Thursday, 19 March 2015

Some thoughts on Amazon's free ebooks


I recently checked Amazon's list of free ebooks to see what's available. I really enjoy reading, and having an e-reader of any kind means you can carry an infinite number of books with you without the bulk and weight. So I skimmed through the list to see what catches my fancy. Observations follow below.

One: every fourth book had a set of male abs as a cover. Not even a face. Just a set of abs. Pleasant as that may be, it gets old very soon. Usually the book indicated something wild going on, as in ‘cowboy’, ‘shifter’, ‘bad boy’, etc. Lots of strong words too, like ‘possessed’, ‘taking’, ‘owned’ ‘bitten’ etc. Imagine being bitten by a cowboy that shifts into a gorilla and owns you, but he loves you even though he’s a bad boy and dabbles in drug dealing in between riding horses and you. But golly, just one look at those smokin’ hot abs and you’re willing to forgive him everything, from stepping on discarded banana peels to finding his old friends from jail at your doorstep. (I think I skipped all the ab-covered ones. May have downloaded a couple for research purposes. Just to be sure, you know.)

Two: every tenth book had the word 'billionaire' in its title. Those ones had no visible abs. No, men of that category are wearing suits and ties. I mean, if you are a billionaire, abs come with billions just like malaria comes with specific mosquitoes. I wonder for how long bad copies of Fifty Shades of Grey will be floating around. Probably until the time their writers realise that the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy is a one time occurrence and they try to copy the next best seller. I think my next book should be about a billionaire who shifts into a broke guy with a flabby belly every full moon, disgracing the young lady he seduced and now owns. Or even worse, the young lady discovers that the billionaire she has been bitten by and now belongs to, exists only every full moon! In reality he’s an ordinary pizza delivery guy without THOSE ABS and THE BILLIONS and now she’s locked in the basement of an unimportant someone who wears the same pair of socks for a week. She was taken in by the suit, you see. She didn’t know he was (gasp!) a were-billion. (That sounds a lot like vermillion and what I had in mind was werewolf). Oh, the tragedy and human sorrow! Oh, the angst and the deep meaning of this unique literary work! I am going to go and prepare my Nobel acceptance speech immediately.

Three: the summary of some books is so bad that it makes me wonder what the writer is hoping to achieve. The summary (also called blurb) at the back of the book serves as an advertisement and 'bait' to attract buyers. If you can't describe what your book is about without making mistakes, I am sure the contents won't be any better. And that discourages people from buying your work. In my case, I won't download it even if it is free. (But I did download some of the ones with the abs. Now shush. You don’t understand. It is a sacrifice for the sake of knowledge.)

Four: some of the classics can be found on the list. I picked Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and other such old loves of mine, for free. Yep.

Five: there are SO MANY books (and so many writers) out there. There's just so many of them. The fact I may spend the rest of my life reading and I won't do more than scratch the surface never ceases to amaze me. It is just wonderful and scary at the same time. 

To be completely honest, one of the reasons I go through that list is to try and discover writers that exist outside my comfort zone. Bearing in mind that most free ebooks I have come across are terrible, this might not be such a good place to look, but hey. I too gave my book for free a few days ago and I honestly hope I am not terrible.

Now, back to editing. On the count of one, two, three: AAAARGHHHH!

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