Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Hate You, eBook Previews!

I have a bone to pick with eBook previews.

I don't really read eBooks.  I prefer the good old fashioned books where you can keep your page, but skip a few pages ahead or behind without having to bookmark your page, tap the screen a few times, and then go back.  But this isn't about the merits of eBooks.

I buy most of my books online because 90% of the time the only book store anywhere close to where I live -- a big box bookstore -- doesn't carry what I want.  Because I can't go into a bookstore and have a "sample read" of most of the books I want, I rely on eBook previews to make decisions about what to buy.

Lately, though, I've downloaded a bunch of previews that only provide the table of contents, acknowledgements and dedications.  Everything else is locked.  And now, while I'm sure it's nice to know that a book was dedicated to Henry, Alison and Mooshy, and their baked goods, but it doesn't help me decide whether or not I like the writing, tone, cadence or subject matter of the book.

I mean, dammit, eBook publishers, it costs you almost nothing -- NOTHING! -- to publish an eBook.   Would it kill you to provide one chapter?  It's not like people are just going to keep reading that first chapter over and over again and never buy the book if they really like it.  The alternate scenario is that people won't buy books they might like because there is no preview.  Cuz it's not like you can return a book to Amazon.  (Can you?  Like what would you say?  "I'm returning this book because, based on a casual skimming of the book, I can tell that I won't feel anything but apathy toward the main character"?  What if you read the last chapter and didn't like the ending?  Is that a good reason to return a book?)

Anyways, my guess is that publishers don't think proper previews are necessary because there are enough people out there who buy books because Oprah told them to, regardless of the content of the book.  I mean even I bought stupid Villette because the Internets told me to.  (Though we all know that that ended in tears.)


You know what the worst thing about this is?  It's that the latest shitty previews I downloaded belong to books that even my local library doesn't carry.  But the story of how bad my library sucks is for another day.

Now I'm going to go back to Skippy Dies, a book I bought on a whim at the bookstore when a casual skim made me laugh out loud.

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