ereading on the cheapEvery week, I read at least one article on how cheap ebooks are these days, and it always startles me. It seems that whenever I hear about a book I want to read, I go to look it up and it’s well over $10. The latest wish list book came after I started reading an unread purchase from last year, decided I liked it and went looking for other titles by the author. I found one which looked fabulous, and it was going for $12.60 in paperback or $14.32 in the Kindle—and this wasn’t a hot new release either, but a mid-list thriller from 1999!

So, what’s my problem? Why are the books I want so expensive and yet everyone else seems thrilled at how cheap their book habit is? I finally figured it out when I read this story from Digital Book World, fresh from today’s Morning Links. It begins thusly:

“Readers who waited until December to load up on the year’s hottest books were wise to do so.”

So, that’s the secret to ereading on the cheap right there: it’s about reading what’s on sale. If you go into your reading year with a list of specific titles in mind (wishlisting them, as I do, and checking from time to time to see where they are at) you probably won’t save much money. I tend to get my hot new best-sellers from the library, so the books I wishlist tend to be stuff like the one I added this week—an obscure and not very famous thriller from a fairly anonymous author who is just big enough to be with a mainstream publisher who will forget about her and keep the price of her book high.

If you want to save money, you can’t buy books from authors like her. Fixating on a specific title is the kiss of death for saving money! What you have to do is find some reliable discount sources and see what comes your way. There was a book in today’s Kindle Daily Deal which caught my eye. I was not particularly yearning to read it. I had heard of it, I think, from some vaguely remembered review, and it sounded okay. And it was $1.99. I didn’t wind up pulling the trigger because I have such a huge backlist of unread books right now that I’m not buying non-essential new stuff until I get my to-read pile down to a manageable level. But in a future time, where I am more in a buying mood, this is exactly the sort of purchase I would likely make, and I’d save money.

Reading-by-sale might even have some advantages. There are books which have come my way through deal-of-the-day sales that I might not otherwise have picked. I probably would enjoy the one I saw today. Maybe I didn’t wake up this morning wishing for it and intending to buy it, but now that’s come under my radar, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. If I didn’t have such a huge backlog of wanted books to get through first, I really might have done it. But the catch is that if this particular book didn’t come my way, I’d have to be okay with reading another one.

If you choose books by, for example, ‘show-rooming’—i.e. you see it at your local store and then go online to try and find it—you might not find ebooks to be such an affordable hobby. But if you are flexible in your wishlist and content to just wait and see what comes your way, you would probably be scratching your head when you see people like me complaining about how high the pricing is.