Paul Meets Bernadette: Rosy Lamb
Literacy Milestone: Phonetic Spelling

On the Use of Kindle Samples for Screening Books

Since my daughter was born 5 1/2 years ago, I've become a very picky reader. My reading time is much more limited than it used to be, and I am much more tired than I used to be. If a book is not working for me, I will fall asleep while reading it (regardless of the time of day), thus cutting into my reading time even further. If I do not abandon such books, I know that I'll never get any reading done. [Occasionally I switch to audio format for a book that I do really want to read - I generally listen while exercising, and so the falling asleep thing is not much of a risk.]

One thing that has helped me to manage my reading recently has been the use of Kindle samples. For those not familiar, these are free samples that are available for most (all?) books sold on Amazon in Kindle format. They include some small percentage of the book, perhaps a chapter or two, depending on the book. I've found that the samples are long enough to give me a pretty good idea of whether or not a book will hold my interest.

So here's what I do. When I read about a book on a blog or in a magazine, if it's already published, then instead of adding the book to a wish list, I just send myself the sample. I usually have half dozen or so samples on my Kindle PaperWhite, and when I get a spare few minutes (e.g. while I'm blowdrying my hair) I'll look through them. If I get to the end of the sample wanting to continue, then I know that I want to read the full book. If not, it is (usually) off the list. 

At that point I may purchase the book from Amazon (as I did last with Jason Gay's Little Victories), download it from Audible, add it to a wish list, or, in some cases, accept a review copy from someone who has offered it. This practice has kept me from buying books that were not likely to work for me anyway, and helped (slightly) in cutting down on unread review titles. Of course this is only helpful for books that have been published. I still maintain a wish list for others. And I do also accept some review titles on NetGalley and send those to the Kindle. In that instance, I like that a publisher hasn't incurred the cost of sending me a physical book - it's easy for me to dip in and see if the book catches my interest or not. 

I still do sit down sometimes with a big stack of physical review copies, reading the first couple of chapters to decide which books to read next. But the electronic sampling has been helpful in allowing me to dip into books that catch my eye on the idlest of whims. I've had a lot of travel recently, and my PaperWhite has been an essential companion. I don't have the latest generation, but I still adore it. It's light enough to take everywhere, holds as many books as I could possibly want, allows me to change the font size easily, and is backlit. [On a recent trip, I used it as a gentle nightlight to avoid waking my husband and daughter when I rose early.] And I can sample many books, quickly and easily, allowing my picky reading self to become even pickier.  

Of course this Kindle sample method of triaging books is not for everyone. It does result in me purchasing more digital books that I would otherwise (and yes, of course that is the point - Amazon is a business). But for me, the benefits outweigh the costs.

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).