Monday, January 9, 2012

Preview's Sell E-books! (at least to me)

Sorry for the long hiatus but it's been an unusually busy holiday season. Hockey tournaments, Dad's 80th birthday celebrations (on New Year's Eve no less) and ongoing house reno madness has left me about six balls behind the 8th one. I must confess, though, that one of the things that led to my distraction from blogging was my hubby's birthday gift for me of the new Kobo Vox. It's sort of the Canadian version of the Kindle Fire - a tablet e-reader (that also allows me to surf the web since I can never get my hands on any of the computers at home!). It's fabulous. After I pried it away from my husband (seriously, I did not see it for the first six hours it was home) I was finally able to download my first e-book purchase.

I chose World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brooks for a number of reasons, one of them being my recent fascination with all things zombie due to The Walking Dead. But the biggie? The publisher let me read the first few pages. What, you ask? Isn't that standard e-book practice? Don't ALL e-books allow a potential buyer to get a taste of the book, an author's style, whether the beginning pages hook you or not? Surprisingly, NO.

I'm a big lover of sneak peeks. I love watching movie trailers for upcoming releases before the main movie begins. In fact, if we're late to a movie and miss the previews, it puts me in a grumpy enough mood for me to not enjoy the movie I actually came to watch. Those trailers hook me (or not) and are necessary (along with reviews) to help me make my decision about what movies I want to pay money to see in future. Same thing with books. When I browse for books from authors I have not read before I go through my process: Interesting title? Cover's cool? Blurb intrigues me? If all those are a yes, then I open the book and read a few pages. If it's all good then I usually buy.

When I was going through the Kobo library, I used the same process. Cover, title, blurb then I clicked on the Download Preview button. Then I went to my library where the book was sitting on my shelf, clicked on it and 9 times out of 10 I would get to read the first few pages. Well, I was deciding on whether to purchase World War Z and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. World War Z had it all and the writing was good so it was a no brainer. Click on Buy. With the second one, I already new Jonathan Safran Foer was a fabulous writer, my brother had spoken highly of the book, and I wanted to read the book before I saw the extremely well-reviewed movie. So you figure I should just buy it, right? Well, when I downloaded the preview and scrolled through the pages what I got were the first few pages of illustrations/pictures that were in the book but none of the actual writing. What the … ? No first five pages of writing, nothing. I know it probably didn't matter since the writer is who he is. But still. It irked me. I was denied the pleasure of browsing. I don't like to buy without browsing. No matter how many people tell me it's an amazing product. No click on Buy.

And it wasn't just that book. There were a few books from major publishing houses that gave me a preview of copyright and acknowledgement pages but stopped just before chapter one. I just don't get what they think they're accomplishing by doing that. Seriously. I don't buy the car without the test drive, people.

On a more positive note, I'm really enjoying World War Z and my Kobo Vox. And I'll probably go buy Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the old fashioned way - standing in the bookstore aisle, flipping through the pages and enjoying the preview.

How about you guys? Do you need the test drive when you buy an e-book or not?


  1. I either need a free test drive, or a sale price on the complete book (for an author I haven't read before).Reviews help, too. Enjoy your Kobo Vox!

  2. Hi Anne: Of course how could I forget price point. That's definitely a major factor on whether to buy an digital copy of a book or not.

  3. I always click the look inside feature on Amazon before I purchase an ebook. I love that we can do that.

  4. Hi Kelly: Yes, I've gotten used to that feature too. That's why I was so surprised when thatwhen I couldn't read a sample when I clicked on preview.