In the days prior to my Kindle, it seemed like it was much easier to find books I liked. I attended a university in downtown Columbus, OH. I commuted every day and worked a job as well. (Maybe finding suitable reading material during this time of my life was easier because I had no time…??) These are the techniques are remember using to try and find interesting books:
- I was willing to try. If it was the cover or the author or the topic or a recommendation. I was willing to try a “free” book at the library. During my college days, I would walk to the main branch of the public library. I would try and get lost in the stacks of books. They had a section for Science Fiction in both the paperback and hard cover books. (I don’t remember there being a “Fantasy” section in those days. Maybe most of the “good” fantasy had not been written yet. Regardless, this seems to be where I find the most reading success today.) I would walk out with a stack of books. If I didn’t like them, it was easy to return them. And, the sheer volume of books available gave me confidence my persistence would pay off.
- I do still buy books. This technique is not always good either. I would go into the fantasy section at Half Price books and make decisions on books based on the number of pages purchased per penny or dollar or whatever. I did not necessary go in and say, “I love this author. I must buy more books from them.” I would think, “This book is 700 pages, and only $2.99. I am getting over 2 pages per penny.” (No, it doesn’t make much sense, but my goal from a young age was to accumulate volume of books and not always quality. My thinking, with my wife’s blessing, has evolved toward quality books rather than the filling of shelf page–the next move will be easier!) My used book purchases is now a couple books or less a month.
Now, in the “kindle-age”, I have a couple of “favorite” ways to find books:
- Lit map website: This is a fantastic tool. If you like an author, you type in their name. You click “enter”, and see what authors appear close by to your author. I presently really enjoy reading Brandon Sanderson. The Lit Map below is on him. And, I have read a few of the authors close by as well as a few to the right (in the image) of him. It certainly is worth considering this tool
- Amazon Reviews: These are many cautions here. Many books I have read are 4+ stars. A quick read of the first few pages will make one wonder who the reviewers really are–I suspect members of the authors family or someone else that the author has the ability to influence and/or threaten. Instead of reading the highest reviews, I often read the 1-Star reviews. Some of the these reviewers seem to have a personal vendetta against the author or author’s topic. If this information is weighed in with any personal experience you may have on the author, it still should help you to determine if the book could be for you. (Some people give reviews after liking the book but disliking something about the Kindle formatting. If this is the reason for a low rating, it can be somewhat dismissed. This is especially true if the review is older and there has been time to improve/update the formatting issue.)
- If you don’t trust the lit map, you can read books that your author recommends. As an example, I am a follower of Brandon Sanderson’s Facebook page. He will post things frequently on what he is reading or what authors he likes are writing. This method is not full-proof, but it has helped me expand my books to consider.
- My local library does offer Kindle books. Before I download, I will check reviews on Amazon to see how they rank. (Using some of the logic described above.) And, if I download a loser, I can always return it and try a new one.
- Lastly, I sometimes troll through the list of free books in various categories at Amazon. And, if not the free books, the top sellers in my favorite categories. Sometimes authors are trying to make it look like their books are more popular than they really are. (They lower the price or give it away for free. When they raise the price back up, the book will still appear high on the list AND likely get some sales at the higher priced based simply on its present rank[the sales rank accumulates regardless of the price–it is copies of the book sold]—even if it was its rank while free/extra-cheap.)
I still have bought some duds, and even found a few treasures in the Facebook pages of sites making you aware of “free” or “discounted” Kindle books. If you are willing to work a little bit and allow for a few mistakes, you can make sure you and your Kindle spend plenty of time together.