Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The pain of change

I went to the book store for the ebook help group meeting we have each month and noticed some significant changes.  The most obvious was the huge areas of discounted books.   E books have been hurting  paper publishing for a while, but to see  the huge areas of books discounted for sale was very telling.

As I always do  when we meet in the bookstore, I stopped by the romance section and picked up some books.  I always buy something when I meet somewhere.  I consider it "paying the rent" for the meeting.

When I got home I opened my bag of goodies and sat down to read.   That was when I got a major shock.   Harlequinn, the biggest most stable of the romance book companies  changed their books!  I picked up the Special Editions for this month.  Number 2197 and 2198 were normal, but book 2201 "The CEO's Unexpected Proposal" By Karen Rose Smith was different.   The cover  was half as thick, the pages felt like newsprint paper it was so thin.  After decades the same, the solid romance book series felt flimsy.

The writing was good as always for Karen Rose Smith, but the book felt wrong.  The smell  and the visual input was and is the same.  The book even weighs nearly the same, only 2 ounces less than the previous. (yes, I am crazy enough to have measured that) But the book feel different. It just does not feel right. The cover is so thin it curled just by my opening the book.  the pages turn differently since they are so thin.   the whole experience is different.

I know Harlequinn has been doing things differently, but the differences have been subtle.  Although I do not know if it si policy or not, I have noticed they have stopped using anyone but their established writers with a guaranteed fan base.   I do not think I have read any Harlequinn books form a new writer in a couple years.  Business wise it makes sense, but it does hurt all of us as writers when we can not get into the good old girls network.

Even so, the feel of a book is one of the few sales features it has over ebooks.   If we are losing that, we may lose the paperbacks altogether.  I hope that does not happen.  I really truly do like turning real pages and reading a book with a real physical feel at times.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are free reads really free?

Looking through the freebies and  low cost  books on  Amazon, Apple, and other services, I have stumbled upon an interesting realization.   Nothing out there is free.

Yes, I know, Not really big news is it?  Most free things are designed to get your attention and lead you by the nose into  something expensive.  In the case of the  ebooks that is often the case as well.   You often find books whose complete story is only a partial story.   They come to a stopping point , but not to the end of the story.  The story is continued in the author's other books.  Sort of a baited hook for the readers.  I do not have anything against those books, as long as they are well written and contain at least a stopping point.

Aside from the hook books, there are sampler books.  Some of them may have a mini story  or a few scenes from a larger story.  I found one that had 500 ebook pages (About 100 regular)  with about 10 pages each from several different books.  That was annoying.  It seemed to be advertised as a short story book.  More like partial vignettes based on full novels you can buy.

Either way, the books leave you unsatisfied.  No closure.

Don't get me wrong, there are indeed free reads out there.  I got several Harlequin category romances.  Some were charity romances, that is they focus on a charity and have the hero or heroine involved in it  to help bring awareness of that charity to the world of readers.

There are also hundreds of writers who have never been published who decided to put out books, and are trying to get the books out there by offering them free. Some of these are great.  Many of them are book you can see why no one published them before.

But now you have to ask yourself.  If I only read free reads, what will happen to the authors and stores that depend on book purchases to survive.  The truth is, readers make up a huge economy.  when we stop reading books that pay  people to write, we start to lose writers and stores.  Economists say the fear of spending cuts spending, and reduced spending causes  the problems people fear would have happened.  Stop the downward spiral and buy some books.  The writer you help may be someone close to you.