Monday, September 15, 2014

Found and Lost: The Secret Life of a Free-Book Addict



It was at first an innocent act. Get a reader, people said. You'll love it. And you can get books for free.

So I got a reader, casually signed up for email alerts about book deals, and watched for tweets where the many authors I follow tell me one of their books is a deal "today only."

No one warned me this was only the beginning. Looking at those deal lists is like going to my favorite thrift store, prepared to buy gently used items at low cost, and finding among them brand new goodies, in every aisle, with a $0.00 on the price tags. 

So then I lost my mind. Free? On a device that can hold a ton of books? I’m in! And why pay $0.99 for a book when you can pay nothing for another one that might be just as good? This was great, but I felt like I was . . . I don't know. Hogging? Taking more than my share? 

At first I would only download one. Then a couple. What could it hurt? I wouldn't want to pay full price for that one later, would I? Eventually, my addiction escalated to as many free downloads as I wanted. But I didn't want anyone to know my secret. And it was all good . . . except for one thing. My husband, who purchased the reader, registered it with our shared email account instead of my personal account. This means he is the one who most readily sees all the notifications about the books I have “bought.”

“How many do you think you’ve bought so far?” he asked.

“Why? What does it matter? They’re free,” I replied, hardly defensive at all.

“I know. I was just . . . wondering.”

Long-time-married translation: Have you lost your mind? 

“I am checking out authors I have never read before. After all, I might be asked to edit one of their books at some point. And . . . and . . . they’re free.”

"Well. Okay."

Anyone-could-figure-this-out translation: You have. You've lost your mind.

Yes, I have lost my mind, at least over free books. But I have decided I don’t care who knows it. It’s the power of books and the power of free and the power of confessional blogging. Now all I need is the power to read faster.

For readers, have you ever downloaded a free or on-sale book and discovered an author you love? Who?

For writers, do you ever download a free or on-sale book to check out other writing styles or genres? How does that help you with your writing?

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