This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Say what you like about Amazon’s Kindle store prices; granted, a lot of books on there don’t cost much less than their print versions, but equally there are heaps of books on there which are given away for free (either on a permanent basis or within a small window of opportunity intended to boost an item’s sales ranking), or very inexpensive. I’d expected such books would be almost entirely self-published stuff but I’m pleased to see at least some publishers seeing the value of getting people hooked on cheap or free ebooks. I’m addicted to checking the Daily Deal each day, for instance, because if I’m even vaguely interested in a book 99p and a tiny fraction of the storage space on my Kindle is an expenditure so small I don’t even keep track of it.
The good side to this is that there’s a really low barrier to exploring the sorts of books which otherwise might not be your cup of tea. The downside to it is that because I’ve invested less in acquiring a book, I find I am less interested in persisting with it if it doesn’t grab me within the first hour or so of reading. Obviously if a book is actually good and grabs my interest I’ll plough on to the end, but I suspect the vast majority of the books in my Kindle unread pile (most of which were free or on special offer) are things I will read about fifty or so pages of before shrugging and deleting them from my e-reader.
That isn’t to say I could only ever have a transient relationship with the books on my e-reader or that free/cheap books are necessarily bad ones; books which you acquire on a whim and unexpectedly love are fantastic. But there’s a lot of e-books out there which I’ll end up picking up on a whim and discarding on a whim, making them disposable guests blowing through my e-reader on the breeze and leaving little trace behind them. In a fit of whimsy I’ve decided to call them “Kindlefluff”. Here’s a couple of pieces I deleted recently.