Friday, August 23, 2013

Old Dog, New Tricks

I just did something that I only do once in a while: I bought a few Kindle books.

Did you read that correctly? I actually paid real monies for a product that someone else wrote. If you know me, this is a little shocking because I am infamous for prowling the "Top 100 Free" list on Amazon daily. I have only read one book from the hundreds that I've downloaded, mostly because I am very busy and my free time is very limited - but I am also nearing the end of two other books I've downloaded recently that kept my attention. Those were also free promo books for a day or two.

Why this leap into spending money for something? Well, I just got my first ever Kindle Paperwhite. I debated for a month whether or not I should buy a new eReader (my other options being my iPad, which hurt my eyes after an hour of reading, and my original Kindle 2 with keyboard and buttons) but, I finally broke down. I am thrilled with the device, and it has jumpstarted my book consumption back to a healthy level that I haven't seen since my high school days. I was very turned off by my old Kindle 2's single, computerized font. The Paperwhite looks like real printed type, and I love the backlight. I've read everywhere, and it's rejuvenated my imagination.

But, enough about the eReader. My point for this blog is that I've struggled with something mentally that I read about a while back when it comes to eBooks. I downloaded so many for free that they started losing their value in my mind. Why is this? I'm still not really sure. I think it may have something to do with the genre that is most often free, and that's coincidentally related to the genre that I am trying to write: romance.

I'll be honest. I'm a sucker for a good love story. I am a man, but that doesn't stop me from crying like a baby when I see Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley share a kiss in the snowfall on Downton Abbey. I am sucked in to the stories of these characters and their relationships. They're fascinating and engaging when done right.

However, I've noticed that there are a lot of half-baked ideas floating around in eBook-land. Technology is good to us and gives writers opportunities that we didn't have five years ago. But it's a double-edged sword. The ability to publish anything means that as a reader I am now forced to wade through thousands of books to find one to read. Many of these books are not my taste. Many of them are not bad, but there have been quite a few that had me scratching my head thinking, "What was this writer trying to do?" I suppose some of these stories are too simplistic for my liking. I need high stakes, even if those stakes are simply who will inherit a sprawling estate. I have come across many books that believe that I should be completely interested in reading about every little thing that the heroine does for her daily routine. This isn't the case. I need urgency. I need to feel that everything that is happening has a point for the overall story. It's something that I'm currently sorting through in my own manuscript.

Even with all this wading, I believe I have found a few eBooks that are worth my money. I'm hoping, at least. I need escapism. Better than that, I need to be well-read in my chosen genre. There are many how-to books out there, but nothing teaches better than a great novel on its own. It's also an added bonus when that book is a page turner!