Reader mail: Where can I read [your book] online for free?

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Oh, ew. Ew. I feel icky. I hate answering this question. But answer it I must.

First of all, thank you for wanting to read my books. Really. I realize that on this planet there are trampoline gyms and elephant rides and a whole host of other fun things you could be doing with your time, so I appreciate the fact that you wish to devote it to eyeballing my words. I am touched and humbled.

That said…

Authors and artists do what they love because they are passionate about creating the things that they love to create. Generally speaking, they do not do it for the money (of which, sorry to say, there is precious little for most). But artists still need money to live. Painters can’t use their artwork to put a roof over their heads; paintings are made of canvas and are bad at keeping the rain out. Authors can’t eat their books; I have tried and while they don’t taste half bad, they offer little in the way of nutritional value. In order to enable artists and authors to keep producing the things that their fans are hungry to consume, artists and authors need to make some bank.

Anytime you find one of my entire books online, it’s a safe bet that it has been put there illegally. For every person that reads it, there’s one book sale that I haven’t gotten. For every book sale that I do not get, I make a little bit less money. For every little bit of money I lose, the chances of me continuing to write for a living diminishes, along with the chances of you getting to read any more of my books. See how that works out badly for everyone? It’s like when Tinkerbell starts to die in Peter Pan. You must save her! You must believe in books! CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE IN BOOKS! CLAP LOUDER OR THE FAIRY DROPS DEAD! There, you did it. If we all clap, we all save the fairy. Look at her, flying around like a spaz. We did that.

All THAT said…

I understand that not everyone can afford to buy books all the time. And I would be a monster if I were to suggest that purchasing my books is the only way that I wish you to enjoy them. After all, I am an artist, and artists want people to enjoy their art more than anything. (Yes, even more than money.) Luckily, there are options:

  • You can get my books from a library. Libraries are THE BEST THING ON EARTH and my dirty secret is that I borrow books from libraries far more often than I buy them. If I can do it, you can do it.
  • But what if your library doesn’t have my books? You are in luck once again–librarians are super nice and helpful people who, if you ask nicely, will either order a copy or find one from another library or do anything in their power to help you read it.
  • Another library option, courtesy of commenter Bob Holt: “You don’t even need to GO to a physical library. Most libraries today circulate e-books via Overdrive or some other publisher-approved service, accessible online with just your library card. Yes, there is DRM, and you have to wait in line, and there are due dates, but the libraries provide this service to YOU for FREE while still allowing publishers (and hopefully authors) to receive some payment.”
  • Borrow my books from a friend. Go for it! Pass it around school like a sexy doodle of that hot new chemistry teacher.

So please keep all of these options in mind the next time you want to find my books (or any other authors’ books) for free online. We are not being greedy, money-hungry corporate monsters. We just want to keep writing what you want to keep reading! And not have millions of fairy fatalities on our collective conscience.

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4 comments

  1. Readers can also become book bloggers and once they have built up their blogs with well written/thoughtful reviews of dozens of books, then they can start to contact publishers and sites such as NetGalley to request books to review. Then they might get free books, but they are also providing a much needed service by freely posting their reviews for all the world to enjoy.

  2. And to expand on the library option:

    You don’t even need to GO to a physical library. Most libraries today circulate e-books via Overdrive or some other publisher-approved service, accessible online with just your library card. Yes, there is DRM, and you have to wait in line, and there are due dates, but the libraries provide this service to YOU for FREE while still allowing publishers (and hopefully authors) to receive some payment.

    I’ve for a fact seen Croak and Scorch on my friendly neighborhood library’s Overdrive offerings.

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