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Old 07-28-2019, 01:23 PM   #1
leebase
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The Value of Time

Recently I've tried reading a handful or two of Amazon publishing books. Military Sci-Fi and thrillers....two of my favorite genres. I've paid anywhere from $1 for a seven book series to $4.99. So far I have yet to be disappointed. Then again, I admit to being easily entertained.

However...I've been thinking about the value of these books verses the value of reading a book from James Patterson, Orson Scott Card, David Weber, Lee Child, John Ringo....the Mil Sci-Fi and Thriller writers I pay $14.99 a book for when I buy them "just released" (which I do for my favorite series).

The Amazon books really don't compare. They are an entertaining read when judged by themselves, but they are nowhere near the quality of the books from my favorite authors. Then again, they aren't priced at $14.99.

I don't read nearly as many books a year as many of you do. I'm typically in the 25 or so....this year I'm at 27 already due to reading so many of those Amazon books that are much shorter than my usual fare.

So the question in my mind...is...do I continue reading the cheap books, or do I find more from big name authors. Is my limitation money, or is it time?

For example, I just finished reading "Pushing Brilliance" by Tim Tigner. A really good read. If you like Ludlum you might well like Tigner. But no, compared head to head, any Ludlum book has been much better. Any Jason Bourne book. Any Tom Clancey (even the ones written by Mark Greeney). Any James Patterson. And yet I did enjoy the Tim Tigner book.

I also recently read my first Mitch Rapp book by Vince Flynn. Again, major publisher, top selling writer....same type of book, but much better than the Tim Tigner. IMHO.

I'm 54, still working and nowhere close to being retired. Money sometimes gets tight....but most the time I don't even notice a $14.99 purchase. For years I paid that monthly for my audible subscription. Now I have so many purchased that I killed my account until I read what I've already paid for.

I've been an avid reader (compared to society for sure, perhaps not so much compared here) my whole life. I'm caught up on all my favorite authors and favorite series. I've dabbled in the cheap books from Amazon and find them enjoyable.

But...given a finite life that has less time ahead than I've already lived...why read Tim Tigner when I haven't read all of the much better writers out there? I have plenty of David Baldacci that I haven't read, Jeffrey Deaver, Vince Flynn....others that sell so well, they can command the $14.99 new ebook price? Particularly their back list which isn't selling for $14.99 anyway.

And when I'm broke or money is tight, I already have about five years worth of these cheap Amazon author's books already purchased (I've been a sucker for emails and FB campaigns).

Last edited by leebase; 07-28-2019 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 07-28-2019, 01:33 PM   #2
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For my part, I'm going to continue dabbling in indies, because I've found books written by them that I've enjoyed more than many officially published books. But then, I don't have any favorite authors. I like to try new authors all the time. For people with a lot of favorite authors it makes sense to stick to those (assuming that they continue to write, of course).
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Old 07-28-2019, 03:33 PM   #3
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"Cheap" books pricing? The $1 or $2 books can be exploration costs of different genres or authors. Or just use the library for more adventure.

Then there are pricing of around $6 or $7 that are very good; e.g. Lois Bujold is a favorite author of mine & the latest Penric I bought yesterday is $4. As an exploration, tho, I got interested in Honor Raconteur her books are at $7.

It is a guessing game as I try to buy books that I will reread, but it still a trial & error but the cheap books availability do help.
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Old 07-28-2019, 03:51 PM   #4
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I don't disagree with you, crane3. I've bought may good books from Baen and they used to be $5....but they were the same kind of quality that I look for. These Amazon Indie authors (are they really Indie if Amazon is behind them, marketing for them?) are NOT in the same league. Even, admittedly, I have enjoyed them.

It's like they stick to the meat of a story. They aren't bringing in 10 plot lines and weaving them together into an amazing finale. They aren't going into detail over the weapons specs of the tactics. They aren't throwing in military history vignettes/lectures.

Now maybe it's just the dozen or so that I've read and I'm wrong to extrapolate.

However, I'm coming to the conclusion that the big publishers or the specialty publishers like Baen.....just to a much better job at vetting the stories or picking the best writers.

Amazon is doing a good job at marketing to genre readers like myself. These books are definitely in my sweet spot....which is probably why I've enjoyed them.
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Old 07-28-2019, 07:38 PM   #5
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I don't disagree with you, crane3. I've bought may good books from Baen and they used to be $5....but they were the same kind of quality that I look for. These Amazon Indie authors (are they really Indie if Amazon is behind them, marketing for them?) are NOT in the same league. Even, admittedly, I have enjoyed them.

It's like they stick to the meat of a story. They aren't bringing in 10 plot lines and weaving them together into an amazing finale. They aren't going into detail over the weapons specs of the tactics. They aren't throwing in military history vignettes/lectures.

Now maybe it's just the dozen or so that I've read and I'm wrong to extrapolate.

However, I'm coming to the conclusion that the big publishers or the specialty publishers like Baen.....just to a much better job at vetting the stories or picking the best writers.

Amazon is doing a good job at marketing to genre readers like myself. These books are definitely in my sweet spot....which is probably why I've enjoyed them.
I tend to judge books on do I re-read the book or not. I will agree with you that most cheap indie books don't make that cut. I read them once, enjoy them, but don't feel a particular desire to re-read the book. On the other hand, I have several indie authors who do make the cut.

I will say that the majority of authors, both big name publisher and indie don't make the cut and the majority of authors who make the cut are with big name publishers. Some of that is that big name publishers tend to provide the extra polishing that most authors need. Some is that publishers provided the vetting. But I think that some is that the Indie movement simply hasn't been around long enough.

In general, the craft of story telling is what gets me to re-read a book rather than the plot. It's the journey, not the destination.
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Old 07-28-2019, 08:28 PM   #6
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I happen to be reading a book called "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli, so this topic caught my eye. It's good but I don't know if I'll be re-reading it. Might not have the time.-) I don't re-read many books. Too many new ones to read.
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Old 07-28-2019, 11:51 PM   #7
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I know I am going to go through a lot of books in each year and I am also a naturally frugal guy, so I have a system to help achieve both goals. Actually several systems because I am always changing.

I like to mark up books. Marker, highlighter and sticky labels. I do this when I see something I might use in my own endeavors.

If the book is marked up a lot, I know I will probably keep it at least for a while (year or two). If a little marking, then I may "copy" a page or two with my neat Mouse Copier gadget. Others, I may not finish. Besides the first group I donate if old and sell if fairly new.

I sell them where i buy used books -at Amazon. I usually donate to Goodwill or a local Church Thrift store.
I buy a lot of used books at Amazon and dollar type book stores plus of course the periodic book sale.

All this allows me to find good ideas and to refresh my mind as to what is happening out there.

I have found absolutely horrible books that had ideas that were gems. Probably the author got them from someone else, but good ideas are like a good piece of wood or steel and can be reused over and over. Just a slight tweak is needed usually.

Lately, I have one book case with books I am going through and a second with marked books I am going to keep a while. Also in the basement are bins of my old loves. Books, mostly paperback, I read in grade school, college and before eReaders. I have culled those bins a dozen times, and am gradually reducing them, but my first Jack Vance, Edgar Rice B, R Kipling, Tolkien, Robert Jordan, et al, I just can't let go.

Yeah some of those bins are a little musty, and when I go through them I put on a dust mask and might have to take a decongestant, but as I tell my wife, it makes me feel good to commune with the giants.

And I have a good BIG dehumidifier.

Last edited by frahse; 07-28-2019 at 11:55 PM. Reason: added
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Old 07-29-2019, 05:48 AM   #8
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For me, it depends on how I'm feeling at the time, often based on how tired I am.

If I'm feeling good, I want to read a really good book, I enjoy the book I'm reading, and I can focus enough to get the most out of it.
If I'm feeling tired, I just want to read something, I enjoy the process of reading, I just want to be carried along. It can't be complete tosh, but it doesn't have to be great, or mentally challenging.

Amazon produces a constant stream of books on sale for < $2 that satisfy the second need.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by leebase View Post
I don't read nearly as many books a year as many of you do. I'm typically in the 25 or so....this year I'm at 27 already due to reading so many of those Amazon books that are much shorter than my usual fare.

So the question in my mind...is...do I continue reading the cheap books, or do I find more from big name authors. Is my limitation money, or is it time?
It doesn't matter whether the authors are big names, or (within reason) what the price is. Your limitation is time.

Read the books that you enjoy reading the most.

Don't read books just because you've bought them.
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:28 AM   #10
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It doesn't matter whether the authors are big names, or (within reason) what the price is. Your limitation is time.

Read the books that you enjoy reading the most.

Don't read books just because you've bought them.
That's what got me thinking. It started with how to rate the books. I enjoyed the book....and would give it 5 stars...but then I'd think...well, if Ender's Game or Dune was a 5 start book....would THIS book get 5 stars?

That led to....even if these books are enjoyable to read....do I really want to read them or the books that are significantly better?

Keeping in mind that I'm a genre reader. I like my Sci-Fi (of many forms), my spy thrillers, historical fiction, some legal thrillers. I love series. I love books with familiar universe or characters.

So...when I'm out of books from my favorite authors....do I continue to explore these Amazon authors....or just start reading the Mitch Rapp books where there's 15 already written?

And I'm coming to the conclusion that....life is too short to read "merely entertaining" books when better are available
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by murraypaul View Post
For me, it depends on how I'm feeling at the time, often based on how tired I am.

If I'm feeling good, I want to read a really good book, I enjoy the book I'm reading, and I can focus enough to get the most out of it.
If I'm feeling tired, I just want to read something, I enjoy the process of reading, I just want to be carried along. It can't be complete tosh, but it doesn't have to be great, or mentally challenging.

Amazon produces a constant stream of books on sale for < $2 that satisfy the second need.
Good points. I have to be in a particular mood to read some of the better sci-fi books like those by Neil Stephenson. I have to have time to read through because you can't just read here and there for that type of book
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:02 AM   #12
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IMHO reading (fiction) by price is just snobbery
Books, like Wine, come in all grades. Sometimes you find one of those to over on the $2 table. (and sometimes the $$$$ one is only good to )

Being retired and like some others, I lean towards frugal. For the last few years, Indies have been getting my custom more than others with long feed troughs to $upport.
Unlike Academic/reference purchases, it is the Stories ENTERTAINMENT VALUE that is important. Not price.

What mars a bunch of Indies work, are editorial flaws that jar my reading experience, not the tale:

Most common: Homophones (words that sound alike).
Next would be contextual word/phrase choices (eg. Planet based thinking in space).
Technology flaws (spark plugs on a Diesel). JW Campbell school here:Explain WHY known (Earth based) science is being violated.
Annoying: Rampant 'Name Dropping (be it brand or personages) unless it is really needed to move the story forward.

I have been trying to quantify what makes a book 'most readable'.
Those are the ones that I tend read in a single sitting, tend to re-read (later). Many others, are just good enough to not abandon outright, but I read a 'Chapter' here-and-there until I reach the end.
Unfortunately it is NOT cut and dried: Author B is always, Author W never. I have to sample each one and see
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:22 AM   #13
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IMHO reading (fiction) by price is just snobbery
I hear you. And if I were using price as THE REASON I'm reading a particular book, it might be snobbery.

Here's what I'm wrestling with. It's not that I've tried reading Indy authors and find them terrible. The opposite, the one's I've read have been enjoyable. The question I wrestled with is "since there is only so much time, should I not spend it reading even BETTER books"?

While that may be an obvious "yes". The next question is....where am I LIKELY to find the better book. Surely, no one knows until you read a book for yourself what you'll think of it.

I'm finding these Amazon Unlimited type authors to be writing very entertaining genre books....but upon reflection, they are NOT nearly as good as the Ludlum's, Clancey's and others they compare themselves too.

But hey...it's only $1 for a entire series, or even $3-$5 for a single book. Quite a bargain.

So...do I read a "Jack Noble" book for $3.99 or a "Mitch Rapp" book (that the Jack Noble book compares itself too) for $8.99?

I'm thinking I might well stick to paying more for "likely better". I'm finding these Amazon Unlimited books enjoyable, but after dabbling for 6 months...I think I'm going to save them for when money is too tight for the better authors
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Old 07-29-2019, 02:07 PM   #14
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I personally will only read well known authors. As I get older I just don't have the time to read that much unknown stuff and of course not as many years left to read ...
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Old 07-29-2019, 02:35 PM   #15
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I read what interests me. Period. The value of my time and the price of admission rarely factor into my decision in that regard.
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