Saturday, August 25, 2018

Top Ten Ways to Read Books for Free (without Stealing)

Recently I read an article online about book piracy. In this article were quotes from people who had the audacity to complain when authors were successful in shutting down book piracy sites. Book piracy sites offer unauthorized free downloads of books, often in the form of PDFs. They lure people in with "free trial memberships" and the promise that they "don't sell books." And they don't. Rather, for the price of a monthly fee, they simply give books away.

In case you don't see anything wrong with that, think of it this way. Imagine a shoplifter came up to you and said, "If you pay me a monthly fee, you can have your choice of the goods I swipe!" Would you take them up on it?

Now, if you've ever downloaded an unauthorized "free" copy of a book, I'm not judging you. But I am asking you not to do it again. Even though some may shrug their shoulders and think no harm done, the truth is that book piracy does cause harm. It hurts authors because it reduces book sales, and reduced book sales lower authors' incomes and hurt their chances of publishing more books. And, you know, it's stealing.

That doesn't mean you should have to pay for every book you want to read. Very few people could afford that even if they wanted to. But there are lots of ways to get books to read for free without hurting the authors whose books you are so hungry to pore over.

I'll start with the obvious:

1. Check books out at your public library. I know...libraries might not always have a specific book you want to read. But you can usually request that they be added to your library's collection. Many libraries offer e-books and audio books too!

2. Borrow books from friends or family members.

3. Sit at a book store and read.

Still need more?

4. Some publishers offer free e-books periodically to their newsletter subscribers. One example is Tor. Find them and subscribe! Plus, newsletters are great ways to learn about new books.

5. Visit a Little Free Library or find a cool coffee shop that has a book exchange shelf.

6. Enter giveaways. Publishers, authors, illustrators, and book bloggers run giveaways all the time as a way to promote books. I've gotten many free copies of books this way. Check out Goodreads as well as authors' and publishers' blogs and social media accounts for giveaways to enter.

7. Search your e-reader platform's store for free electronic copies of classics.

9. Take advantage of NOOK Free Fridays.

9. Become a book reviewer. Parchment Girl has a great post explaining how to get started.

10. Join BookBub and let them find free or steeply discounted books for you!

With all the options out there, it should be no problem for you to get your hands on plenty of free books while doing no harm to the authors, illustrators, and publishers who put so much work into creating them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Where I've Been, Where I'm Going

Last week I dragged my husband and son on a road trip through Nebraska for my first official research trip. We traveled the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, stopping at museums along the way, and ended up at Scotts Bluff National Monument, an area of stunningly beautiful rugged bluffs in western Nebraska.

From there we drove southeast, enjoying the scenery of rugged hillsides, then east along Interstate 80, stopping at various state parks and recreation areas along the way.

This literal journey is part of a figurative journey I have been on for the past several months, researching and planning for a historical verse novel I am going to write this year, as well as a modern fairy tale retelling. Both set in Nebraska, and both for middle grade readers.

I came home from this trip with a wealth of information and inspiration, as well as two new books, a dozen postcards, lots of notes, and over a hundred photos on my iPhone. There is nothing now to stop me from writing that historical fiction verse novel besides my own fear of trying something new.

Like the pioneers that settled Nebraska well over a century ago, I will forge ahead, using their strength, resilience, and determination as my fuel.

Here I go!