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Thursday, August 1, 2013

eBook Hoarders are Ruining The Game for Writers

For the past two years, I’ve offered free eBooks every weekend and free eBooks over the summer holiday. The main reason I offered titles every weekend was to help younger readers who couldn’t afford eBooks get access to reading materials so they wouldn't have summer brain drain when they went back-to-school.

I'm pondering ending those campaigns.

I’m learning that some customers aren’t actually reading the eBooks I offer. They’re just hoarding them because they are free. These are the kinds of people who troll the free lists for Kindle looking for free stuff, then download an eBook, read a chapter or two and then if they don’t like it, delete it.

Personally, I feel that’s abusing my work and the work of authors who use programs like KDP Select and Smashwords to reach new customers.  It’s the equivalent of going to a supermarket where they offer free samples, taking a bite out of one sample, throwing it in the trash, and then picking up another sample of the exact same product off the same plate, taking a bite out of it and then throwing it in the trash.The consumer is only taking something because it’s there, not because you want it or need it. They don’t value the product or the opportunity someone is offering you to try it. Consumers like this have no respect for the writer or their work.

People  are consuming eBooks for the sake of consumption, not because you want to discover a new writer and their work, but because they are there . I cannot and will not enable this dysfunctional behavior any longer. IMO Amazon really needs to put a limit on how many free eBooks people can download in a day.  A person who downloads 500 eBooks in one session is clearly abusing the system.

This same person who hoards free eBooks reads a chapter or two and deletes them, could take that same time and read those same two chapters in the preview section of Amazon, itunes, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Previews are enabled in every e-reader. That’s how you find out whether or not you like a book or not.

In addition to the eBook hoarders I’m running into a growing number of eBook customers with an entitled mindset. These people believe they deserve to have free eBooks. And they complain when books don’t meet their unrealistic standards they get upset.

These are the kinds of people who bitch and moan that a short story is too short. They’re the kinds of people who whine that they have to read a romance novel for a PLOT and CHARACTERS when they were looking for an erotica book filled with steamy sex scenes. And they’re the kind of adults who go out and download an Independent Reader or Young Adult book saying the characters were immature, not understanding the story was written for CHILDREN.

These are the kinds of people who write terse whiny one star reviews stating: “I’m glad I got it for free because I wouldn’t pay for it.”

What these spoiled people don’t understand is that an author like myself is offering them a free sample out of generosity. You don’t have to get it for free. You could pay full price.

Instead of being so GREEDY these people NEVER take a moment to look at things like the page length, file size, the genre of the story, or even the synopsis on the sale page. No, in their thirst to get something for free, they just click Buy now and never once think about what they’re buying or even why they’re buying it.

Let’s get something straight here: You are not entitled free eBooks. An author like myself has spent hours at the keyboard putting that book together. We spent more time editing it and designing the cover. And then we spend more time promoting that eBook to the masses.

Writers like myself work hard to get new readers who will value all the time and work we take to put books. Jokers like eBook hoarders and spoiled entitled readers suck the fun out of publishing and sharing our work. These are the kinds of assholes who make reading a chore and keep others from discovering an authors’ work with their troll one-star reviews and negative word-of-mouth. They don’t value books and they don’t value reading. All they want is a free ride.

Well the buck is stopping here at SJS DIRECT.  Unless it’s a holiday campaign like Black Friday or Christmas Day, Outside of a few select older titles,  I’m not offering any more free eBooks from my catalog. If readers want one of my new books, you will have to pay for it.

When people own something they tend to value it and take care of it.  But when they are given something they don’t take care of what they have.  In fact they destroy things and then they expect someone to give them more to replace what they destroyed. This is the entitlement mindset that’s infected the minds of two generations of people here in the South Bronx.  Thanks to 40 years of Welfare, and Section 8 people in my neighborhood don’t own anything.

And because they don’t own anything or value anything they don’t take care of their neighborhoods. If they break a security door by holding it open someone else will fix it. If they throw trash on the ground someone else will clean it up. The onus is never on the person to take responsibility for their actions, but on everyone else to do things for them.

That’s the kind of mindset I’m seeing it becoming a norm with eBook readers. If someone writes an eBook and I don’t like it I’ll just delete it and get another. Someone else is always publishing eBooks. All I have to do is wait for a free offer from them.  This kind of customer takes no responsibility or care for their consumption. The whole idea of downloading 300, 400 or 500 free eBooks every weekend just because you can do it is just ridiculous.  If those books were physical paperbacks and hardcovers would you take all those books in your house? Where would you store them? When would you even take the time to read them? That’s not getting books because you enjoy reading, that’s hoarding for the sake of hoarding.

I’ve downloaded free eBooks in the past on Smashwords. And before I would try these writers’ works, I’d make sure to read the genre, the word count and the synopsis.  I’d even read a sample. If what was in the sample didn’t grab me I moved on to the next book. If I was compelled by what I read in the sample, I gave it a download.

 And after I finished reading their eBook, I went back and gave that writer a review. I felt that this writer worked hard to get a product out and the least I could do for them is give them a review as a thank you to show my appreciation for their hard work.

I wanted to continue offering free eBooks to readers. I believed I was helping youngsters who didn’t have access to reading material. But seeing all this abuse of my products and the products of other authors has made me realize that it’s time to find a different  way to promote books. Maybe if people have to pay for an eBook they’ll value the reading experience provided to them.


  1. Good post. Found your blog because of your review of DC's misguided Identity Crisis. I have something that sort of relates to what you were talking about. Recently I published my first ebook on Amazon and Smashwords. I wanted to make the ebook free on both sites, as I'm a new author trying to build up an audience. There was no way to make the book free on Amazon, so I charged 99 cents. On Smashwords the entire book is free. The only thing I asked if people downloaded it free was to leave me a review. Nothing elaborate, just a simple review. 95 people have downloaded my ebook for free on Smashwords, and none have left me a review. So disheartening.

  2. I've been offering books using the same approach for years. And people will just download books and not read them. What I find is not to expect much regarding reviews with eBooks, for some books I've published I've never received a single review; and some will drop one-star reviews just...for no reason.

    You can't get disheartened this is how the eBook game runs. Your goal should be focusing on sales and building an audience. I've published close to 50 books and I've learned not to expect much from the audience. You just write what you like, publish what you like and eventually you'll find an audience of people who'll love your work.