Wednesday, September 12, 2012

eBook Avalanche

With the explosion of e-books and e-readers, free e-books are available just about anywhere on the Internet. I have downloaded 30 to 35 free e-books, some highly recommended, and have deleted almost all of them.  There are very few diamonds to be found in the avalanche of free, easily downloaded e-books. Many had not even been spell-checked.

From spelling errors, bad grammar, blatant plagiarism, unsupported assertions, and egotistical, self-indulgent mental wanderings, the spectrum of bad writing is well covered by the free downloads! More than a few self-proclaimed e-book authors and experts have spoiled the resource of free downloads for me, it will be a while before I bother downloading more of them.

Many supposedly non-fiction books are just plain nonsense, creations of someone's ability to simply type at a keyboard and hit the upload button without using any of the reference features of their word processor or the Internet. One non-fiction book I downloaded, and almost immediately erased, was supposedly chock full of hints about getting your e-book published. It was filled with assumptions and incorrect information, spelling errors that any word processor should have caught, and a naive assumption that everything the author wrote was cast in stone. I'm surprised the author actually had the e-book published especially if he followed his own recommendations.

On the fiction side of the free e-book world, every possible combination of unlikely, politically incorrect heroine or unwashed, distasteful, outcast hero has been exhausted. Fiction books seem to be in the same realm as comic books, which may actually be better written. If I read the phrases “special agent,” or “steal the formula” one more time, I'll put my Kindle on the shelf and go back to the classics.

Editors and publishers must be wondering what the literary world is coming to. In the free e-book world, mankind is always saved by some maverick/outcast/sociopath who doesn't follow the rules/laws/covenants of civilization, but is smarter/stronger/swifter and more resourceful/clever/ingenious than any government/religion/corporation on earth.

The protagonist agency/commission/office is always sinister/incompetent/inept in some way that the unlikely hero/heroine always masters because his/her dad/mother was a scientist/genius/prisoner who inspired his/her offspring to rise above the elitist/plebeian masses, and in the process, endowed them with the luck of a cat with nine lives. I like to strike out every third word from the main character's dialog just to make the book interesting. Sometimes, though, I find it really doesn't make much difference.

Almost all literary best-sellers are available from as e-books from reputable on-line vendors for a fee, although sometimes at quite exorbitant prices. One recent best-seller cost more for the e-book than the print version! The often unrealistically high prices asked by some authors or publishers for e-books may actually be the key to the popularity of the free downloads.

There are many old classics out there for those who want only free e-books. Even Strunk and White's Elements of Style is available. Well, obviously that one doesn't get downloaded often. At least, not often enough by the most writers of the free e-books.

1 comment:

  1. Hi George! I see it took you no time at all to recognize the issues with self publishing. As you've said, one of the biggest problems in in the errors that could easily be fixed by a decent editor (sometimes, simply by utilizing spellcheck on their own computers). Based on my interactions with self published authors I'm confident in saying that they're aware of the problem. In fact, most of them are willing to put forth the expense to employ the use of beta readers or editors. Of course this means that self published authors are less likely to offer their books for free as there is now more of a cost associated with putting out their book (especially if they're smart enough to employ a typesetter and a cover designer, not to mention a website and blog designer, though there are a few inexpensive DIY options for that).

    As for your statement about the cost of ebooks, I've been reading a few articles surrounding the "whys" that you may find interesting. Here are the links:,,


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