Why I’m rethinking how I buy books in 2016


Every book lover wishes they had beautiful, wall-to-ceiling bookshelves stacked with glossy hardcovers and pristine paperbacks. Another book haul from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, another five or six novels for the shelf.

I’ve not any different, especially when I watch my favorite Booktubers and wonder, “How the heck can they afford this many books?”

Like most people, I’m on a budget. That’s why last year, when my boyfriend and I moved to a new house conveniently located a few blocks from a library, we both invested in library cards. This means I can request books on my phone and then walk five minutes to pick them up once they arrive. This was probably the best decision I made in 2015 financially. (Total, I read 39 books in 2015, and a lot of those I obtained through my local library.)

Borrowing books means I save a lot of money. That also means that I don’t need to scrimp by purchasing books on Amazon for super cheap instead of better institutions, like neighborhood bookstores or other, less dominant online retailers — which tend to sell books for twice the cost but are better alternatives. I don’t have to buy books at all if I don’t want to (although every now and then I cave and pick up a couple, especially when I trek out to Half Price Books).

But never buying books doesn’t sit well with me because then I’m not supporting my favorite authors. That’s why, in 2016 and on, I plan to change how I buy books altogether and how I fill my bookshelves. With the exception of books I can’t find in my local library, I’m only going to buy books on one of two conditions: 1) I already know I love the author and want to support them by purchasing their work, or 2) I’ve read the book previously and adored it.

This works especially well for me because, for one, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books, and I only own a couple of bookshelves anyway — so space is limited. This way, I can also give back to my favorite authors and cultivate a home library of my absolute favorites. I don’t re-read books very often, but I like to admire the ones on my shelves and maybe pass them on to my future kids for them to enjoy. A lot of books I tend to keep also possess sentimental importance to me, so there’s that, too.

How do you determine what books you buy? Are you making any changes to your purchasing habits this year?

Goodbye, Goodreads: Readers are leaving a strong community behind


When news broke that Amazon bought Goodreads for close to $150 million, the book world freaked. People were scared and saddened — their honest, independent community was in the claws of the Amazon empire. Everyone’s in a rush to leave before the destruction hits.

This is the end of the “good” in Goodreads … isn’t it?

Maybe not. I’m not one to judge companies too early. No matter what their public face looks like, a company is a business, not a friendly neighbor. And if Goodreads is Joe Friendly and Amazon is the Mean Old Man, remember that Goodreads had a part in this transaction, too. Amazon didn’t pounce on an innocent bystander — or, if we’re still using the suburban analogy, catch him unsuspected with the water hose.

Right now, Goodread is still Goodreads, and you can’t be mad at it for making a new friend even if you don’t like the choice. So we’re all shifting that blame on to Amazon, the great evil that’s buying up the book market as rapidly as possible.

From a business standpoint, Amazon made a smart decision: Goodreads is an advantageous acquisition. But this doesn’t mean that it’s going to transform Goodreads from the ground up into something more flattering to its image.

Continue reading “Goodbye, Goodreads: Readers are leaving a strong community behind”

14 Kurt Vonnegut e-books for $1.99 each

Kindle Daily Deal Kurt VonnegutAmazon’s Kindle Daily Deal today is on 14 select Kurt Vonnegut books.

I don’t see Slaughterhouse-Five or Breakfast of Champions on there, but I do see Mother Night and Player Piano. And at $1.99 each, you really can’t complain too much.

What’s your favorite Vonnegut book? Such a great author! My boyfriend and I both love reading him.

Smart technology: Your e-books are reading you, too

e-book data

Amazon and other publishers are gathering personal information on readers through their e-books.

The synchronization features built into these programs track usage on what you read, how fast you read, and where you take notes, among other habits, according to an article on German international broadcaster DW.de. For example, these publishers know that the average reader will finish Mockingjay — the last book in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy — in seven hours on a Kobo device. That’s 57 pages every hour.

Some of this probably isn’t a surprise, though. Even users can look at the most highlighted passages in an e-book. If collecting data on users’ reading patterns is a breach of confidentiality, then what about the ability to check the most popular quotes and see what other people have underlined?

“We just know that it’s being done,” said Thilo Weichert, the data protection commissioner for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. “And we also know what the potential for it is. It’s certain that the U.S. does it because their data protection laws do not prevent it.”

With this kind of information, e-book providers can cue publishers and authors in to more potential buyers based on those readers’ interests. Is this distrustful or just another way of marketing smarter?

It’s a Philip K. Dick book palooza (and other good reasons to join the Kindle club)

Kindle Daily DealsIf you haven’t signed up for the Kindle Daily Deals newsletter yet, all it takes is a few clicks and an email address.

From there, you’ll receive regular alerts about digital sales — like today’s Philip K. Dick e-book collection for $1.99 a pop (still going on).

But the Daily Deals page features more than just one special; plenty of Kindle books go for $3.99 or less. You never know what you’ll find.

Happy hunting! What’s your favorite PKD book?