Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Binge

A couple weeks ago I broke down and bought my second ebook reader, a Sony Pocket. I love my Kindle, don't get me wrong. But there was this ebook sale, and, well.... If I wanted to read any of the books that I really, really wanted, it was either use the lap top (which has it's uses, but generally isn't a practical reading device for me), grow magical hacking skillz and strip and convert all these lovely new books into a format that would work with my existing ereader, or break down and buy something that would accept the formats the books were already in. And there was the Pocket. It was CHEAP (as these things go), and it was PINK (not usually a big draw for me, but I just loved that bright fuchsia from the first moment I saw it). So I gave in to my baser instincts and spent the money.

I am LOVING this thing. Not so much the unit itself, although it is adequate. It's not terribly difficult to use. I'm not loving the button placement (spoiled by convenient page turns on both the left and right sides of the Kindle), and the screen is a bit smaller than I'd prefer. But it's quite a bit lighter than the Kindle, so big points in it's favor there. (I always feel it when the Kindle is in my purse. It makes the damn thing so much heavier.)

What I really, really love about the Pocket is that my local library has expanded their service, and now I can access ebooks through Overdrive! Before all they had were scholarly works, and I am so not the scholarly type. I'm working diligently to rot what's left of my brain with works of pure entertainment. And now I can, for free! I was just using my city library, which has a kind of small subscription to Overdrive. Certainly enough to keep me happily reading for quite some time. I even have one not-completely-brain-rotting book on my wishlist- it's about Egyptian history, which is one of the few topics that could tempt me to read non-fiction.

And then, I hit the jackpot. In several places lately I've seen people talking about maintaining non-resident library cards, usually by paying a fee for the card. So I started checking around to see what it would cost me to get a library card in some of the other major cities in Texas and if it would be worth it to pay the fee to have access to their online ebook services. Which is when I discovered that not only do we have a major city library with dozens of branches around town, we also have a county library with many fewer branches but a much larger ebook collection. Much. Like, literally 10x the size of the city library's collection. Ka ching!

I spent the last two evenings working my way through the fiction list on the county library's website. (It takes a long time to go through a list of over 2000 ebook titles and pick what looks interesting.) I now have 9 new titles waiting patiently on my pretty pink Pocket, a half dozen books on hold, and 149 books on my wishlist. Between what I bought in those last two sales, what I've grabbed for free off Amazon, and all the ebooks available to me now through my county library, I probably won't have to buy another book for two years, maybe more! (Of course, there are a few favorite authors whose books I'll be buying anyway, just because I Must Have Them Now.) Even if you assume used book prices, the Pocket will pay for itself three times over, just with the books on my list now. And that list will only grow as new titles are added to the database.

I love my little Pocket!

Monday, February 08, 2010

It's a Pickle

I have a code for a free ebook that expires later this week, and I can't decide how to spend it! The options so far are:

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Fallen by Lauren Kate
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis

All of these books have points in their favor, and reasons why they aren't my #1 choice. My reading preference goes like this: ebook, print book, audiobook. Paperback vs hardback is a toss up. Hardbacks are heavier, but paperbacks are harder for me to hold open. Hardbacks are easier because they're logged in the library's computer by title, so I can reserve those titles and have them waiting together for me in one spot. Paperbacks aren't tracked by title, so I have to search the stacks and hope for the best. Either way, I have to actually go to the library to pick them up and return them. Digital books and audiobooks, whether I purchase them or download them from the library, are available from the comfort of home.

Crusie pros: I'll probably want to read it over and over again; it's available from the library but only in audio- I'd rather read it than listen to it; it's a paperback, so if the library does have it, I'll have to find it myself in the stacks

Crusie cons: less expensive than other options- shouldn't I pick the book that's going to save me the most money?; I'm pretty sure I've read it before, and I hate buying books I've already read

Beautiful Creatures pros: I want it BAD; it would cost me $9 for the Kindle version

Beautiful Creatures cons: the library has the hardback version, so I don't really have to buy it; I'm not sure if it's a book that I'll want to read over and over

Fallen pros: it looks like a good read- I like the sample I've read so far; the Kindle version is $9.99

Fallen cons: I don't want to read it as much as I want to read Beautiful Creatures; it's available in hardback from the library; not sure I'll want to re-read it

These Old Shades pros: it's not available through the library; the Kindle version is $9.59; I like Georgette Heyer and I've heard good things about this one

These Old Shades cons: I'm not dying to read it right this second- there are other books I'd like to read more

Instant Attraction pros: I've been wanting to read this author, and this book in particular; it's $8.96 on Kindle

Instant Attraction cons: it's available in trade paperback from the library

So what do you think? Any genius ideas on which book I should pick? And perhaps a better question, why am I stressing so much over which book to get for free? It's not like it's the last book I'll ever be allowed to read or something.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cheap Trick, Part 2

Well, I was right. The Twist I predicted on page 55 came to pass. Maybe it was because it was so clear to me what was really going on, but I found this book very blah. There was no conflict, no spark. I'm glad the book was only 190 pages. There just wasn't enough story there to make it a typical single title book. In fact, I think this one would have been more successful as a story if it had been pared down a bit and put into an anthology.

Either that, or she needed to drop the idea of the Twist and let the reader in on the secret from the beginning. Then she could have brought in more secondary characters, more complications, more conflict, and expand the story to one that really deserves to stand on its own as a hardback. Because this book, as written, really isn't worth the hardback price, in my opinion.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cheap Trick

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and I'm currently working my way through A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. It's billed as an Arraigned Marriage story with an Unexpected Twist! I was pretty sure I knew what the twist was by page 55. I'm on page 111 right now, and so far I've seen nothing to suggest that my guess is wrong.

If I'm right, it's not an Unexpected Twist! so much as a cheap writer's trick. The kind that you can only get away with once in your writing career. I used mine back in high school. M. Night Shyamalan used his with The Sixth Sense. Done well it can be tremendously effective. Unfortunately, these kind of tricks are often not done well, in my opinion.

The book is only 190 pages (in hardback, at hardback prices! I got mine at the library), so I expect to know if I was right or not by bedtime. I'll let you know. If I'm wrong, many apologies to Ms Balogh. But at this point, I really doubt I'm wrong.