Tuesday, April 26, 2022

You Can't Write Well if You Don't Read

 "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."

--Stephen King

I wish there were a way to place that thought in the mind of every three-year-old. It's a time before the instant gratification of online and other digital games replace the love of stories to be savored. 

When adults or older siblings read to them, younger kids learn words -- stories -- go beyond the confines of their home and can be shared. I've never met a young child who didn't enjoy being read to. 

All of this leads to the ability to think about the world around them and someday helps foment critical thinking. It can start early -- watch a child's face as they try to figure out how to unlock a door or place blocks on top of each other. Eventually they find out that if they put the big blocks on the bottom, blocks can be stacked.

We don't all have to write fiction, but we have to convey our ideas whether we paint houses, build medical devices, or play the guitar. The key to doing any of this well is reading.

I have little time for pleasure reading now, so I play audiobooks in the car. I'm just getting into using earbuds to listen to books via apps on my phone.  

I feel sorry for people who don't care whether they find ways to discover new books. They won't learn to write well. And if they can't do that, it will be hard to succeed (defined in whatever way feels right) in any endeavor.

Every time you hear a child dismiss the idea of reading, ask them what they'll do if the power is out for a few days. If they have books, they'll never be bored.

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To learn more about Elaine, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Subscription Services and Libraries Can Save Money for Readers

 Everyone is trying to squeeze an extra quarter from a dollar these days. For me that means nearly all books have to come from the library or the used books in my library's small cafe-bookstore. I make exceptions for reading for my book club (if I can't get a book another way) and books of close friends.

Someone may say, "But why don't you want the new book by [insert name such as Tess Gerritsen, James Patterson, Daniel Silva, or Carolyn Haines). I do want them. But do I need them right this minute? Probably not.

In fact, some terrific authors make their ebooks available through subscriptions services such as Kindle Unlimited or Scribd. For a fee of $9.99 (Kindle) or $11.99 (Scribd) a reader has access to millions of books at no added charge. 

The sign-up and selection processes are simple. Scribd includes audiobooks.

These services have fees, but the ebooks borrowed from your library are free -- for the cost of a (free) library card. Local librarians can guide you through their processes. For background information, head to Overdrive, one of the best-known services. 

Libraries have access to some of the more popular authors who don't place books on commercial services. As with paper copies, libraries have a certain number of each ebook or audiobook, so you may encounter a waiting list. Isn't that better than paying $28.99 for a paper copy?

Subscription or library services don't keep income from authors. For example, Kindle Unlimited (KU) pays authors by pages read. Via Smashwords, my books are available through Overdrive and Scribd and I'm paid monthly.

I keep certain box sets and a few other books on KU, and all my books can be borrowed via Scribd and Overdrive.

Mostly, I read audiobooks. I have to be in the car at least 45 minutes per day, and that's a lot of reading. I save money by borrowing library CD books or getting ebooks via CHIRP, which always has a few for $1.99 and $2.99.

You may be saying, "But what if I want books not available through a service." You can buy them or go to the library. The big question, for me, is "How many books can you read in a year?" I bet the various bargain or free services can keep you in books for a lifetime.

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To learn more about Elaine, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.