Thursday, March 20, 2014
Why I Don't Like Free Books
For those of you who already have a heart attack from reading the title, let me back up just a bit here. I'm not saying I don't like all free books. That is most certainly not true. I like free books for birthday gifts. I like it when I find books on the free cart at the library. I like it when I get Barnes and Nobel gift cards or when ebooks are free on Amazon.
But I'm involved in the book blogging/writing/publishing community. Which means that sometimes I get books for free for other reasons. Writers and publishers offer me ARCs (Advance Reader Copies.) Lately more than one publicity person from HarperCollins has asked me to review their books in exchange for a free copy. These are the types of free books I don't like.
It's not that I don't enjoy getting the book. I do. It's really fun to get the book. I don't order many books, so when a free one comes in the mail, I always give out a sequel of joy. But then, after I've read the book, I know I should write a review. And I hate writing reviews. They are something I do only rarely and only for certain people whom I really, really like. It doesn't take much to make me feel guilty, but I feel some seriously major guilt for not writing a review of a free book. Major, major book-review guilt.
But I only get book review guilt if I actually finish the book. For some reason books that aren't due back at the library in two weeks have no where near the urgency to them. It doesn't really matter if I finish them today, tomorrow, or next month. They'll be there when I get around to them, unlike the beautiful shiny covers gracing my library shelf. With books I get for free, I have no money sunk into them and no deadline to reading them, the only thing I have is major book-guilt over not finishing the stories these authors took time and energy to send to me.
And then I finally get past reading the books, and start writing the review. I write the first paragraph, a little blurb about what the book was about, and then I mention overall some pros and cons of the book. In the next few paragraphs, I explore these pros and cons. But with a book I got for free, I feel really bad talking about any of the cons. I know some people liked the book. I point out the wonderful font and the amazing cover. And then I might write a sentence or two about how I didn't like the POV switches, or felt like the middle was rushed. But if I got the book for free, I would never, ever dwell on these things. 1) Because I know the author is probably going to read the review I wrote and 2) even if they don't, I'll feel like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth.
In short, I feel like the point of getting a lot of free books is to write a review, but I feel like the fact that I got the book for free changes my review. The fact that I let myself be bribed makes me a sell-out, and that is something I never want to be. A vulnerability to bribery is one of my least favorite character traits of all time, in characters fictional and otherwise.
How do you feel about free books? Do you change your review if you got the book for free? Do you suffer from book-guilt of any kind? Or am I alone in all this because the title of the post gave you all heart attacks? Leave me a comment and let me know, or better yet, write up a blog post of your own in response and leave the link in the comments.
Thanks for reading!