So, I’ve now been satisfying my reading urges with only free books for two weeks.
My chief learning point for the past fourteen days is what a very fussy reader I am (actually, I already knew that; this exercise has just confirmed the fact). I often find it hard to discover books I enjoy because there are just so many out there, and so very many of them (I’m sorry to say) are absolute junk (imo; tastes may vary). Now that a big chunk of potential reading material has been cut off, I’m finding it even harder to find books I want to spend my time on – and I’m appreciating the Look-Inside feature even more than before.
I have also confirmed that there’s very little point to trawling through Amazon’s FREE lists to fill my kindle. I was very surprised given Amazon’s customer focus and their much-vaunted (if esoterically obscure) logarithms which I thought were intended to deliver exactly what the customer wanted, to discover how random the free lists were. I don’t mean the quality, which I was expecting – but rather, when I search for YA fiction I don’t really expect to find that a notable number of titles were actually erotica.
When free isn’t free
And then there’s the FREE element. A large proportion (like 8 out of 10 of the top ten) weren’t, in fact, free. It always winds me up when authors promote their books as FREE … on Kindle Unlimited, because that’s not free, it’s included in the cost of subscription. Quite how authors had managed to get their £3.99 books listed in the free category was a puzzle. Maybe it gets the books seen more widely, but I couldn’t help thinking a lot of readers, like me, would be annoyed by seeing books, in effect, shelved wrongly.
Pay it back with a review
A more positive development is that I’m jumping more firmly down the read-for-review route to free books. I’ve requested a couple with YA Bound and Xpresso Book Tours, and I even approached an author directly to ask for a review copy, which she was happy to send (that’s Laura Diamond’s Under My Skin, which I’m loving).
So, at present: On-line browsing- 0; Reviewing – 1. We’ll see if that changes over time. I’ve signed up for a couple of Free book Newsletters to see if they can help narrow down my options. I’ll keep you posted – can I actually make it to Christmas without buying any books for myself?
2 thoughts on “Free reading challenge: When FREE isn’t free”
Very interesting post. I like the ‘pay it back with a review’ model, but I do worry about what happens if you dislike a book you’ve been sent to review (admittedly, you wouldn’t request/agree to it if you KNEW you wouldn’t like it, but what if it catches you unawares?). I tend not to do negative reviews, because people work hard for their books… but is a (polite) bad review better than no review?
Generally, I’ll only offer to read for review if I’ve enjoyed the preview enough to be confident I’ll like the book. I’ll only post a review if I can give 3, 4, or 5 stars (I know some people think 3 stars is “bad”, but it’s a worth-reading-but-flawed from me and I think a considered 3 is at least as helpful to readers as a gushing 5). If a book didn’t reach my 3-star benchmark I’d just have to go back and say it wasn’t for me and I couldn’t give a review – fortunately this hasn’t happened so far!
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