Y’all know by now we’re breaking records and freezing our patooties off in the Northeast US. That means typing on the keyboard wearing gloves with the finger tips removed, wool socks, frozen water pipes and ice, lots of ice.
You wake up to the sound of crackling as the roof, the siding, tree limbs… everything that moves in the howling gale is popping like my joints when I get out of bed. I’m lost in a world of monument-sized rice krispies and not loving it.
Le sigh, winter sucks.
This is the time of year I tend to get frisky and try new things (boredom). I’m an avid reader, gobbling up prodigious quantities of tomes, from
pretentious life-affirming lit-fic to fantasy, romance (lots and lots of romance—call it research) and even the occasional DUF (loves me some nasty vamps, but hold the weres—it’s that whole conservation of mass thing). And that’s “dark urban fantasy” not Hillary, in case you were wondering, .
I’m also on a fixed income and very cash poor (giving snake eyes to the Republicans looking to rape SS and further line the pockets of the 1%). So after reading all the hype and rants about Kindle Unlimited, along with having author experience with said program, I decided to explore Amazon’s foray into subscription services from the Reader Perspective.
1) There’s a 30-day trial period and if it suits, for $9.99/month I can load up 10 books at a time that normally might run me $20-40 or more depending if I choose digital or print (ka-ching, wallet does happy dance) and…
2) I get to analyze my own reading patterns when under pressure to make the most of my “investment”, plus I can explore that elusive concept of discoverability we all hear about.
3) I can use KU as cheap screening tool to determine if a title belongs on my permanent re-read shelf.
For sake of disclosure, I have >800 titles in the TBR pile on my Kindle Fire alone (and I have two other, early model Kindles with unsearchable lists, using them as placeholders for books in for review). I need more books like I need a hole in the head, but be that as it may, when you are on a mission and trapped in an icy wilderness you do what needs must.
Or some such thing.
I joined the trial period in January. Then I searched. And searched. You’d think, with >700,000 titles available I’d be buried with a wealth of riches and running around like a kid on sugar crack screaming MORE MORE I WANT MORE…
Not so much. I did find dino porn and lots of stuff that curled my toes with a healthy dose of eeeuw. Creepy, unprofessional, poorly written, 10-30 pages wonders in the “there’s not enough $$ in the world to make me read this
shit stuff.” By-the-by, there are websites and lots of good citizens who actually peruse this crap so you don’t have to: this or this one’s really good with a video ‘n everything.
In order to streamline the process, I hit FaceBook and scanned the spam, review and recommendation pages for suggestions in genres I like to read or for authors I’ve been meaning to try but didn’t get around to it and then forgot. It’s a slow process of sifting through a digital card catalog, clicking on the link, taking a look, then back to FB, blah-ti-blah.
Eventually I honed search terms that pinned down some possibilities and selected 10 books of varying lengths, many of them nominally series. I say “nominal” because what the KU program has spawned is an explosion of episodic, serialized (extended chapters), TV mini-series style story lines with cliffies leading you into part 2 and 3 and…
As a reader, I consider these rip-offs, with price points anywhere from 99c to $2.99 (for as little as 10 pages!) and often with no discernible “conclusion” to the scene. They. Just. Stop. Howsomever, if I access these bad boys through KU, gobbling down one after another, I can save some serious coinage and hopefully enjoy the ride (if, BIG IF, it’s worth continuing after the first episode—most [75%] don’t pass my page one filter process and get tossed).
About that page-one-filter-process: before I use OneClick I check out three things—cover, blurb, inside the book. If the book passed that screening test, that only meant a book was promising enough to rate a bullet point on my Wish List. To deserve a privileged spot on my credit card statement, I needed a friend recommendation, a set of good and bad reviews for my edification and enjoyment, or a brain fart.
KU short-circuited that process to OH LOOK IT’S FREE ON KU and my thinking devolved into oh hell, why not give it a try. Ergo, let’s call this one: Good for Authors Foot in Door. That simplified things considerably so in the blink of an eye, I had four books (TBD novels, novellas, or novelettes), two box sets (10 and 6 titles respectively, including a mix of shorties, novellas and novels) and four on-going book-one series titles—all loaded on the Fire because I like the pseudo-shelves and eyeballing the next read by the cover.
Now, remember those 800+ TBRs residing on said shelves? The newest on the shelf have NEW emblazoned on the cover that lasts for a while but obviously not forever. And they aren’t flagged “KU” which means my bought New and borrowed New share the same shelf. Not a huge problem as I can go into my account and filter by borrows and the KUs pop in a list. Easy peasy extra-step involving opening Amazon, doing the password rumba, click this and that and the other thing, and by the time I’m back on the Fire, I’ve forgotten what the hell I was looking for.
Life in the slow lane at Casa Instant Gratification. Let’s call this DISCOVERABILITY IS OVER-RATED or Just Because You Are on the Shelf Doesn’t Mean Diddly-Squat.
Randomly choosing one, I checked the kilobytes: 284. Is that even a short story? I mean, really… 284 KBs is surely just a paragraph or two. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. It was a cute quickie without enough weight to have me deciding it deserved a permanent home. I smiled, went to Amazon, left a review… YAY me.
Then I forgot about it. Not just “it” but the whole experiment. Shoveling and trying to de-ice frozen stock tanks and keeping the critters safe, dontcha know. Survival doesn’t leave a lot of free time for reading. Besides, I was deep into writing Mending Fences (shameless WiP mention) so there you have it.On a couple of the writer group FB pages we were
Typically, you’ve probably noticed there’s an overload of “front matter” in ebooks—stuff you click through to get to Chapter One and never give it a thought. Now, conventional thinking on book formatting has this front matter weighted heavily with the cover, title page, also-by-this-author, dedication, acknowledgments, publisher mentions, copyright, the blurb, review snippets, praise, list of song titles used for inspiration, product placement lists,even maps and cast of characters.
On a KU borrow, that means I’ve probably way exceeded 10% of a 284kb story before I’ve even hit the legalese. Let’s call this SPLENDID FOR AUTHORS or Racking Up Coin for a Starbucks Vente Mocha Latte $1.38 at a Time for a 99c Wonder.
Now, if I get to that first-page-filter and determine it’s one of the 75%, and I stop because my eyes are bleeding from purple prose, lack of punctuation/grammar or any of a dozen measures of how well an author knows his/her craft, and find they’ve done a monumental face plant…
I return that dog forthwith because life’s too short to waste time on drivel. BUT, I’ve rewarded said author with $1.38 because of the shenanigans with front matter and that 10% trigger. Call this CONNING THE READER through SMOKE ‘n MIRRORS and Promoting Amateur Hour.
And since this is getting overly long, I’ll pick it up tomorrow after a bit of panic shopping because what’s coming this weekend ain’t gonna be fun.