What I’m Reading: Indie vs. Legacy

So I was thinking about my reading habits due to a few discussions on various websites, and I realized something: for the past six months or so, I’ve been reading a ton of indie published books and books published by very small publishers, and very few legacy published books. In fact, most of the legacy published books I’ve read in the past six months were purchased a long time ago and have been sitting in my to-read pile for awhile.

Since I got my Nook Color back in the spring, I’ve read ebooks by Amanda Hocking (indie), Zoe Winters (indie), Lindsay Buroker (indie), Greta van der Rol (small press), Kimberly Menozzi (small press and indie), Poppet (small press), Calista Taylor (indie), and Randolph Lalonde (indie). Print books I’ve read this year only include Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series (which I started reading last year) and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. Oh, and some books I either picked up at places like Big Lots (when they’re $2 apiece for a hardcover), or books that have been shared among myself, my mother, and my grandmother (like John Grisham’s A Painted House).

But as far as the books I actually spend my own money on? Those are about 90% indies at this point. And there are a few reasons why:

  1. I can buy more books for the same amount of money. Even at the high end of the indie spectrum, I can buy two indie ebooks for the price of one legacy published ebook. On the low end of the indie price scale, it’s 10:1.
  2. A lot of indie authors give away free ebooks. I read the free ones, and then when I’m looking for something else to buy, I buy their paid books (as long as I liked the free ones).
  3. With free downloadable samples, I don’t worry about quality. If the downloaded sample has quality issues, I just don’t buy the book. And honestly, I’ve run into more poor formatting with legacy published books than I have with indie published ones. And by “poor formatting” I mean 18 pages of front matter so I only get to read 2 pages of actual content before the free sample runs out. And in very few cases is that enough to actually hook me into buying the book. Indie authors, on the other hand, generally only have 2-3 pages of front matter and then a solid 18-20 pages of actual book that I can base a purchasing decision on.
  4. I’m directly supporting authors. When I buy a $2.99 ebook from Amazon that’s been indie published, I know that the author is making over $2. When I buy a $9.99 ebook from Amazon that’s been legacy published, the author is getting what? $1? Maybe? And the publisher is getting the other $6. Sorry, I’d rather support the author directly. That’s not to say that the publisher isn’t adding value to the book, but I have yet to see where they’re adding 6X more value than the author…

Now, I realize that my reasons are not going to be the same as everyone else’s. And I honestly was kind of surprised that my reading habits had changed so drastically in so little time. Prior to ebooks, I’d never knowingly purchased a self-published book before. I’d read one rather poor example that my parents bought, but only because it was written by someone in my dad’s hometown and was a fictionalization of real events. So it was interesting from a personal standpoint (it even mentioned some of my family members—like we all didn’t know that “Ruby” in the book was actually Garnet in real life…), but it wasn’t a particularly good book and I wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for the personal connection.

But I’m reading some fantastic indie published fiction. At least as good as what the legacy publishers are putting out in the same genres, and often better. Any of the authors I mentioned above are well worth reading, and the best part is that you can generally pick up one of their books for less than the cost of a latte at Starbucks.

I’m curious, what are your reading habits? Do you read indie books often? Not at all? Have your buying habits changed in the past year or so?

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2 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: Indie vs. Legacy

  1. First, let me say “Thanks!” for putting me in such good company, here. :)

    I confess that I’m slow with the indie-press purchasing, mostly because I don’t have an e-reader and using the e-reader program on my computer isn’t terribly comfortable. Once I’ve managed to get an e-reader, that might well change.

    I still love my hard copies, though – be they paperback or hardcover, I still love going to the local international bookshops and having a good browse. I’m going to pay more, that’s true, but I love the feel of that book in my hand.

    In short, my reading habits haven’t changed much. But if/when I get an e-reader, with access to free and bargain-priced books, that will likely change, and quickly.

    Then again, the “traditional” publishers have their e-books priced so high, I’ll still go ahead and buy paperbacks. Might as well, since I’m getting free shipping from the UK. When they see sense, I’m sure I’ll look into getting a proper e-reader.

    You know, just to see what it’s like. 😉

    • Do you have a smartphone? I have a Droid X2, and it makes a fantastic e-reader. I use it more than my Nook Color now. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants a phone with e-reader capability. Something about the screen makes it incredibly visible even in direct sunlight. I can read outside even if the sun is shining on the screen (just like with epaper). Not something my Nook can really handle.

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