position within the TBR pile as the AR constantly shuffles and reshuffles this pile of books.

As I go each month to buy books when I have several hundred of books I have purchased in the past 20 some years that I thought at the time of purchase were worth reading, I often pause for a second between clicks and ask myself “what the hell am I doing?” It’s a question I have asked many a reader only to receive two kinds of replies. It’s either, “I wish I had the answer to this as I suffer from the same disease” or it’s “you are crazy and I hope you don’t come near me and my child. Oh look, the next stop is ours. Whew.” ARs are the equivalent of the old woman and the many cats only we aren’t in danger of being eaten by our 1000 books.


Since my move to ebooks, I have been able to whittle my paperback collection to a trim 400 books. This number gets smaller each month thanks to e-initiatives by Harper Collins who release more ebook versions of its authors’ backlists each week. The move to ebooks, however, merely transforms my physical pile into a digital pile. I still have more books than I could possibly read for at least the next year, but it doesn’t stop me from buying more.

Last week, I spent about 30 minutes online buying ebooks from Fictionwise, Powells and Harlequin. Will I read these books? Not likely. But I’ll have them and it satisfied my AR tendencies until the next Tuesday release date.

Next week: Why Tuesday is the Holy Day of Publishing. If you’ve got an answer for that, drop me a line, because frankly no one knows. I’ll be putting up the best of the best speculations next week, but having dumbfounded publishing house to professional organizations to educators, I’m still looking for the answer.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Danielle
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 04:59:56

    I am a book junkiie!!!!!!! I love books…I am the kind of reader that authors love…I read one book by an author and then glommed her. I have over 400 books in my TBR pile and I still continue to buy. Last year I purchased an eReader at first I was buyinge ebooks by my favorite I’m buying ebooks from other authors who I have discovered.

    Every month I sit down and I write down in a notebook books that will be coming out in the upcoming months that I want. Sometimes I will pre-order the upcoming months new books from Books A Or I meet my friend and we hit Waldens on what we call New Book Friday (the Friday before the books are supposed to come out) and we pray that WaldensBorders will have a decent percent off coupon that week.

    The latest joke in our family is that we have to build a room addition just to hold all my books (and hubby’s too).

    And yes, I do read my books…maybe not as fast as before but I’m still averaging about 3 books a week.

    You also asked “Why Tuesday is the Holy Day of Publishing.” It’s to get you to come to a store on a non-weekend day and spend money that you would normally spend on the weekend thus boosting the sales for the store. It might also be the only way they can calculate books sales if they are all released on the same day.

  2. Kailan
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 06:06:01

    I am totally an AD. I have way too many books in the TBR pile, and yet, I always find myself looking for more. I have a hard time reading e-books, they just don’t compare to the paperback to me. I could really use like a book buyers anonymous. I just find that all the new releases that I want to read all come out around the same time. I start the year off with a couple here and there, but by the fall, there are several coming out at one time. If they came out more spread out I could read them as I got them, but alas, that never happens for me. I know full well I have too many books, but I figure that as long as one of my bookshelves doesn’t get overloaded and fall on someone, I am not hurting anyone… and… I will get to the books eventually…

  3. Tara Marie
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 06:09:47

    Avid readers at times seems too mild for those of us with a book addiction. I spent an hour at the Indie bookseller/UBS yesterday picking up a book order and 3 used books for a series I’m not loving but need to finish. Why? I don’t know–LOL

    I’ve come to the conclusion that being an AR is easily a full time job. Between time spent reading, blogging and searching for books it’s easily 40 hours a week and that might be a little scary and just a tad bit obsessive.

    Book storage is out of control and I purged so much 6 months ago. And I don’t even want to consider how much money I’ve spent during the last 25 years, it’s probably enough to send my son to college.

  4. shuzluva
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 06:47:17

    Wow. I am so happy to know it’s not just me. Rather than under the bed, I store my TBR pile under my nightstand. Little did I know when I ordered the fabric to cover my nightstand it would actually serve as a book chuppah, with all my treasures hiding under there, waiting to be picked up and read.

    ARs are the equivalent of the old woman and the many cats only we aren’t in danger of being eaten by our 1000 books.

    Oh really? That’s not what my husband thinks. He forces me to purge at least once a month (which is really a service, because I use the profits of eBay resale to feed my book addiction). Of course, now that I have an eReader, he doesn’t realize that there are another 65 books on my reader that I’ve started, contemplated reading, or are sitting there for posterity because I can’t bear to erase them. The real issue will be when I fill up my eReader with keepers. I guess I’ll have to just purchase the next generation reader when that happens!

  5. Keishon
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 07:17:42

    I’m a slow reader…with a huge TBR pile that is out of this world. I have purged twice and I am in the middle of yet another purge. I don’t much keep up with what’s coming out in romance or any other genre unless it’s a favorite author. I find that I like to be surprised when I visit the bookstore, which I will be doing in the next couple of hours, I bought two books at Fictionwise and Laura Kinsale’s two best books were released in ebook at HarperCollins today: Flowers From the Storm and The Shadow & The Star. Must go purchase those right now. Later.

  6. nath
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 07:22:24

    I’m an AR who before I start looking for reviews and suggestions on the net, didn’t have a TBR pile – actually, I didn’t even know what TBR stood for! Now, I have a very modest/small TBR pile (about 70 books), but that’s because I’m a fast reader. In a good week, I read about 5-7 books/week which is why I can keep my pile small. My priorities are always my new purchases :P then, when I start to fall behind, the books go into the TBR pile. However, I have to agree with Tara Marie – being an AR is a full time job, I just wish we would be paid for it.

  7. May
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 07:26:18

    I don’t think it’s that much of a generalization to say most people who come by here are avid readers.

    Naturally, I’m one too, minus the hundred-plus book TBR pile. ;)

  8. Jane
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 07:42:49

    He forces me to purge at least once a month (which is really a service, because I use the profits of eBay resale to feed my book addiction).

    Spoken like a true AR. “But really, my book addiction earns me profits discounting what I’ve already paid for them.”

  9. Christine Rimmer
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 08:58:18

    You are all the people who make being an author possible. So feed your addictions. Never stop.

    I believe Tuesday is the day books are released. Into the wild. Most of them naked.

  10. bam
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 09:23:19

    At last count, I had 2300 books on my TBR pile and about another 1500 in my ebook reader. I spend every cent I have on books. Last week, I had to get my car fixed and didn’t have the dough for it, so I had to hit up my mom and she said, “what are you, on drugs?” and i said, “yeah, kind of.” stupid books.

  11. Kerry Allen
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 09:26:28

    When did you come to my house and take all those pictures?!

    As for Tuesdays (which are also release dates for CDs and video games, by the way), my theory is that a Tuesday release makes the most of a week’s sales while removing the factor of those pesky Monday holidays from the equation.

    Or something like that.

  12. Sara Dennis
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 09:40:42

    Huge TBR pile, slow reader, and constantly adding more to the pile. That’s me. It’s funny that so many of us have that affliction. Hey, at least we’re putting money into the authors’ pockets, even if we don’t always have timely reviews. :)

  13. Maria Duncan
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 09:51:32

    Yup, that’s me. Ibuy books whenever I’m in a bookshop even though my TBR pile is as high as the ceiling. The problem with this addiction is that often I find three of the same books in my pile. It’s crazy

  14. Eva Gale
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 10:01:19

    That picture on the shelves looks like a beautiful quilt.

    And I need a freakin intervention with my books.

  15. Vivi Anna
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 10:32:10

    I’m an AR too. I don’t have a huge TBR pile, just about 15 books, but I too still buy new books every month whether I’m ready to read them or not. And there they are stacked, all jostling for position for my next great read.

  16. Ellie M.
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 12:13:24

    What they said :)

    Huge TBR pile (and box and shelf and bag and…), husband who views my addiction dubiously. Slow reader, due to kidlets and writing. I just like to …. own …. books. It makes me feel rich. Other possessions don’t have that same effect for me, except, you know, money. But if I have a wealth of unread treasures, books that might just be the next best thing since dark chocolate, I feel like the luckiest woman on the block.

  17. Rosie
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 13:01:18

    Good to know I’m in such good company. Before my work hours increased my TBR was a modest 20-30 books because I read fast. Now it’s probably about 150-200. My entire family knows new book releases are on Tuesdays. My sons frequently remind me that “Tomorrow is Tuesday, aren’t you going to the book store?”

    One good thing that came from this is that the whole family reads. While I consider my husband and sons to be recreational readers, all three are readers with varied interests. It sure makes for some interesting meal time conversations.

  18. Bev(BB
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 13:36:19

    Is there a buried category?

  19. Nora Roberts
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 14:48:11

    ~Little did I know when I ordered the fabric to cover my nightstand it would actually serve as a book chuppah, with all my treasures hiding under there, waiting to be picked up and read.~

    I love this, in every way.

    Let me say next, God bless you, every one.

    I fall far short of the AR as demonstrated here. In fact, I’m in awe of the ARs commenting here. If I could, I would marry you all and bear many, many young for you.

    I consider myself more of a gobbler. A horder/gobbler. An HG reader. Gather and horde the books, gather and horde, often going days without being able to dive in. Then gobbling one after another. I simply can’t read a chapter or two, not if I fall into the book. Must. Have. It. All. So I gobble when I have a chunk of time to allow it. Sit. Wallow. Then quickly grab the next and gobble that.

    But compared to those commenting here, I am a poor shadow of a reader, and I bow to you.

  20. Ellie M.
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 15:23:43

    Nora R. has a good point — I don’t enjoy reading in small, well-chewed nuggets of time as much as I do gobbling. Book gluttony, yay!

  21. Nalini Singh
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 15:34:37

    I’m with the book gobblers. If a book hooks me, that’s it. I must finish it NOW!

    Pitiful story – after 3 years in Japan, I had quite the hoard of books. Did I leave them behind? Welllllll, some of them. The rest got shipped across the ocean… Sad, very sad.

  22. Karen Scott
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 15:50:19

    I couldn’t tell you how many books I own, I never counted, but one of our guest rooms has been turned into a home just for my books. Hubby hates it, so I consented a bit, and let him put some of the books into our attic.

    I have just over 900 ebooks. I have no idea how I endedup with that many. Instant Gratification can be very expensive.

  23. Robin
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 16:17:24

    I’m trying to understand why I should feel the least bit guilty about my AR status, or the thousands(?) of books I have (between academic work, other stuff, fiction reading, work work, and school). Seriously — it’s *reading*, it’s a good thing, a positive thing, something that actually adds to the world when people indulge in it collectively. Just think if everyone actually read more — we might even have a functioning two-party democratic political system in this country.

    Now, my need to buy sweets for myself and fail to finish them before I get bored and buy more — THAT I’ll contemplate some guilt over.

  24. Josie
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 18:15:35

    Thank God for all of you – I feel so much better about my buying / hoarding compulsions now. I’m also quite thankful that my addiction is to books instead of crack.

    I have two TBR piles – the A pile which is about 15 – 20 books normally and the B pile which is hidden between my bedside table and the wall and consists of about 50 books. As and Bs are regularly re-organised into different reading orders. I also have books stuffed into shelves, baskets, cupboards, under the bed, in drawers and stacked in piles along walls. I do manage to read about 4 a week on average.

    I have no way to justify this other than it makes me very, very happy!

  25. romblogreader
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 18:24:36

    There is a reason for the streeting on Tuesday thing, and I can’t remember the specifics, but it’s the same reason DVDs and music “streets” on Tuesday. I think it has something to do with the fact that deliveries aren’t made on Sundays (or traditionally weren’t) so the week’s new releases would come in over the course of the day on Monday, and be ready to be put on the shelves for Tuesday.

    Something like that. I”m not explaining it precisely right, but there is a reason.

  26. Miki
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 20:47:23

    Avid reader? Of course! But I don’t want an intervention…I just want more room! (Being an AR in a 428-sq. ft. apartment is logistically…difficult). :)

  27. DebR
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 22:51:06

    Your AR description just sounds like a nice, normal person to me. :-)

    I’ve never counted my book collection. I’m afraid to. I’m quite sure it’s somewhere in the thousands and that’s after a pretty significant book purge a couple of years ago. My TBR piles alone have to be at least something like a couple hundred books at this point – and I admit, that part is a little overwhelming sometimes. But which ones would I give up???

  28. Nora Roberts
    Mar 14, 2007 @ 07:20:59

    Re the Tuesday release policy–from Penguin’s head of sales:

    This actually came from the BIG retailers (Wal-Mart,Target.etc). It started with the Music and video companies and books were added later on. They wanted one day when all of the new release big entertainment products would be on sale (it’s now called super Tuesdays)

  29. Robert Mitchell
    Mar 18, 2007 @ 04:57:44

    I’m an AR myself, I completely understand the young lady that was asked if she was on drugs or something “Last week, I had to get my car fixed and didn’t have the dough for it, so I had to hit up my mom and she said, “what are you, on drugs?” and I said, “yeah, kind of– stupid books.” Book Crack! Still I consider it to be a *good* addiction, one I’ve had for about fifty years now.

    I’m also a very *fast* reader and have been averaging 2 or 3 books a day since I was ten, which sometimes leads to problems finding new material to read and gnashing of teeth at the length of time between books by favorite authors. But it also lead me to read in a lot of different genres, SF/F, Romance, Westerns, Detective, Adventure, Biographies, History, and Military History.

    Grin. Lately I finally found a new solution for my addiction, I became a volunteer slush reader, not as good as being a *paid* reader but boy do I get to read a lot!

    Being an AR is also one of the reasons I got involved in the E-Book Reader project over at Baen’s Bar. The idea of being able to carry a whole library around with me in a pocket was just too appealing not to. But when I started looking around for a good reader I didn’t like what I found, too small a screen, too expensive for someone like me [I’m on disability and money gets tight], won’t read other formats, etc. The usual problems. Hopefully we’ll be able to address them in a satisfactory manner.

    My TBR stack seldom reaches more than 10 books at a time since I can seldom afford more than that. But boy does my Been Read stack mount up sometimes! I have a six shelf bookcase by the bed and have to clear it out every other month or so. Thank goodness for Used bookstores and trading and public libraries.

  30. Dear Author.Com | Tuesday: The Holy Day of Publishing and How It Forms Reader Expectations
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 04:01:46

    […] Times Digest, by the way, is available at $1 per day. Not bad. Then, of course, I blogged last week, and Ms. Roberts’ consulted with the head of marketing at Penguin who told her This […]

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