I posted this on my own blog a couple of days ago, and thought as it has relevance to indie authors, I would share it here as well.
Like so many, when ebooks first arrived on the scene I was a bit sniffy about them – “I like a real book,” I said.
I know quite a few who still haven’t succumbed to the electronic reader, though they are a dwindling group.
When I finally embraced the indie revolution and decided to self-publish, it went without saying that I purchased an ebook reader (Kindle Fire, in my case), and downloaded a kindle app to all my devices, so I could:
- check out my own books
- check out the competition
- read lots and lots of books that didn’t cost much and didn’t take over every shelf/cupboard/window ledge (and under beds) in my entire house.
Next, becoming an indie author and maintaining a blog involved producing content, and after a bit of experimentation, I settled on a mix of news, reviews, articles on writing – and hosting other authors on blog tours.
As a result, I find myself signing up for a number of review tours, and reading books I didn’t originally go shopping for, but which sound interesting. And here is where I’ve noticed how far my reading habits have changed.
Sadly, I find I’m becoming less tolerant. Back in the day, when books cost £8 – £10 a copy, I would read from cover to cover whether I was enthralled or not. I’d paid for the book and damned if I wasn’t going to get my money’s worth!
Those books were, of course, traditionally published; but that doesn’t mean to say they were all good – I’ve read many a turkey and wondered how the hell it got published. But no matter how crappy it was, my habit was to always finish.
Nowadays? My habit has been well and truly broken.
My kindle is stuffed to bursting with far more books than I will ever read, and I add more daily. The majority are indie books, and many are very good.
Unfortunately, many are not.
I really hate adding to my DNF list, as I know intimately how much time has gone into writing each and every book; the passion, the agonising over whether it’s good enough, the money spent (patently not on all of them, but most). But with that plethora of reading material available, I just don’t have time to invest in a book I’m not enthralled by.
Hence the change in habit. I now give a book 2 chapters to win me over (provided I haven’t ditched it before that, due to formatting and writing errors, or construction and/or word choice I just can’t bear), and if I’m not thoroughly hooked by then, I stop and delete.
This post, like my earlier rant about cliff hanger endings here, has been prompted by a book I really wanted to like, but just couldn’t. I took it on as part of a review tour, and had to pull out (which I feel slightly guilty about), but the first chapter left me cold, and while the second was markedly better, I realised that it was the main character I did not care for, so not a good basis on which to continue.
The concept is terrific. I scanned the book to see where it was going, and the plot looks as good as it promised to be from the blurb. But that MC? I understand the issues with writing a somewhat unsympathetic character, and this was an exiled fae, with major issues in his life that led him to be rather cold and unpredictable emotionally and in his dealings with other people. I get that. But I couldn’t warm to him, so sadly that was that.
I find that I’m also much quicker to dismiss a book on its blurb – if I’m not hooked in the first two sentences, I don’t look any further.
I find this change a bit sad, but I’m guessing there are many other readers out there becoming more discriminating too, and I take it as a wake up call – indies, polish that blurb until it can’t fail but grab the right reader (of course it must be tailored to the genre), and for goodness sake, start your book with a dynamite scene!
How long do you give a book before you put it aside? Or do you still doggedly finish everything you start?
7 thoughts on “Have your #reading habits changed since the advent of #ebooks?”
I loved the idea of ereaders straight up…but only as an extra way of reading, not to replace paper. Ereaders don’t smell right 🙂
Nor to they feel the same.
On the other hand, I can now read books on the phone in a supermarket queue…
I don’t get to read much for pleasure these days, it is mainly research. When I do, I cannot help remembering my initial negative opinion of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series. I really did not like the main character! I didn’t like the style of writing. Or the way he used grammar… and there were a number of other things that made me grit my teeth. I was living in France at the time, however, and though I could read perfectly well in French, reading in English was my preference for relaxation and I’d read my way through the English section of the library by then. I persevered and found what has to be one of my favourite fantasy series’ ever unfolded on the pages.
A book has to be very badly written before I abandon ship these days!
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Yes, Sue, that smell is so important!
And good for you, getting into and even through Thomas Covenant – that was one of the few paper books I gave up on, for the same reason (the other was Gene Wolfe’s, The Shadow of the Torturer, as the way the subject was dealt with sickened me), and only then because I’d borrowed the books. I daresay if I’d bought them I would have finished.
So A* for persistence.
I haven’t read gene Wolfe, but I have to say that once the books got going, Covenant’s journey became one of rare beauty. I came up against the same barriers with the second trilogy but pushed through … and there again, at the end, was something spectacular that made sense of the series.
The third trilogy I have not yet read, reluctant to find out if he can pull it off again…
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I’m worse than you are. Like you, I used to finish nearly everything I started. Since I was mostly reading library books at the time, it wasn’t the financial issue, but the fact that I knew I only had ten books to choose from that week (horrors!), so I’d better find at least a few that were good.
Then I finally got an ereader and discovered endless free books. Now, a book has to hook me on the first few pages, or I’m gone. I know I might be missing some gems, but who wants to keep chipping away at that rock to see if there’s a geode inside?
And, yes, that means I now write the first chapter of my book, then rewrite it, then rewrite it again, then polish it to within an inch of its life. I want my main character to intrigue and entice the reader from the first page if at all possible!
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Yep, that’s precisely the lesson I wish a few more authors would learn.
Yup, I’m a choosy reader too. I usually will give a book the “peek inside” feature before deciding whether to buy or not. Normally that’s three chapters, if I can stand it that long. But I recently committed to review a book in which I couldn’t stand the main character. It was grueling to get through, but I did finish it and review. In my review I kept my personal opinion about the character out of it and gave 4 stars. It was, after all, a good plot. Now, however, I’m leery to review anything I didn’t choose myself. Although I did agree to review Harper Lee’s new book. How bad can it be, right? She did win the Pulitzer for To Kill A Mockingbird.
Let’s hope it turns out to be a worthy successor.
I’ve managed to do as you have for several reviews now, but I’m learning to be tougher – I just don’t have the time to be reading books I’m not enjoying.
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