How Do YOU Buy Ebooks?

This isn’t about formatting, but it is about ebooks. Thought you all might like to see how one book buying decision was made…

(transcript of a google chat on November 6)

ME: ah
the old man is really grumpy today and trying to pick a fight with me
I wish he would go to work
I can FEEL him glowering from here
MARINA: what is he so grumpy about
ME: I have no idea
that time of the month or something
MARINA: all of that and a penis, too. what a lucky girl YOU are
ME: no shit
lucky… lucky… lucky
I need a book to read while I’m standing in line to vote
any suggestions?
MARINA: well, if the line is long, A Game Of Thrones. I think I’ll be reading that for the rest of my life.
ME: heh
I guess I could try War and Peace again
maybe I can make it through on my kindle
MARINA: or not. are you looking for something new?
ME: yep
MARINA: well, joe has this, but I don’t think you are so crazy about him.
I haven’t read it, myself
ME: sounds heavy
I want something that makes me laugh
MARINA: expensive, but funny.
ME: that’s a possible
not funny, but a burke book I haven’t read.
MARINA: I love this, but it’s long long long. and none of these books are new.
ME: also expensive
MARINA: I’m pretty over burke
MARINA: I am getting a bit Game Of Thrones burned out. maybe I should switch over to Martin’s book for a while. but I so hate not finishing a book before I start another. except for john books
ME: check the Look Inside on the last link I sent and read the first paragraph
can I resist?
MARINA: holy SHIT, I’m going to get that
ME: me, too
MARINA: holy SHIT, it’s bert
ME: okay, have a book
now to boot the old man
MARINA: get him some tampons
ME: for both ends
grumpy old man

The formatting is less than stellar, but it starts funny and keeps getting funnier and a damned good mystery, too.

How you do you make book buying decisions?

20 thoughts on “How Do YOU Buy Ebooks?

  1. This is gonna sound super weird and maybe I’m going against the grain, but I have never once bought a book Amazon recommended to me. Am I strange?

    How do I buy books? I keep tabs on authors I like. I watch for their new releases. I keep tabs on genres I like and read samples of new releases. I keep tabs on subjects I enjoy reading about and read samples. I get recommendations from friends and family.

    The words penis and tampon do not usually come up…

  2. I check the Amazon recommendations, which are usually not very good, then I go surfing the top 50 or so for epic fantasy. I download samples of everything that looks halfway decent, then start going through them.

    Every once in a while I actually find something I want to buy.

    • Hi, Margaret. Then again, I also have friends who say, “You have to read this,” knowing that I will absolutely hate it. That makes me good for several hours (weeks) of ranting. For some reason they find this amusing.

  3. On the other hand, this author was new to me, those books were right up my alley, and I just bought 3 on Kindle and 4 used (no eBook versions). So this article was the discovery for me. (And thanks!)

  4. Hi, Jaye: My book-buying comes from recommendations of others, from loyalty to an author or series once discovered, or, possibly, discovering the book in a brick-and-mortar store and having something about it catch my eye (physical or virtual). I have much less experience — and patience! — with the less-than-helpful search engines utilized currently by The Big Two. Of course, I have to “settle” for things in an ePub format, which I’m told considerably narrows my chances of having a nice hot read on Saturday night. 😉

    I am slowly trying to get more familiar with various e-book retailers, but it’s actually very hit-n-miss, which usually winds up with me angry. (And at 6’6″, 350lbs, most folk don’t like to make me angry… which is odd, ’cause I’m pretty much a teddy bear… until I find a typo or a glaring formatting error. ) Actually, searching through the Barnes and Noble store on the Nook Tablet seems to eliminate amy mention whatsoever of traditional paper books (how very “1984” of them!), which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes is not, making me believe no such book exists when, in fact, they might have a hardback and a mass media paperback available, but because I’ve been relegated to Nook-land, those titles never appear.

    • I actually do very little browsing on Amazon. Unless I’m chatting with a friend and we ‘shop” together, which is a hoot. A little over a year ago 80% of my discoveries came through the library. I’d randomly pull an armload of books off the shelves and bring them home to read. If i really liked an author, I’d start buying their work. Nowadays, ebooks are cheap enough that I can do all the random reading I want and stay within my budget. The ratio of DNF (did not finish) is about the same as it was for books I got from the library. And I’ve discovered about the same number of must-buy authors. And, as with library books, I’m not stuck with stacks of books which must be dusted or disposed of.

      I get a lot of recommendations from blogs and twitter. I figure if someone can write an interesting blog, or make interesting comments on other blogs (including this one), or entertain me on twitter, it’s worth five bucks (more or less) to see if they write interesting books, too. Many of the writers I like don’t blog or tweet much, but many of them do have newsletters to let me know when they have a new release.

      I read mostly genre fiction, but I’m not locked into any one genre. I’m open when friends say, “You should try this.” No guarantee I’ll love the book, but it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be a discussion of some type, which is much fun all by itself.

  5. You and marina should post your conversations more often if they are like this still laughing, but if you and hubby were standing in the queue to vote then in his defence I can accept a bit of grumpiness. Do you know, not once in my adult life have I ever seen a report on polling day here in the UK that there has ever been a queue at a polling station on voting day and I would be so grumpy if I had to queue and vote for someone who is going to prove as useless as the previous one…….

    As to e books , I go for the authors I like and recommendations from my friends and as to Amazon’s email with recommendations, I am to lazy to click on the link to unsubscribe, so I just delete it without even opening it up…….

    Take care my sweet xxx

    • Hi, Tom. I’ve told Marina we should publish all our book shopping chats. It’s an education for publishers in “real-time” as to how decisions are made in on-line shopping. Have to edit out the really raunchy stuff, though. Wouldn’t want anybody thinking I’m a dirty old lady or anything.

  6. In descending order:
    I have a small list of authors that I will buy any fiction they write (Barry Eisler, Louisa Locke, Lindsay Buroker, and Oliver Ploesch come to mind).
    I find books by running into authors online (very atypical, but I’ve gotten lots of books that way)
    I find books by Amazon recommendations. This surprised me at first, but it works reasonably well. The problem is that you can get in a rut. I got on a steampunk binge and pretty soon all I got was steampunk books in the recommendations.
    My oldest son recommends books for me. (I suffer from the father’s curse: When I was a child, my father said, in a fit of frustration, “One of these days, you are going grow up and have a little boy just like you!”
    I buy Sherlock Holmes pastiches.
    I look for books in certain genres (historical fiction, steampunk, detective novels).

    • Yeah, William, I know all about the parents’ curse. Heh.

      You sound like me, cycling through genres and going on binges. It does give the recommendation bots curious ideas, doesn’t it?

  7. Couple things. I don’t like to plug my projects because it just comes off cheap, but since they actually happen to be relevant here, I’ll mention them once. I sometimes just browse genres, but I’m cheap, so when I’m looking for new authors, I’m only willing to spend about $5 for someone I’ve never heard of. Which led to the creation of The Pauper’s Book Club ( I pretty much built the entire site just to satisfy this need of mine. 🙂

    The second project I’ll mention because a couple comments noted they follow their favorite authors. I do too, though not always their blogs or Twitter feeds, depending on how much they spam. Which is why I build Author Alarms ( I built THAT site because I only wanted to know when an author I liked had a book out that I could ACTUALLY purchase.

    Now, plugging aside, I had a question that came up reading this post that I wanted to poll on. How long is too long these days? I don’t know if it’s just from switching to an e-reader or what, but I actually check the length of a book before buying now, and I often skip over the really long ones. I blogged about it a while back, but it basically just comes down to me not having the time to invest. I’m three books into A Song of Ice and Fire (The Game of Thrones books), and I just can’t bring myself to start Book 4.

    This is especially a big question for me in my genre: epic fantasy. Like Game of Thrones, it seems a lot of the readers in my genre just EXPECT a 1,000-page tome of epicness. I find I don’t have the patience for them anymore. I just keep thinking, “You coulda boiled this down to about half and still had the story.”

    • I checked your links, Damon. Interesting ideas.

      I’m afraid the answer to your question is much like the answer to “How long should your legs be?” Long enough to reach the ground, I suppose. Books should be long enough to tell the story, no more, no less.

      I have noticed the way I read has shifted now that I read ebooks almost exclusively. I read more closely and I lose patience quickly when faced with meandering prose. I still enjoy lush prose, but the writer has to be a true master at the craft and it takes very little goofing around before I lose patience. And quite frankly, there are some books I wouldn’t want to read as an ebook. Some writers I enjoy have a tendency toward marathon paragraphs, and the idea of screen after screen after screen for one block of text is a daunting proposition. But that’s just me and I can’t speak for any other reader’s preferences.

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