This post is inspired by a real story I heard from another published author today (whose name I shall not mention).
A reader once sent her an email with a bill from a computer repair company. She was looking for the author to pay the cost for damage to her machine received after she downloaded a pirated copy of the author's book from a dodgy website... and of course, picked up a virus as a bonus.
Now: first off, I'm going to admit to all of you that I am far from an absolutist on pirating. I know it's wrong. I don't like doing it. But did I once use Popcorn Time to watch Game of Thrones?
I can also sympathize with the dilemma of a voracious reading appetite and a tiny budget. As a mom with two kids in daycare, I'm not exactly flush with book-buying dollars.
How do I cope? Thankfully, there's a national infrastructure in the United States (and many other countries) devoted entirely to letting me read for free.
It's called "the library". As it happens, I am a master of Advanced Library Technique, and am willing to share some of my top secret tips with you, my lovely readers.
- If your library already carries The Smoke Hunter (or whatever other book you have your eye on), but someone else always seems to have it out, ask your librarian to "put a hold" on it. This puts your name on a waiting list. When the book comes in, you get a phone call or an email to tell you it's waiting for you. How's that for service?
- If your library doesn't carry The Smoke Hunter, you can ask for the book through interlibrary loan. Most libraries are part of networks that share books with each other, either totally for free or for a nominal fee to cover the cost of shipping. It can take a couple of weeks to reach you, but keep yourself busy with something on the New Arrivals shelf and you'll have it in your hungry hands before you know it.
- You might also consider asking your librarian to purchase The Smoke Hunter. That's right: sometimes libraries will buy books just because you want to read them. This is usually as easy as chatting with your librarian or filling out a request form.
- Are you disabled, and therefore have trouble getting to your library? Many libraries offer delivery service, either in person or by mail, for disabled patrons--and those that don't have the service officially will often find a way to make arrangements for you anyway. Call your library, explain your situation, and ask them if they can help you out.
- If you've got a really terrible reading addiction, and you like ebooks, you might consider signing up for a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited or Scribd. That way, for the cost of the one book a month, you get access to hundreds of thousands of others you can devour. Note: as far as I'm aware, The Smoke Hunter isn't available on these services yet. But when it is, I'll update this post and let you all know.
- Finally, if you're willing to spend a little money, you can get a copy of The Smoke Hunter all to yourself so you can read it over and over again and loan it to all your friends (and of course, you'll want to do all those things). How, you ask? Buy it used. At the time I'm publishing this post, there are used copies on Amazon and Alibris for about $1 plus shipping. That's less than the cost of a Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino.
Best of all, every single one of those options comes without the risk of installing dodgy Russian malware on your computer or e-reader.
Happy reading, loves.