Sunday, April 19, 2015

Adventures in Being a Professional Reader, Part II

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If it’s not obvious, I ‘m a true book addict. While I can, and have, sold or donated thousands of books over the years, I can’t say no to an interesting blurb, I’m drawn to a pretty cover.  So I was thankful to find Netgalley, and their ebooks for review. That’s good, right? The books pile up in virtual reality, not your floor. Good for the budget, too, right? Well, that’s where the rose-colored glasses need a wash. I’m incapable of not requesting a book that catches my interest. But you don’t get all the books you request, especially in the beginning. And then you’re getting more books, and more books catch your interest (you buy them) and you find new authors, and it’s actually pretty wonderful—if it weren’t for two things: digital books give me migraines—and now I’m reading to review deadlines. Not free to go back and read all the Belisarius novels, for instance, or investigate Pastrix:
The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, or catch up on the series, plural, that I’ve been reading for twenty years and I don’t request because I’m buying them anyway. There’s good and bad in everything, I guess.

I am grateful for Netgalley and all the publishers and publicists and reps I’ve met (virtually) because of them, but after two years, I understand the blogger who walked away. I have 400 ebooks and out of the 4K in my house about 400 I haven’t read. That’s 800 books on my to-read shelf. That’s 800 days of books for a fast reader like me, more than two years worth of reading. And I’m diminishing, not exaggerating the numbers. So it’s hard to justify the 20 books I have on pre-order—but believe me, I can justify!

Essentially, though, you pay for the books with a review. You do not have to publish a good review, but you need to turn one in. You are sometimes dealing with indie authors, sometimes with publishers, sometimes with publicity firms. You must put your reactions into words and pass them on. This is different than the simple process of assigning stars, 1-5. It requires thought and care. It takes time away from reading. The books pile up. 

I’m being more careful about my requests, but I’m not giving up Netgalley. I look forward to catching up on my own quirky reading paths, but I’ve found wonderful new paths as well. The glorious thing about a reading life is that, even if you read a book a day, you’ll never deplete that TBR pile!