“I never pay for an e-book and I have over 900 books on my Kindle.” That statement shocked me and another person in the car with me last week. All three of us are avid readers, the kind that read at least four books a week. To hear one of our sisterhood not only admit to never buying an e-book but also be very proud about the fact was surprising. Not that I don’t know via reports that the majority of books on e-readers are of the “free” variety, meaning they were downloaded as specials or from a library. They aren’t pirated versions. Instead there are enough free books out there that it’s easy to enough to accumulate a packed e-library with them.
“Well, I download the free ones but I’ll also try the 99-centers, but if the book is over $2.00 I need to have read something by them before and know it’s good.” Ah, a trust issue. That I completely understand. I can remember seldom paying more than $4.00 for a paperback of an unknown author. I’d have to stand and read the first and second chapter in the aisle before that expensive book would make it to the buy pile. Unless, of course, it was by a known-to-me author, in which case, the book was sitting in a neat pile behind the counter waiting for me to finish my browsing. Ah, I miss those days terribly. The weekly run to the bookstore on Tuesday to pick up my holds and to add more to the pile was a long-standing habit. Tuesdays at Target aren’t the same, although the lure of huge markdowns on books appeals. Gone are the days where my friendly sales bookie would always have a rubber banded wrapped bundle or two with my name on it waiting behind checkout.
The conversation in the car has stuck with me for the past week, along with the more important study that 97% of all music downloaded is never paid for. Instead it’s downloaded for free or listened to via streaming. I wonder when that will be the norm for readers as well. I’m sure the day is coming faster than anyone can expect when books will be part of a Netflix model. We’ll have a limited selection of the “top” books as determined by some listmaker and where you’ll then click the buy-now button and only get a downloaded version onto your device, and it will work for a year or so until the next hardware/software version evolves. The Kindle has gone through enough versions now that the first very expensive Oprah’s Favorite Thing is generally now gathering dust in a closet or replaced by the tablet.
But what about the book collectors, those souls like me who love the feel of paper? What about those who know exactly where a book will fall open as it’s been read and re-read so many times? Where do we fit into the bold new world of books? I’ll admit I’ve changed my discovery process. Instead of spending an hour each week in a bookstore going through each of the shelves in the romance and then the science-fiction aisles, followed by the mystery section, I check my mailbox for the subject lines with the titles of new books. Or I’ll go to the what’s-out-this-week section of a favorite site to check what’s been released. Although Amazon used to have books on their front page, now it’s all dresses and electronics that fill up my landing page. They aren’t acting like a proper purveyor of books. At least Barnes & Noble will have a carousel of books on their homepage to entice and inform me.
I think that without the suggestions of fellow members of my book clubs, so many good books would be missed. We all need the advice of fellow discoverers.
Taking their advice, I’ve recently discovered G.A. Aiken’s world filled with snarky and snappy dragons and their lovers. Her Dragon Kin series has great covers and even better storylines. It’s not filled with human-dragon love stories, although one or two slipped in, but instead the ones I love best are with two-dragon relationships. It takes a strong male dragon to go into the den with a strong female dragon. Out now is a reissued print version of the first in the series, Dragon Actually (Zebra; November 5, 2013) and included is the long novella A Tale of Two Dragons which explains the history of two main characters in the series. You can get both in print or the novella alone as an e-book. So, depending on your collection and reading preference, you’ve got it covered. In Dragon Actually, a feared female warrior with the nickname Annwyl the Bloody has a new trainer to help her get ready for upcoming war. She discovers he isn’t just a great soldier but has a few other important character traits, like scales, breath that wipes out a village and a way in the sack that is unmatched. If this doesn’t sound that enticing to you, trust me—if you love action, good sex and a building relationship between two characters that grow on you, try it.
So, as a romance reader, what is your sweet spot for buying a book in e-format? Are you a freegan? Or will you try at $0.99 or $1.99? Or does price not matter to you at all when it comes to books?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.