Would You Take a Book Because It’s Free? Why or Why Not?

What does it say about us, as readers, or about books, that we would turn away free books? Are there too many free books?


Obviously, if you’re offered a book you’d not read because it’s not a genre you like or theme you care for, you might not take it because books take up a lot of room or weigh you down if you’re walking around with them.  I’ve attended BEA for years and am offered more books that you can imagine, all for free.  Some of them I take, some I do not.  Why?

Well, I have to ship them home or carry them in my suitcase so the weight issue is relevant.  Even sending books media mail means I have to find the time to package the books, get to the post office, spend some money and then time unpacking it once it gets home.  So, I’m picky about what I take.  I will take only books I read or books I know a friend or loved one will read.  I take pretty much all romance and thriller books.  I have a LOT of readers in my family who read those genres, but I’ll take a good non-fiction book, horror even inspirational and turn those into gifts.


But, what makes me rule out certain books?  What books are not on my “worth the trouble of mailing them” list? We’ll get to that in a moment.

What about free ebooks? Why turn them down?

For me, my time is valuable.  Just as valuable, or even more so, than money.  So I don’t want to spend my time reading a bad book.  If the cover and blurb do not draw me in immediately, I will pass on a totally FREE book.

I subscribe to BookBub (https://www.bookbub.com/home/) and I highly recommend it to readers.  I get a daily digest of books offered at severe discounts or free, often by known authors, but by new ones as well.  This service is a great way to check out new authors and new series.  But, even then, I find I look specifically for those books that are FREE, though sometimes a book cover will draw me in and I’ll be willing to pay a couple of bucks if the blurb is good enough.  Otherwise, I review what’s free and determine if I want it.


Did you know you can get free ebooks on Amazon all the time? And that the list of free books changes?  Try it out.  Go to Amazon.com and in the search bar at the top type in “Free romance novels” then hit the search icon.  I look at the covers of these free books and I look at the name of the authors.  Today I see that Edie Ramer has a free book out called Heart 2 Heart which has two contemporary romance novels in one.  I knew that author so I’m excited to get it.  I’m careful to ensure the novel is free and not part of the KindleUnlimited plan since that will sign me up to pay a fee for a different set of “free books”.  Be sure you are careful there.  But you can search for ANY GENRE on Amazon and put in the word “Free” and find free books.

So why pass on a free book?  Whether it is a print book or ebook or even an audiobook?

For me, it goes back to not having enough time for so many books.  Another reason?  So many of these are total crap.  They are poorly edited, quickly written and a waste of time.  Authors may make them free for a limited time hoping to get people hooked on their other books in which they are charging money for them, I’m not sure.  So there’s an element of risk involved.  There is for free books and for books you pay for.  But, if I’m going to take a chance on a book just to find on page 25 the writing went to Hell and the hero’s actions make no sense, I get really frustrated.  I could have spent that time watching Jessica Jones on Netflix. And I’d rather spend it reading an author I know writes good stories.  Even if I have to pay $10 for that.  My time is worth $10.


I don’t know if having all of these free books available harms book sales.  Part of me thinks it may since people seem more apt to try free books than buy them and take chances they will be poorly edited or developed.  Part of me thinks that, the more crap books people read, the more they will appreciate a well written, well developed, well edited book and perhaps that will instill loyalty to those authors who go to the trouble to ensure their books have that.

And of course, for those books that are free and good, they can inspired reader loyalty and future book purchases and I do see that as a good thing.

What do you think of having the market saturated with so many free books?

About Sheila Clover English

International speaker, business woman, author, mother, wife and owner of seven dogs. I love people, am an advocate for animals and stay up too late at night reading books.
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4 Responses to Would You Take a Book Because It’s Free? Why or Why Not?

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Sheila,

    Definitely the market is saturated. Even good books are hard to find in the sheer mass of publications because I don’t have time to give them a chance. I know that if I came across some of my favorite books–like the first of the Belgariad–today, I’d drop them after the first page, and that makes me sad.

    • Sheila says:

      I am certain there are amazing books out there that I am missing out on just because it’s overwhelming looking through so many!
      I’ve learned to rely on the recommendations of friends.

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Sheila, thanks for mentioning my book! I do love free books, but like you, I’m busy, and I’m writing my own books and just don’t always have a lot of time to read. I do get BookBub, but still read a sample before I ‘buy’ a new free of low-priced book. Just as I do with any higher priced book (unless it’s a favorite author). Even then, I might end up not reading it. I returned library books yesterday that I still wanted to read, but knew I probably wouldn’t, even if I renewed the book for another four weeks. I almost have to love a book now to read it now. And I didn’t love those books.

    There are so many choices. Reading books now is like being in a buffet at a Chinese restaurant with a huge selection. You might try new things and you might like them along with the old, but your plate is so full, you can only eat so much. This is a wonderful time to be a reader.

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