I’ve been pondering the value of entertainment in all its forms. I mean, we have many options on how to entertain ourselves or to be entertained by what others do. This musing began while thinking about the huge amount of book piracy or more likely phishing scams out there, but that’s a topic for another day. The existence of book piracy suggests there is value in books, enough to run a scam to try to get potential readers’ money or personal info, depending on the scam. Anyway, back to my topic for today: entertainment value.
You all know I write books, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise they are my go-to for entertainment as well as research and education. I also enjoy movies, plays, musicals, concerts, etc. But which gives you the most or best kind of return on the investment into tickets and travel and meals to enjoy them?
I think by far the price of a book provides more hours of immersive entertainment than any other option. I love settling in with a favorite genre novel to lose myself in the world the author created. Historical romance, classical fiction, historical fiction, romantic comedy, cozy mystery, all sound good to me! I love the depth of the written story, the immersive quality of being in that other world, the one dwelling in your own imagination and thoughts, that you can’t get from watching a movie or play. The various media affect the type of experience, for me at least.
I know I can only read one or maybe two smaller books each week because each takes several hours to read and enjoy. I tagged on “enjoy” because while I know how to speed read or skim the text that’s not enjoying it for me. So for the $3-15 spent on a novel, I probably receive entertainment for something like 4-8 hours depending on the length. Of course, the price of a book is the cost of one copy of the story among many, the cumulative of which money received by the publisher offsets the expense to create the book in the first place. In other words, for the publisher to make it worthwhile to create the book, they have to guesstimate how many copies they need to sell to see a profit. Most books do not make a profit although there are some that are best sellers that do. Again, that’s a topic for another time…
Compare the 4-8 hours entertainment value of a book to the length of a movie or stage performance, which typically last 2-3 hours, at prices far higher. I mean, movie tickets for a matinee are $9 in my area, with regular prices starting I think at $16. Going to a play or concert, etc., is many times that. Being entertained by others means having to pay the entire “cast of characters” for their efforts, so it makes perfect sense that ticket prices are significantly higher than the cost of a single copy of the book. (Although I question the spike in the price of performance tickets lately.) It also depends on how many tickets are sold as to the cost per ticket in order for the production company and talent to make a profit off the event. They must calculate how much they need to earn to make it worthwhile to hold the performance. Nobody wants to work/perform for little to no compensation, after all. Even if donating funds to a charity, you need to have funds to donate, right? But the ROI for live performance yields a shorter span of entertainment value.
All that said, judging which form of entertainment to choose comes down to cost, time, and perceived value which is strongly tied to personal preferences. I’ll happily read in my favorite genres for hours but please don’t ask me to read thriller or spy novels. I’ll watch the movie or play, etc., based on the book to get the quicker payoff, thank you. Which also brings up the point that many of the other forms of entertainment are spinoffs or interpretations of a well-written, well-told story in a book. And how many times have you heard “the book was better”?
What do you think? How do you calculate the ROI on your entertainment spending?
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