Book hoarders – chances are we know someone who hoards books, or we “are” someone who hoards books. Some people just want to read ALL the things whether they realistically have the time or not. When it comes to physical paper books, book hoarders are often limited in their mania by space or money, but there’s a new type of book hoarder – the digital book hoarder.
Digital book hoarders aren’t limited by space, and usually, aren’t limited by money either. Ebooks don’t take up a ton of space on a hard drive so you can literally download thousands of ebooks and barely make a dent in your computer or tablet’s available storage. As far as money goes, some ebooks cost money, but it’s incredibly easy to score free ebooks all over the internet. There’s NetGalley, giveaways on GoodReads and Amazon, threads on Reddit that have free book promotions. You can find people giving away their books for free on Twitter, Tumbler, or Pinterest. There are free public domain ebooks on Gutenberg and FreeBooks.com. If you have an Amazon Prime account, you have access to thousands of free ebooks through the Kindle Unlimited. Smashwords has a sale section where people can list their books for free, and twice a year they have major sales with even more free books.
If you have a GoodReads account, you can create a list of all the books you’re currently reading, but also all the books you want to read. And some people’s “to-read” lists are INSANE! I’ve seen to-read lists with thousands and tens of thousands of books on them.
Basically, digital book hoarders will add anything that may even remotely catch their interest to their collection or their to-read list.
While there is nothing wrong with digital book hoarding and people who do this aren’t harming anyone, as a writer who tries to keep track of their sales and downloads, it makes understanding one’s stats damn near impossible. My book is on over 200 to-read lists on GoodReads, but pretty much almost every single one of those 200 people are digital book hoarders and realistically will probably never get around to reading my book.
Whenever I use the KDP promotion to give away free copies of my sci-fi novelette, I get dozens and dozens of downloads. Hundreds have downloaded the first book of my fantasy series from Smashwords and other free promotions, but is anyone actually reading my stories? Or are they just hoarding it into their collection because it was free? Unless people purchase the sequel or leave reviews, I have no way of knowing who’s actually reading and who’s just hoarding.
The problem with giving my work away for free so frequently is that a lot of people may download my books because they’re willing to scoop up any ol’ free book they find. I have almost no way of knowing if they’re ever actually going to read that book or if it’s just going to languish in digital storage somewhere for all eternity. I suppose book hoarders are the downside to my previous post about why it’s best to give away your books for free. People are more likely to read or prioritize reading something if they paid actual money for it because they want to ensure they get their money’s worth. A lot of readers place less value on books they scoop up for free because there are so many of them and nothing’s lost if they never get around to them.
So, how many digital books do you have in your hoard? How long is your to-read list? Or do you prefer to hoard physical books instead? If you’re a published author who gives away free ebooks, what percentage of those books do you think are read by those who download them?