I Want It for Free!

I was recently ranting to my husband about how frustrating it is to know so many people with ebook readers wanting to download free books! Having written a couple of manuscripts, I now recognize that a book involves hours and hours of brow-furrowing concentration; back-wrenching butt-in-chair typing; and writes, rewrites, edits, proofs, critiques, and much more! It’s appalling to me that people are only willing to spend 99 cents or zero money on something that took an author perhaps a year to craft.

A few days later, I was skimming cnet.com for recommendations on video capture software. I was getting ready to type in the search box “free video capture software.” I glanced over at my desk which held a Starbucks “Pick of the Week” free download from iTunes. I reviewed my to-do list for the day which included a trip to the library to pick up free books for my kids to read.

Guilty.

We’re suckers for things that are free, and when something out there is free, we wonder why other people are charging! Truly, I do not subscribe to a newspaper or news magazine because I can get the headlines online for free. What additional benefit might I receive if I pay $39.95 per year for the news printed on paper and delivered to my house? Is  it worth it?

First-time museum visitors are also more likely to visit on free admission days (from American Association of Museums). However, the median cost to the museum for each visitor is about $36. I definitely availed myself of that opportunity by taking my kids to Children’s Museum of Houston on a free admission evening when they were young.

I downloaded the free beta version of Scrivener for Windows this week – which I am thoroughly enjoying – and wondered how much I’d be willing to pay for it. I sure would hate to have to pay for something I had been getting for free, but it took some effort to develop this software and I need to be willing to pay for it when the full version is released. (I sincerely hope that the price isn’t too high, though!)

What do we spend money for these days? Where are we willing to put our dollars down and pay the person whose labor provides us a product? What great things have you gotten for free?

My Reluctant Conversion to Ebooks

 

Woman Reading Book by C. Coles Philip

I lament the loss of texture. With our touch screen world, it is becoming rarer and rarer to feel the push buttons of a telephone, an ATM, or a debit card machine; the click of a mouse rather than the flat touchpad that moves my cursor around this screen; and especially the rough or smooth pages of a yellow-paged novel.

Sitting on the beach yesterday, I considered how particular environments are best suited to having a paperback instead of an ebook reader in hand. And why was I thinking this? Because in spite of my woes about the computer screen/virtual world, I was reading from my husband’s nook and hoping that the salty air and sand wouldn’t damage my portable electronic.

I was considering the same question when I got home, settled into a hot bath to get all the sticky sand off my body, and read from my nook. One slip of my hand and splash! ereader ruined. But I was really careful.

So why am I reading ebooks instead of my preferred texture-rich novels? I have to admit that it’s convenient.

My aging eyes. Now that I’m old enough to require reading glasses, I have to hunt them down to open up a book and read the 9-point font that someone in the publishing world thought was legible. With an ebook reader, I simply click on Preferences, increase the font size, and voila! easy to read and no glasses needed.

Multiple books/one device. I can juggle two books at a time with one device. I do NOT read more than one fiction book at a time. (I get confused!) But I am often reading one fiction and one non-fiction simultaneously. In this case, I can carry around one book-sized device and go between Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore with a few simple clicks.

Easy purchasing. My prior fiction purchases involved a trip to the bookstore (a favorite outing indeed) or an online purchase from Amazon.com and waiting a few days for my order to arrive. Now, however, if I don’t have time for a long browse in a bookstore or want to cater to my natural impatience, I can click, click, click on my nook and in mere moments the book appears on my screen, ready to read. Ebooks are often less expensive nowadays as well.

Change happens. I grew up in a family that was usually the first one on the street with a new gadget. We had a microwave very soon after they came out, even if it was the size of a small truck and cost the same as a Mediterrean cruise. But for myself, I’m usually in the middle — not the first one out, not the last one in. What I am not, though, is the person dragged kicking and screaming into modernity. You know, those people who just recently bought a cell phone or booted up their first computer. Like it or not, a lot of books are only available in ebook form and more and more authors and publishers are moving in that direction every day. So I have my nook, and I’m ready.

I suppose I can stroke a rough sponge, rub blank pieces of paper, or feel my legs right before I shave if I get an extreme desire for texture. I have a feeling I will be getting texture less and less from my fiction. Thankfully, the content is still enjoyable, no matter what the form of delivery.

(Note: I have extreme doubts about ebooks for children’s books, however. How do you present Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt or The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle in ebook form?)

Here are the fiction books I have recently read on my nook:

Making Waves by Tawna Fenske.  A quirky romance novel with corporate castoffs, a pirate mission, a beautiful stowaway, and a great Battleship game scene.  This is not my usual genre, but I enjoyed the book immensely.  Fenske’s protagonist is sassy, savvy, and sexy all the way through.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs.  A young mermaid lives with her aunt and attends “terraped” high school.  But her 18th birthday is looming, and she needs to find a mate so she can attain her rightful place as heir to an undersea kingdom.  She’s got her target in sight, but can she reel him in?  Childs has written a wonderful young adult novel with relatable characters and believable mermaid behaviors (loved all the fish references).  I will also be checking out her sequel entitled Fins Are Forever.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  I’m in the middle of this one, but so far it’s hard to put down.  A college-aged girl and her sister, both kitchen witches, housesit at their quirky aunt’s Texas ranch.  When some bones are uncovered at the neighboring ranch, they get more than the usual easygoing ghost.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have truly enjoyed Rosemary’s books.  Her writing is right up my alley.

How do you feel about the switchover from traditional books to ebooks?  Do you own an ebook reader?  How do you like it?  Do you think moving to ebooks is a good trend overall?  How do you think that ebooks will affect readers, the publishing world, or authors?