Mar 15 2013 10:00am

Book Quests: Adding to Your Digital Shelves

Day Dreamer by Jill Marie LandisMy 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.


To Love a Dark Lord by Anne StuartWhich 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.

Roselynde by Roberta GellisBarbara 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’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.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsAs for how I find all those terrific deals, like those I mentioned earlier...I pay attention. For a couple of years, visiting 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,, DigitalBookToday,, and 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 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 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.

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Misty H
1. Misty H
I've done fairly well stocking up on some of the books that were in my tbr pile, but not so much on my keepers list. I've found many deals when it comes to historical and contemporary romances but the main stream paranormal romances are a bit harder to stumble across at a free or cheap reader price. I highly doubt we will ever see a Black Dagger book for free and those are typically my personal shelf keepers.Which is fine because I do still read print copies of many of my authors.I do monitor the free reads daily as well as paying attention to my favorite authors. My Kindle tends to be used for new to me authors.
Laurie Gold
2. LaurieGold
Just thought I'd let Stephanie Laurens fans know...Devil's Bride is $1.99 for Kindle right now. Saw that during my morning "rounds."

Misty, you are right about the dark fantasy type romances not showing up on bargain ebook lists. About all I find are ebook only novellas that the pubs use to attract us to buy the higher priced parts of the series.
Misty H
3. KathrynBarrett
I've snatched up all of Barbara Samuels' books too, and am making my way through the ones I haven't read yet. But I didn't know Roberta Gellis was in ebook; I glommed her years ago (probably after reading book reviews on AAR.) I'm like your husband; I don't reread, except for my all time favorites--Laura Kinsale, Susan E Phillips, Judy Cuevas/Ivory, and a few others.

My problem is that Amazon books can't be categorized on the iPad Kindle app. They're all lumped together, non-fiction, fiction, and even the ones my husband purchased (before I made him get his own account). I keep hoping one of the updates will fix this.
Laurie Gold
4. LaurieGold
Ellora's Cave, the erotic romance ebook publisher, bought up the rights to a number of the Gellis books a couple of years ago. It put Roselynde back on the market at the start of 2011. I think a number of other books in the series sell for less than $6 each at Amazon in their Kindle store. You can also pick them up at Ellora's Cave, as well as many of her other books via their Blush imprint.
Misty H
5. Nicole Carte
I tend not to re-read, however, I still keep books. There are a few series & authors that I keep regardless of how I feel about the book and then there is my TBR shelves. Now that I own an ereader I find myself looking for some books that I read almost 30 yrs ago and cringe when I have to pay more for the book now then when it was released. I abhor the idea of having to pay for digital copies of books I own and wish there was some way to be able to get them free or at least steeply discounted. I understand about revenue and artist license but feel cheated when paying the same price for digital content vs material content especially given the fact that other media content i.e. CD's, DVD's, iTunes is not so limited. On the other hand a shutter to think of what happens when there is no power or the device breaks...which reminds me, time to back up files, just in case. LOL.
Misty H
6. SandyH
I had snatched up Roselynde awhile back from my Kindle and just finished re-reading it. I am now reading Alinor. I have looked at them for the Kindle and I am about to push the buy button so I will have them on my travels when a baby is screaming on the plane. I can plug in my ipod listen to Loretta McKennitt and keep reading.
Laurie Gold
7. LaurieGold
Nicole, I hear you. At least if you want an extra copy of a print book you can often find one at a UBS for at least half off. Having to pay almost the same, the same, or more for a second, albeit digital, copy of a book I already own in print annoys me to no end. Now that the big six publishers have settled with the DoJ in the agency pricing lawsuit, I think some of those prices will begin to come down. Also, when rights revert to authors on their backlist, and the authors take the time to digitize those books, the prices are invariably good.
8. Kareni
I don't have an e-reader of any type and read only on paper. However, my husband is like yours; he typically reads a book once and never again. (Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books were a rare exception.) I, however, re-read constantly. I don't have a TBR pile -- I have a TBR mountain.
Laurie Gold
9. LaurieGold
I can totally relate to having a TBR mountain. My study used to be floor to ceiling bookcases...including the closet. I've finally cleared out the closet and turned it into a closet again, and the one windowed wall, that only had books up to the windows, well, those books are now gone. Most are now on my Kindle, but others simply went to the UBS, which is where a lot of them came from to begin with. My reading eyes are always bigger than my stomach. Luckily most from the UBS were trades to begin with and cost next to nothing.

I can't imagine NOT re-reading. I actually read certain books once a year, just as I watch certain movies annually. Is it a man thing?
10. Kareni
LaurieGold: You asked, "Is it a man thing?"

Good question. I don't know. I do know that I read very quickly and don't always retain the fine details. Re-reading fills in some of those details.

I refer to books on my husband's 'keeper shelf' as trophies since they are only to look at and don't get re-read. He does go back to reference books when needed, but typically not to fiction.
Teresa Jesenovec
11. terrymike
I do not think it is a "man-thing" to not re-read. I do not re-read at all. Once I read it, I am done.

I do not read print books any more, even though I drug my feet for a long time before I bought an eReader. I erroneously thought that I had to have the book in my hand and that I would not like it. I did find that it took me a book or two to get used to my eReader, but I wouldn't read any other way now.

Due to all of my past reading, I have arthritis in both thumbs and now it is very difficult to hold any book, paperback or hard cover. If eReaders were not around, I would still read books--even with the pain, but since I don't have to, it makes my life so much easier.

I carry my eReader around with me everywhere. I am never without a new book to read so I do not worry about how close I am to the end when I am reading. I just go on to the next book that I want to read.

I think the reason that I do not re-read is because I read so many books and I would not have time to read new books if I kept re-reading old ones.

I did not go with a Nook or a Kindle as I did not want to limit myself to one particular format nor did I want a large device to carry around. With my Aluratek, it
"Supports PDF (Adobe Digital Edition DRM/non-DRM), TXT, FB2, EPUB (Adobe Digital Edition DRM/non-DRM), MOBI (non-DRM only), PRC (non-DRM only)and RTF electronic book format and Supports BMP, JPG, GIF, animated GIF picture format".

It looks like they are going more into the direction of tablets than eReaders now, but I will worry about that if and when mine is no longer working.

But like LaurenGold, I can't imagine NOT reading!
Misty H
12. HPBCompuGeek
@LaurieGold: "Is it a man thing?"

Being an avid re-reader (and also a guy) I can say no, it most certainly is not a man thing (much to my wife's chagrin). In fact, my wife's the exact opposite from me. I'll re-read books all the time, whereas with certain exceptions like J.K. Rowling or Diana Gabaldon, she's a one-and-done and can't understand why I'd "waste" time reading something when I already know the outcome.

If I had to venture a guess, based on my 13 years of employment at a bookstore, I'd say women re-read more books than men because women buy more books than men do. It's no secret the romance genre has been propping up physical publishing houses for years. And while men (on average) have a handful of authors they buy obsessively, (Lee Child, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, James Patterson), women (on average) are more apt to take a chance on somebody they don't know. Exposure to more books means, law of averages, more chances to find another book that you loved so much you want to read it again and again. :)

I'd write more, but it's time to start my re-read of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series again (love my Nook!)
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