Today’s article comes from Kosmo who writes for this site from time to time. This topic hits home with me. I’ll share my thoughts at the end.
I have a secret addiction – I hoard e-content. I currently have a staggering 204 books in my Kindle ebook collection, most of which are unread. I also have 29 audio books, including the entire run of the Dragnet radio show – 138 hours (which cost just one Audible credit).
On the surface, this seems absolutely crazy. Why would I do this? Mostly, it’s about the price.
- Free – Quite a few of the books in my collection are free, either via a free trial or a temporary book giveaway. I’ve been playing the free trial game with Audible for quite a while now. I’ll get a free trial, cancel for a while, then sign up for another free trial when I become eligible again. A twist on this strategy is taking advantage of very cheap (but not free) trials. I’ve used the $1.95 per month trial a couple of times already. I used one of my monthly credits to pre-order the audio version of John Grisham’s The Whistler.
- Cheap – One of my favorite authors is Lawrence Block. Block has been writing since the 1950s and has a sizeable catalog of work. I track him on eReaderIQ (a site that alerts you when book prices drop), and every once in a while, several of his books are deeply discounted. My “automatic” price point seems to be $1.99. If I see any of his books priced at $1.99 or less, I’ll immediately buy it, no questions asked. If it’s $2 or more, I’ll often buy it, but I’ll actually think about it for a moment. I almost always like Block’s books, so it’s usually a good decision.
- Other – I’ll also buy books that cost more than $2, especially when they are on sale. My thought process is that I have 30 or so years to read all of these books, and that my reading time should increase as the kids get older and especially after retirement. It makes sense to me to hedge against inflation by locking in the current cost. It also allows me to make sure my favorite authors gets the money while they are still alive – and protect me from estates that can be rigid on pricing (example: John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee series is priced at $11.99 for Kindle versions – 30 years after he died). Additionally, I can read the same book multiple times before now and my inevitable demise. It’s a gift from current Kosmo to future Kosmo.
You might have realized that there’s a risk to my hoarding. If the Amazon ecosystem crashes, I could be left with absolutely nothing. Although I am cognizant of the risk, it’s not something that greatly concerns me. If Amazon were to fail in my lifetime, I’m confident that one of the market leaders at that time would snap up the rights to Amazon’s library and would provide continued access for Amazon’s customers – it’s a logical way to turn Amazon customers into their own customers.
Other ways to get books
- Your library – Many libraries give you the ability to borrow Kindle books via the Overdrive app. In most cases, the Overdrive app hands you out to a “checkout” process in Amazon, and the book appears in your list of Kindle books. Why is Amazon partnering with Overdrive? Because they’re hoping you decided to buy the book and buy from Amazon.
- Kindle Unlimited – Kindle Unlimited gives you access to a selection of Kindle books and Audible audio books for a monthly subscription of $9.99 per month. It’s a limited subset, but there’s still quite a lot of content. Like most Amazon subscriptions, it’s a free 30 day trial.
- HumbleBundle – Several months ago, Lazy Man made me aware of a deal (as he often does). 15 murder and mystery books on Humble Bundle for $15. I had not heard of Humble Bundle before, but I was aware of the book publisher (Open Road) and the authors, which included Michael Crichton, Lawrence Sanders, and Randy Wayne White (as well as a number of authors I wasn’t familiar with). It took an extra step to get the books into my Kindle library. but it was worth it.
- ARCs / Author giveaways – If you run a site that does book reviews, you may be able to get Advance Review Copies (ARC) direct from the publisher. I sort of fell backwards into the ARC world, with my interactions with my favorite author somehow landing me on an ARC list for Random House. Every few months, I’ll receive a few free (print) books in the mail. Naturally, they do expect you to actually write a review of the book – that’s the whole point of giving away early copies. GoodReads does something similar, allowing you to sign up to receive free copies of a book. My understanding is that GoodReads takes user activity into account – so someone who routinely leaves reviews on GoodReads has a better chance to win that someone who doesn’t. I’ve entered several giveaways on Goodreads, and recently won one.
Are you a hoarder? Where do you get your books?
Lazy Man’s Confession
I am a hoarder of electronic content as well. Much of my hoarding is limited to websites. I have over a hundred tabs open on my Firefox browser right now. Every few months I declare bankruptcy and push them all away into OneTab. Once they are there, they are out of sight and out of mind. Then I accumulate more articles that I should read and act upon.
As for books, I don’t hoard them very much. I probably have 50 of which 40 were probably free. The other ones might have cost a buck each. Typically, I pay that dollar because I happen to know the authors. They are fellow writers and I want to support them. I have also played the Audible game that Kosmo describes above. I just never listen to the books. Why? My mind is usually actively engaged in something whether it’s writing an article or otherwise. The books that I’m interested in are typically deep thinking ones as well. It’s hard for me to focus on both.
Unlike Kosmo, I have little optimism that I’ll catch up on them someday. Why? People keep creating electronic content. It’s not going to end any time soon. This very article is proof of that. I would need to be in a place with no internet connection for at least a year to make a dent in all the things that I’ve marked as notable reads.
I add something to Kosmo’s questions above. How do you deal with information overload?