Have your #reading habits changed since the advent of #ebooks?

1796593_669443539789357_731656816_n 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:

  1. check out my own books
  2. check out the competition
  3. 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.

disappointed 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?

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15 comments

  1. Interesting post. Like you, when e-readers first became available I was in the “I like a real book” camp. Now, I wouldn’t be without my Kindle. I think I am more likely to give up on an e-book I can’t get enthusiastic about than a paper book. But that may be because I’m much more choosy about the paper books I still buy (not many). E-books are usually a lot cheaper, so, having invested less pennies, I’m more likely to quit before the end.

    1. I think this is an attitude gripping more and more readers, which is why I think authors need to take note. Thanks for dropping in.

    2. Great post. As a slow reader (and writer!) I plod on until I realise the book just isn’t grabbing me. Then time to move on. Unless, when reading, I’m reviewing – and then I have to finish it. Can never be mean though; if I don’t like something, I’ll concentrate on the plus points. Always bear in mind the book comes from someone’s heart.

      1. I’m afraid I can no longer plod on with a book if it isn’t grabbing me, even if I’ve taken it on for review. If I’m not that interested, I would be giving a low star rating, and I’d rather not review at all rather than give one of those. If I can, I’ll contact the author directly and talk to them in private about the issues I had with it.
        I also can’t bring myself to give a good rating if I don’t think a book deserves it, even knowing how much an author as put into it.
        I think I’m getting grumpier as I get older!

      2. If I think it’s lower than three stars I contact the author. But sometimes it’s just not my kind of book so I just look at the writing style / characters/ settings. Anything that encourages. You’re not being grumpy, Deborah – just honest about your valuable time. bet you wait in queues longer than me. Now don’t get me onto patience in queues!!

      3. Exactly!
        And probably 😉

  2. I usually finish everything I start. There have been two exceptions: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and the first book in the Twilight series. I gave up on Proust halfway through many years ago. And Twilight, well, I’ve noticed that people either love it or they hate it. I’m definitely not a “Team Twilight” reader…

    1. I must admit, at the time I did finish Twilight, and the second book too. Not sure now if I would…

  3. Deborah, we have many habits in common when it comes to “real” books vs. eBooks. I am a classical book collector so those tomes will always be dear to my heart. If I want to re-read a book, I keep the hardcopy, and many times I do read them again. When I review books, however, I do it on the Kindle … highlighting, notes, search … those are invaluable time-savers for a reviewer or an editor. Can’t edit, unfortunately, on a reader yet, but I always publish my books as eBooks first … easy to change the manuscript, no $$ to change, and you’d be surprised what pops out at you after the fact. I recommend that every author do the eBook first. Saves tons of money and embarrassment with printed copies. I also tell authors, “You can’t proofread or edit your own material.” No, not even me!

    Indie Books and that includes me: Yes, some are very disappointing. You’re kinder than I am. If I get into an eBook, and it is not edited or poorly edited or doesn’t make sense or it just plain stinks … I stop, whether it’s page 1 or page 21; 31; 41–whatever. I have found that accuracy, clarity, and consistency (my three reading/editing criteria) become more lax as pages get turned, figuratively or electronically.

    Great information, and I say, “Hurrah!” Maybe if we say it often enough, someone will listen and realize a professional writer must have a professional editor.

    1. I must admit, I’ve ditched a couple of books this year within the first page – huge editing errors or just plain confusing.
      I still find it amazing how many writers think it doesn’t matter, or just don’t seem to know that they actually cannot construct readable English!

      1. It boggles my mind as well. I’m so meticulous I drive everyone crazy, but when it’s in print … it’s in print FOREVER!

      2. True, but if you do POD you can change it before too many people see it!

  4. Interesting to see others in the same camp.
    I have become increasingly less tolerant. I couldn’t put a finger on the exact reason, but it’s the same for print or ebooks.
    I would guess I have purchased more books but have made less time for reading available than back when I was complaining I had no time because I had a paying job! 🙂
    Blurbs are important, but I’ve ditched books with excellent blurbs that don’t deliver. I try and make a rule to *always* read the free sample on Amazon. I break my rules and often regret it.
    Get me to love (or be intrigued by) your MC and I’ll be more tolerant of problems like editing, for instance. But… clunky, robotic dialogue without contractions, dialogue which is effectively two monologues of exposition, head-hopping, gross editing errors, TSTL, plot holes, the list of things that trip me up as a reader is so long it feels miraculous when I reach the end of a book that doesn’t have any that I noticed.
    Traditionally unsympathetic characters and confusing passages (at least at the very start) don’t put me off.

    1. Seems to me we are all going much the same route though with our own personal micro criteria. I guess it’s a symptom of the speed and subsequent lack of time of modern life. Technology was supposed to give us more free time not less, wasn’t it?
      What happened?

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