It’s been a year since I purchased my Kindle and surrendered my e-book virginity, and since I keep records of how I consume books, I thought an analysis would be in order. By most parameters, I’m an avid reader and purchaser, so if you’re a published author, maybe you’ll discern a helpful pattern.
Books read in the past 12 months = 126
Consumed via paper = 42%
Consumed via e-book = 56%
Consumed via both = 2%
In my Kindle at Present, not including the 144 samples that await me, or the 18 books I have on the go:
Conclusion: In terms of my ranking, or desire to hang onto books, I find paid ebooks more desirable. Whether that’s because of bias–that I don’t want to believe I’ve been duped, and am therefore predisposed to be more generous after I’ve purchased a book–or whether it’s due to quality of the product, I can’t rightly say. My hunch is it’s both.
I’ve noticed that my e-book consumption has two distinctive patterns:
1. Immediate purchase and rapid consumption, provided the price is reasonable. (Less than a typical hardcover.) I go this route when
- it’s a resource I require for an interview, blog post, or the solution to an immediate problem. In other words, it’s time-sensitive or eminently useful;
- I’m rabidly fond of that author’s work, and they’ve never let me down, even if they’ve switched to self-publishing;
- I’m rabidly fond of that author as a person and want to support their career.
2. Everything else
What’s changed about my reading mindset?
1. When I read the words “bestseller” in a blurb, I look for the fine print before I get too excited.
Some authors are great strategizers. They tinker with keywords until they find an Amazon category where their book will do well, then promote on that basis. I understand. I’d probably do the same. But I don’t equate “great marketer” with “great author”, and I bet I’m not alone in increasing cynicism.
2. If I’m on the fence about a book or I don’t have the time to read it immediately, I’ve taken to downloading sample pages, even if it’s cheap, even if it’s by an author I’d ordinarily purchase.
The reason? Recently, at least a half-dozen times, I’ve purchased a book at full price only to see it go free before I’ve had time to consume it. There’s something about missing a freebie that chaps my hide to a degree that missing “deeply discounted” doesn’t. When I’m in consumer-mode, I understand sampling and sales, but I don’t understand outright giveaways.
3. If a book’s premise sticks with me enough, I’ll buy it and read it long before one that’s been in my TBR pile for a while.
“Fresh” feels exciting. If it’s waited 3 months, what’s another 2?
4. E-readers make it possible to devour books on the treadmill or elliptical, and that’s played a significant role in my choice of vehicle.
I’m not fooling myself that this replaces true exercise, but I feel better for breaking up my sedentary periods throughout the day. What I would really love, for my keeper books, is the option of a free or deeply discounted e-book when I’ve bought the physical object.
What lies ahead?
Recently, I’ve become reluctant to download even sample pages. I attribute this to a glut of books.
I have a paper TBR pile that doesn’t seem to shrink. I have 144 samples already in my Kindle. I have 127 books in the e-queue. One author friend or another seems to be published every month, and I’m just talking about the NY-published ones. The self-published ones? Aye-aye-aye!
You get the idea.
I’ll always be a reader. I love books. But with a 2-year supply on hand, I’m increasingly capricious and demanding.
I don’t pretend to have answers, and I certainly won’t be prescriptive, particularly when I haven’t lived from the other side, but as others have asked, can authors afford the price of free?
What do you think? If you have an eReader, how does your consumption differ from mine? Have you noticed it changing with time?
I’m on the road, Zesties, so if I don’t respond promptly to a comment, don’t fret. No Outsmart-the-Tart this Sunday, either.