Books, Reader, Writing

The Necessity of Free Books

The day I got my first library card was a 5-star day for me. Even when I moved to Germany, while my husband was in the Army, one of the first things I did was get a card for the base library. As a child, I couldn’t afford to buy books at all, nor did I buy more than a few books during the years I raised my sons. But as our family income increased, I bought just about any book I wanted. Now, as a retiree, that’s over.

library_signI’ve always used the public library to check out the books I didn’t necessarily want to own and to try new authors. And now I’m back to using it almost exclusively. But in this digital age, I have another option—free eBooks. Like most of you, when I got my first eReader, I loaded it up with free books, most of which I’ve never looked at since.

I’m more selective now. I read the descriptions and download only books I think may appeal to me. Not all of them end up drawing me in, of course, and I delete them. But I’ve read many good books I wouldn’t have been able to read if they hadn’t been offered freely.

Part of the drawback of self-publishing is that most of those books will never make it to a library—not even on the digital “shelves.” That’s why I make limited free offers of my books. I know there are others out there like me who are pitifully sad without books to read.

So, to those authors who’ve made it possible for me to read their work freely either by contest, free download, library availability, or by allowing me to beta read, I say THANK YOU.
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Author, Books, My Books, Opinion, Read, Reader, Reading

E-book lending libraries—the good?

This is the first of a two-part article on e-book lending. Today I’ll state my opinion of the good side, so I guess you can figure what part two will cover. I’ve known for a while about the Overdrive lending system, which works through the brick and mortar library systems throughout the country. My book is not available through that system—at least, not yet—but I recently discovered that it is available through at least some online e-libraries.

For all the time I spend online, somehow I missed hearing about e-book lending libraries. Yesterday, I signed in to Twitter briefly and checked my “lists” to see what’s been going on in my absence. One of the columns I watch in Tweetdeck is a search for any mention of my novel The Brevity of Roses, and when I checked, I saw the following had been tweeted by @BLFeed a few days ago:

REQUEST: The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis

I clicked the link and found myself at Booklending.com an e-book lending site for Kindle owners. Some member had agreed to lend their copy of my book in exchange for the privilege of borrowing a different book from another member. Naturally, my next step was to google “e-book lending” to see if there were other sites like that one. Indeed there are. I found eight.

Half of those eight allow you to search their database without being a member. I found my book available on three of the four that do. Seven of the eight lend Kindlebooks, but only four of them also lend Nookbooks. One lends only Nookbooks. Most of them require you to be a lender in order to borrow.

Today, I’m listing only six of the eight lending sites I checked out because I have reservations about the policies of the other two. I’ll tell you about those two in my next post.

How is e-book lending a good thing? For a moment, when I saw my book listed on these lending sites, my inner cop frowned. As I read the lending policies on the sites listed above, I relaxed. They use the lending feature of the Kindle and Nook, so each person who buys a book for their own reader can only lend it once—legally. (More on that in Part Two). So you buy my book, you read it, and then you share it with someone else. Maybe I’ve made two fans of my work. That’s good.

If my books were in physical libraries, either as print or e-book downloads, any number of people would have access to them. As one who’s made great use of libraries my whole life, I can hardly criticize that process. In the seven months Brevity’s been published, I’ve given away nearly as many copies as I’ve sold. Just last month, I gave away fifty Brevity e-books at LibraryThing. Yet, I’ll confess, it makes me nervous to know people are freely trading my book at these sites. Why is that?

I want as many people as possible to read my writing. Yes, I lose money every time someone borrows rather than buys my book, but eventually I’ll have more books out there and if they liked the first, maybe they’ll buy the second. (Gosh, does that sounds like I’m a drug dealer, handing out freebies to get you hooked?)

Maybe it’s just the perceived loss of control. Perceived, I say because for all I know, someone might have bought Brevity in e-format and already given copies to ten thousand people. And I have to be honest, there are books I’d like to read that I can’t afford to buy and my library system doesn’t have, so I’m tempted to see if they’re in any of these online libraries. But if I wanted to borrow, I’d have to lend, and that means I’d be lending some of your books.

Your turn: What say ye about these e-book lending sites? Do you use them? Do you want your books available there?

Read Part Two of this article.

Books, Family, Reader, Reading, Real Life, Social Media, Travel, Writing

Welcome to the Jumble

In other words, welcome to the inside of my head. (That reads as a total non sequitur if you didn’t read the title of this post.) Anyway, I’m blogging today about a few little things rolling around in my mind.

Yesterday, I downloaded my first library book to my Kindle. It was almost as exciting as getting my first library card eons ago. The print book has been on my request list for two months and I estimated it would have taken another two months before I got to the top of the waiting list. As soon as I found out Amazon had worked things out with Overdrive to allow downloads to Kindle, I added it to my library’s eBook waiting list and five days later, I got notice it was available to download.

My youngest son and his wife bought tickets for my husband and I to fly to visit them in the exotic locale of Lincoln, Nebraska. My son warned us there isn’t a lot to do there, but we don’t mind. It will be the first time we’ve seen them at their home in Lincoln, and we’ll be happy just to sit and talk. He said we might go apple picking, and I realized later, he’s the only son I ever picked apples with and that was thirty years ago.

I don’t know what to think about the new Facebook. I don’t really understand the Subscriptions thing. The Lists, I get because it’s like Google+ circles. When I post a status update, I can choose which of my lists it goes to, but what if I reply to a friend’s status? Do all my Lists see that? People are posting all sorts of scary messages about the increased privacy invasion with the new Facebook, so I’m a little paranoid now. Some people are complaining about the new Ticker, but I don’t even see it on my Home or Wall. If all my friends and family would move to Google+, I’d just forget about Facebook. Well … I do  like to play Gardens of Time or Bejeweled Blitz when I need to veg.

All right, except for this short story I’m struggling with, those are about the most interesting marbles rolling around in my brain today. What’s in yours?

Books, Opinion, Read, Reader

Is that a REAL book you’re reading?

spiralstaircaseIn Christi Craig’s recent post she spoke of Sherman Alexie’s misgivings about electronic books and mentioned her college library with a spiral staircase descending through levels of old books. That was my inspiration for this post.

I don’t own a Kindle, or any other electronic book reader. Yes, I think they look cool. And yes, I’m usually a sucker for the latest electronic gadgets. But I have misgivings about digital books. Call me a dinosaur, if you must.

I do understand why Kindle-like readers are popular with agents and editors who have to read numerous partials and fulls, usually transporting them from office to home. I can see their use for travelers who are able to take several books with them on such a thin, light-weight object. And I’m sure they are a blessing for others I haven’t considered. But I fear they are the harbinger of the death of ink and paper books.

Oh, that will never happen, you say. Remember the vinyl record album? Those who grew up with CDs never knew the experience of holding an LP in their hands so they didn’t consider their demise a big deal. And now those growing up with iPods no longer see much use for CDs. Maybe the next generation won’t miss REAL books because they will never experience them.

Books are meant to be experienced with the eyes, hands, nose, mind, heart, and spirit … and yes I suppose all these come into play with a reader—except maybe the nose. An electronic/plastic smell is not what I had in mind. But books are more than just an object.

Sitting in a comfy spot with a book and your favorite drink is a ritual. Propping a book in front of your plate to read as you eat is a ritual. Tucking your child in at night and sharing a favorite book is a ritual. Walking into a bookstore or library and gazing at the endless possibilities before you is a ritual. Okay, so it’s possible to replace a REAL book with a reader in the first two rituals, and—technically—in the third, but would you want to? And what about the fourth ritual?

It seems the new library will be you—the new Nook reader allows you to “loan” your book to a friend for two weeks! And I suppose today’s bookstores with coffee bars will be replaced by coffee shops with a download kiosk in the corner. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like a fair trade to me.