Beware of booksellers bearing gifts. has introduced many novelties with the Kindle, which I recently acquired. Among them, the free books. Yes, free books. And not just old works with an expired copyright that are the beneficiaries of some economically irrational conversion labor on the part of some happy geek somewhere. Oh no. Commercial books, books by living authors. Some operate on the crack dealer model of bookselling: you’re given the first one for free, and then suckered into purchasing the rest of the series.

And I have been caught by one of these. I’m on book four out of — how many? Eight? Nine? Something ghastly like that. That free book has cost me twenty-some dollars in follow-up books so far. And it has cost me hours of sleep, as the books are written in an obnoxiously compelling way: they’re not good, exactly. But the protagonist is, well, a total bleedin’ idiot. He spends most of his time alienating his friends and screwing up the local politics (naturally, he’s politically important, supernaturally powerful, etc.). One is forced to read on to figure out how the dimwit is going to wriggle his way out of the latest set of moronic decisions. The crack dealer model of bookselling is matched by the train wreck/”spectator slowing” model of reader retention.

Worst of all is that it’s all in first person. The reader knows nothing the protagonist doesn’t know, yet the protagonist can’t see the things that are patently obvious to the reader. So one finds oneself screaming inside one’s head “you fucking moron, do X to Y and it’ll all be ok!” But he never does. He never does.

I shall not reveal the name of this series of novels or its author. Because then at least some of my poor innocent readers, thinking themselves stronger than I, will explore those novels for themselves. And I wish to spare you my fate. Turn back, my brave ducklings. Turn back from the abyss.


3 Responses to “Beware of booksellers bearing gifts.”

  1. ellen Says:

    paul also hates children and most dogs.

    i have no idea where that come from. nothing to do with the post. just had to do it.

    ps — kitten adoption is so happening!

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Right in front of med wraps, not five minutes after I left you, I was snarled at by a gigantic frothing hellbeast of a dog in a car as I walked by! I hadn’t even seen it… rather startling. I think I amused the passerby by yelping in terror and leaping out of the way.

    Insult to injury: Cerberus’s big brother was in a Prius.

    But you should read my blog’s greatest hits on children. Like this post, which is my favorite. And this one.

    Kittens, on the other hand, I love. And I’m not only cheering for your getting kittens because that makes it possible that I may be permitted to play with them. I swear.

  3. Pony Says:

    Damn, now I’m curious. I wanna know what series it is! (I’ve probably read it/own it. That’s what usually happens to me.)

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