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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where you buy and what you buy

Just something I'm curious about...

Do you, dear reader, buy a lot of theater books and published editions of plays? If so, in what way?

Do you primarily buy online, through Amazon or a publisher's website, do you prefer to go to a favorite bookstore? Or some combination of the two?

Also, what prompts you to purchase a play? Have you ever bought a play you weren't very familiar with, simply out of curiosity? Or do you more than likely buy scripts you know to be exceptional and well-regarded plays, like Coast of Utopia or August: Osage County?

I ask this because I've been under the impression that most people buy well-regarded plays, but do so, in keeping with the cheerfully anachronistic lifestyle of most theater practitioners and audiences, at bookstores.


The Director said...

Last year, about once a month, I ordered a play from Amazon.com. I basically picked a play that I knew I liked and then scrolled down and saw the "People who bought this recommend..." section and picked one of those that sounded interesting.

Found some good ones that I'd never heard of, such as Burn This, The Bumblee, The Pillowman and Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays.

I also picked up the last 10 years worth of Humana Festival plays.

The more unknown stuff.. no idea how to get those.

Morgan Lindsey Tachco said...

I used to (every few months or when i was done reading them) frequent the outside racks at the Strand - the 48cent racks all the way at the end. They're usually old guide books: how-tos from past decades, museum guides & the like (you can find some old photos & design inspiration in these, as well), but there are almost always scripts in there. I would pick up anything I'd never hear of and some classics I hadn't owned yet.

I haven't done that in awhile. Now that I know more playwrights, I feel like I can ask around for what to read. I try to read Plays & Playwrights.

If I need to find something I don't own & I will need to keep it, I go to Drama Books.

I'm just not an internet purchaser with anything.

Laura said...

Pretty much the same place I buy any kind of books: used bookstores. I only ever buy new books as gifts for other people. Partly because I hate paying full price, and partly because the limited and unpredictable stock of a used bookstore helps control my book-buying impulses. It also makes me more likely to check out an unfamiliar text because there aren't as many choices to weed through.

Christopher said...

The bank account is usually empty, so the library card picks up the slack. If I've broken down and spent the oh my God $8.50 or so on a play it's usually because I happened to be in the Drama Bookshop or B+N at Onion Square getting some other necessity or browsing and decided "You know, you should probly purchase a play once in a while, 'Actor'."
As that impulse strikes at the bookstore, I don't tend to buy play scripts on line.

DPS said...

I do most of my buying through internet outlets (Amazon, or the publishers themselves.) I've found recently that more often than not I can't find what I'm looking for at Drama Book Shop, which blows my mind. Especially particular books ABOUT theatre. And if I have to get them to order it, why not cut out the middleman? Also, I tend to buy from Amazon through the NYIT Awards website; that way they get a little cut of the $.

When it comes to play scripts, it's usually something I'm looking for in particular. I don't randomly get scripts, unless I'm grabbing an anthology (like Plays and Playwrights).

Zack said...

I usually order on Amazon and if I have to read it now get it at Barnes & Noble.

I don't usually go with the amazing plays. I like to read the works of an authors who inspire and intrigue me: Joe Penhall, Neil LaBute, Enda Walsh, Simon Stephens, etc. I've also ordered the published work of a whole bunch of NY Downtown playwrights like Sheila Callaghan, August Schulenberg, etc. But I'm weird like that.

RVCBard said...

I go to bookstores because I can often find treasures I don't come across all the time. For the stuff I know I like (like "The Empty Space"), I try to get it secondhand.

I hate ordering online, even though I can be sure to get stuff quicker and probably cheaper than in a retail store.

I just like reading books before I buy them.

I also skip to the end of novels.

So there.

How ya like me now?

Tony Adams said...

Chicago no longer has a theatrical bookstore (weird for a town with so much going on, I know) so online and used bookstores it is.

Though, lately I've been reading more unpublished plays that have been sent to me than anything.

Ian G said...

I always try to buy books at honest-to-God brick-and-mortar local bookstores, if they're available. And I steer clear of chains, if I can help it, because I love the two independent bookstores I haunt so much I don't know what I'd do if they went away. I like going to bookstores, but if I strike out I'm happy to go to Amazon.

I have to admit I'm pretty pragmatic when it comes to reading plays: I tend to buy and read plays I'm auditioning for, or plays I should know because I might audition for in the future, much more often than I buy plays simply to read them. This means that I have a large number of plays with a single thing in common: they all have "a part for me". And a much smaller number of other plays.

If I need a new or newish play or theatre-related book, first stop is the Drama Book Shop. It's the only one of its kind left in the city and stocks stuff you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else, plus it's got character and can't be found in every upscale shopping plaza in America. I've got no real problem with the B&N/Borders juggernaut, and I do shop there sometimes, but not if there's an alternative.

But one of my favorite Manhattan haunts from the day I landed in this burgh as a sharp but clueless 18-year-old is the Strand. Everything is at least half off, all the time, used or new, and if you've got the time, what you want is probably in there somewhere. Especially if it's been published for a while. I horde Shakespeare and classic drama books, and I don't think there's a single one on my shelf I paid full price for. Its only drawback is the chance that the one play you want just ain't there, which is less likely to happen at Drama Books. But, holy crap, the stuff you find there, and the prices, are unbeatable, and in every subject imaginable. It's like Prospero's library, but everything's on sale. Many's the day I wandered in looking for a play for an audition and emerged three hours later, looking like some kind of Andean pack llama, sacks of books slung every which way, grinning stupidly and with no idea how I was gonna make rent.

God, I buy too many books. They're everywhere. Everywhere...