Discounted Ebooks: A Review of Promotional Sites


Last month I described my marketing campaign for my novel, Playing the Game, and the ebook marketers I used. This post looks at ebook marketers from a reader’s point of view.

I follow several curators of free and discounted ebooks. Some are better than others, and which are best depends on what you as a reader want. My criteria for a good ebook discount site are

  • The price is easy to see.
  • I can limit the categories of books to only those I want to read (thriller, women’s fiction, etc.), and the category of each book is clearly shown. (Often, readers can guess the genre by the cover or title, but I want to be told, so I don’t waste my time on books that don’t interest me.)
  • I can see a short synopsis of the book.
  • The site has a pleasing visual interface.
  • I can see how other readers have rated the book.
  • There are links to all the buy sites where the ebook is available (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.), which is important to me because I use both a Nook and the Kindle app to read ebooks.
  • The site shows lots of free and discounted books in the genres I want.

Given these criteria, the best sites I follow are Ereader News Today and The Fussy Librarian.

Here, in alphabetical order, are my opinions on several sites that curate discounted and free ebooks. My comments relate to the daily emails that these sites send out, since these emails are the first impression that readers get on the ebooks featured by these promoters. Some of the sites also have Facebook pages and other ways of linking to the books they feature, but I prefer one email a day from each marketer, not constant posts throughout the day on Facebook or Twitter or other advertising.

Your preferences may be different than mine, so judge accordingly.

Bargain Booksy: This site lets readers sign up to get emails about books in Kindle, Nook, Apple, or other formats, but only one format of ebook, not all of them. The Bargain Booksy emails do not show multiple buy sites simultaneously. This site appears to only showcase discounted books, not free books, but the prices of the featured books are clear. The book categories are also shown, but it does not give ratings or a synopsis of the books it lists. I am not a fan of this visual interface, but others might like it.

BookBub:  BookBub is the granddaddy of ebook marketing sites, and claims to have more followers than any other sites. The prices they charge authors are comparably high. Readers can choose to receive emails that feature books for Kindle, for Nook, or for other formats, but readers cannot get links to all buy sites in a single email. It has a pleasingly clean visual interface, the prices are clear, the book categories are visible, and books are listed with a synopsis. However, the site does not show rating information.

BookGorilla: BookGorilla only features Kindle books. However, the price is clearly shown, the category of books visible, and the appearance is clean. BookGorilla shows brief synopses of featured books and other promotional text from the author. It does not show rating information, unless the author includes ratings in the write-up about the book.

Choosy Bookworm:  This site only features Kindle ebooks. It has a nice layout, and clearly shows a synopsis and the book prices and categories. It does not show ratings, and doesn’t promote as many ebooks as some of the other sites. My biggest complaint about Choosy Bookworm is that when you click on a book’s link in the daily email, it doesn’t take you to Amazon, but to the Choosy website, where you have to click again to get to Amazon to buy the book. The website does not give much more information than the email, so there is no reason for the website interface.

Digital Book Spot: This site features only Kindle ebooks. I don’t like the site, because there is a two-step process to get to Amazon to buy the books. First, I have to click on a link in the email to get the list of featured books. When I get to that list of books, I can see the price and a synopsis of each book, but no ratings or book categories are shown, so I have to click to the Amazon buy site to get more information about genre and ratings. Moreover, the site’s look is messy and interrupted by ads. The good news about this site is that it does promote a lot of books.

The EReader Cafe: This site only features Kindle ebooks. It has a good interface and provides a synopsis, but does not show book categories. It shows whether a book is free or a bargain, but doesn’t show the price of bargain books. It does not show book ratings. It, too, features many books each day.

Ereader News TodayThis site shows links to many buy sites, including Kindle (Amazon), Nook (Barnes & Noble), Apple, and others. The price and book category are easy to see, as are ratings and synopses of the books. I am not as fond of the appearance of this site as of Fussy Librarian and Riffle, but the information I want is all there.

The Fussy Librarian:  This site shows all buy sites where the books are available, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and others. It has a very nice visual layout, and clearly shows the prices, categories, and ratings of featured books. From a reader’s perspective, it is one of the best sites. However, this site seems to have fewer followers than some of the others listed in this post, so it doesn’t list as many books as some of the bigger promoters.

The Midlist: This site only lists a few books each day, and only Kindle ebooks. It has a decent visual interface and clearly identifies prices and includes a synopsis. However, it does not list book categories, nor does it show ratings of featured books.

OHFB: OHFB is short for “One Hundred Free Books.” I don’t know if it features 100 books each day, but it features a lot, and it is an eclectic mix of books, including classics. OHFB only lists Kindle books, but the prices and categories are clear, the visuals pleasing, and a synopsis included. It does not show ratings. However, the daily email only describes a few books. To get to the full listing of featured books, you have to click from the email to the OHFB website, and from there to Amazon.

Riffle Riffle is another site that features links to not only Amazon, but also Barnes & Noble, Apple, and other buy sites. It has a clean interface that clearly shows prices and categories, and also gives a synopsis. It does not show ratings.

I hope readers find this information helpful. I’m sure there are many more equally good ebook sites. But I follow enough already.

Readers, which are your favorite free and discount ebook sites?

* * * * *

Check out the latest review of my novel, Playing the Game, on Amazon:

“I was intrigued and hooked after only one chapter. A novel about a corporation that makes toys would not have been my first thought as a successful venue for suspense and crime drama, but . . . the author’s unique writing style . . . delivered on the suspense, and effective character development to boot. . . . Great job. I’m glad for the read, and for meeting a new author.”

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