My husband calls them quests. My quest to build a digital library as a replacement for my actual library started five years ago, when I received my first Kindle for Mother's Day. At the time we were traveling a lot under fairly grim circumstances, and the notion of having my favorite comfort reads on a single portable device greatly appealed to me.
As they tend to, my quest grew larger in scope over time. First it was comfort reads...then all my absolute favorites...then almost favorites...then backlists. And so on.
Ever since Jill Marie Landis’s Day Dreamer went digital in October, my personal holy grail became Deborah Simmons’s The Vicar’s Daughter. Of the books filling my four actual (ie, not virtual) Keeper Shelves, it’s the only one for which I still have no digital copy. In reverse, I have five digital keepers without a print counterpart. My inner anal-retentive finds this incredibly annoying, although it would be pretty easy to simply buy print copies of Breathless, How to Talk to a Widower, Middlesex, Beautiful Boy, and Promises in Death. But since this is not my blog post on Why Should I Have To Buy Books Twice, that’s for another day.
Instead, this is my blog on filling in digital libraries.
There are two sorts of people in the world. Some of us re-read, while others who finish a book never plan to pick it up again. Among the latter is my beloved husband, who was not exactly excited when Christopher Moore’s Lamb went on sale digitally for under two bucks a couple of weeks ago. We both read it in print, and while I happily bought the digital version and told him about it so he could download it onto his Kindle to Have It Forever, he asked me why he would want to do that. Yes, it is one of his favorite books, but “I’ve already read it.” End of story.
Which is why I couldn’t properly explain to him the thrill I felt when I was able to buy a digital copy of Anne Stuart’s To Love a Dark Lord. Not a great bargain, but as I’d been looking for it digitally for...I don’t know how many years...yay, me! The bargain hunter in me was even more excited to pick up inexpensive digital copies of Wild Rain and Surrender the Dark, both old Loveswepts—and great examples of the Cabin Romance—by Donna Kauffman. Although the Stuart sits proudly on one of those four Keeper Shelves, neither of the Kauffmans do. But both are shelved with my Not Quite Favorites But Never Will I Part With Them, which account for another five (even bigger) shelves of real estate in my study.
Patricia Rice’s The Genuine Article and Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Bride are both Not Quite Favorites. The former sold for Kindle for just over three dollars. Since I bought the print version used—for a pittance—paying $3.24 was no hardship. I think I bought all my Balogh trad Regencies at various used bookstores, which helps because the digital copies for these reissues are not cheap. Still, she is one of those authors whose digital releases I track obsessively. Whenever one of her old trads that I’ve read and liked (aka most of them) becomes available, I buy it.
And then there’s Stephanie Laurens’s A Rogue’s Proposal, which sits in the largest part of my personal print library: the TBRs. Others of her Cynster series are among my Not Quite Favorites, so when book four, A Rogue’s Proposal, popped up as a $1.00 digital deal, I bought it.
Barbara Samuel, aka Ruth Wind, has digitized several of her books and at times offers them for free. I’ve never really loved her in the past, but so many of my friends do that whenever I find one of her books, I snap it up. The same for Roberta Gellis. Roselynde was free for a day or so before settling in at its $5.78 price tag on Kindle. Will I ever read it? I honestly don’t know. But I might...and it was free...and my Kindle has room for so very many books!
The roominess of an ereader is its best virtue. My physical library remains enormous even after paring it down time and time again. Its immensity can be daunting, and it’s certainly nothing I brag about. In fact, when we have Company, unless I know them to be re-readers, I generally leave my study doors closed.
Having a virtual library at my fingertips, then, within a single device that is smaller than a paperback novel, delights me to no end. Every time I am able to replace a print book with a digital version (which I try to do only if the price is right..it’s that whole Buying Books Twice thing), I smile because it’s one less book I need to physically keep.
Except where All-Time and Almost Keepers come into play. Yes, it’s true that digital reading is incredibly freeing; as long as I have my ereader with me, I can read anything I want. I don’t have to be home, I don’t have to search through my study, I simply turn on my Kindle and start reading.
But there is something to holding a physical book that even as a most devoted digital e-reader I appreciate, and that’s when the book is one I cherish.
One of the strategies mainstream publishers batted around for awhile was selling a print and digital copy of a book together. Publishers considered this revolutionary and brilliant. They thought consumers would love to have two copies of the same book, and by bundling them, they could charge more than the price for one.
I don’t get it, except in retrospect, where those five books are concerned. The only time I want to make room for a physical version of a book in my library is when I treasure the digital copy. Otherwise, my goal is to continue winnowing down my library so that when we pick up and move to Portland in a couple of years, I won’t get all Sophie’s Choice on my husband.
As for how I find all those terrific deals, like those I mentioned earlier...I pay attention. For a couple of years, visiting kindlenationdaily.com was a terrific resource. Now it lists too many absolutely awful free ebooks to be useful. If the site were somehow curated so that I could forego the pleasure of passing by I Banged My Daughter’s BFF to get do a decent erotic romance, I’d continue to visit. I still, though, read the Kindle Nation Daily newsletter. That’s how I found the Hunger Games trilogy for $5 a few days ago. I also subscribe to E-Reader News Today and Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals newsletter. I try and visit Amazon, The Squidoo Best Free Kindle Books page, EbookDaily.com, DigitalBookToday, KindleSpice.com, and EBookFriendly.com daily, and to pay attention to Twitter. I try and tweet about free or inexpensive books of interest, and I’m not alone.
To suss out other bargains, Google “free ebooks for date x” and check the results. There’s lots of duplication, but in doing so today I found something interesting through ThriftyNorthwestMom.com: Each of the Chronicles of Narnia were each selling for $1.99.
Another tip: With all the sequels and prequels, if you find a good deal on one book in a series, take the time to look up the others; you may find good deals on some of the rest of the series. That’s particularly true with erotic romances. Just recently a good number of books in a Bella Andre series were being sold very inexpensively; only one of the series remained full price. How did I find out? Another of her books was downloadable for free one day, so I spent two minutes and perhaps hit upon a good new-to-me series.
If this strikes you as a waste of time, well, this is what I do instead of going to tag sales on the weekend. I no longer spend time haunting Half Price Books and other used bookstores. Sometimes I strike out, but to be able to tell my niece about the Chronicles of Narnia sale for her sons was my Sunday boon. On the other hand, after several years I'm still waiting for The Vicar's Daughter.
Do you look for digital copies of print books you love? Do you simply shell out full price or do you keep your eye out for bargains? What’s been your best find? Where do you have the most luck? And if you do seek out digital versions of physical books, do you keep the print version or trade it in after you’ve downloaded the ebook?
What about if you fall in love with a book you read digitally...do you look for a print copy? Of course, all of this is predicated on whether or not you re-read. I’m not sure when that last came up for discussion, but...
Laurie Gold cannot stop reading and writing about romance—she’s been blabbing online for years. She remains a work in progress. Keep up with her on her My Obsessions tumblr blog, Goodreads (where she spends much of her time as late), follow her on Pinterest, or on @laurie_gold, where she mostly tweets about publishing news and [probably too often] politics.