When I used to want to read a new book, back in the days of teenager-hood, I would often go to Walmart with my dad and talk him into buying me a book. These books were often Harlequin Desires (you know, the red ones!). I loved their short, sexy stories. Sometimes just how sexy things got surprised me. I still remember to this day reading my first blow job scene. Blew my mind, really. Nowadays, oral sex might be quite common in books, but for little ole’ me reading a HQ novel, I wasn’t expecting anything more than your typical loads of sexual tension and a good story.
Of course the great thing about Walmart books is they’re cheap. I still remember picking up my first JR Ward novel there–long before she was a bestselling author and household name for paranormal romance lovers. Dark Lover was this eye-catching red cover sitting on the BOTTOM SHELF with a price marked-down sticker on it. Yeah, try to find that at a Walmart nowadays! I, being paranormally inclined, with a love for Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton (met her once at a book signing where she signed a knife for me), was naturally intrigued by the story of Wrath and Beth. I bought it and devoured it. And re-read it. Again and again. I’d never read anything like that. It was so good. The early pages of that paperback copy have long since fallen out of the book. Last I checked, they were crammed inside the book.
Overall, I’ve had positive experiences buying books at Walmart. It was better, in ways, compared to Borders (how I miss them and their Seattle’s Best Coffee!) or Barnes & Noble, which was always more expensive.
Then, I went off to college. Books were my only escape, but I had no money to buy any and no car to take me to the library far across the city to check out a romance. The university library certainly didn’t have a single romance book in their academic library. Much to my complete disappointment. So, I would re-read books I already owned, but as anyone can tell you, that gets tiresome after awhile. You crave that new book, that new series or writer that will keep you up late at night devouring pages like it’s crack cocaine! So I began writing my own stories (of course, that’s a whole other story) in the meantime.
It was while sitting in my dorm with a roommate that wouldn’t talk to me, lonely and depressed being away from home, friends, without a car or a job that I found Ellora’s Cave. I’m going to take a moment to say that I’ll be ignoring the stories surrounding EC, which are disappointing, to say the least. Instead, I’m going to focus on my positive experiences around EC–the first ebooks I ever read.
Not only were they the first eBooks I ever read, they were also the first erotic romance and erotica stories I ever read. And they were so, so, soooo good. Like really good.
Some authors I found there, which to this day, inspire me and are among my favorite authors in the whole-wide world are: Nathalie Gray (hence where I took my pen name from! ‘Grey’ is much closer to my maiden name and at the time there weren’t any other ‘Grey’s’ out there. Don’t even get my started on how many there are now!), Michelle M. Pillow (READ HER BOOKS! NOW!), Lorie O’Claire (the best shifter books I’ve read in my entire life), or Lisa Marie Rice (who’s Midnight Man has one of the most erotic heroes I’ve ever read, not to mention one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. Period.)
These authors kept me up late at night, spending dollar after dollar that I did not have! Remember, I had no job, not for lack of trying, mind you; so I had to call mommy (who’s not exactly well-off) and beg “please, can I get another EC book?” My poor mom…but these books were SO good I couldn’t stop reading and it was my only escape from loneliness and my only way to read anything new that wasn’t already on my bookshelf.
Ellora’s Cave were my first ebooks. This was an age before tablets and e-readers or the Kindle App or Nook App. The only way to read these books was to be emailed a PDF, LIT or EPUB version of the story, then it was up to you to open your Adobe PDF reader or some program to read the book. You had a limited timeline to download the book, after which the link would die and you couldn’t get refunded! And you could only read the ebooks on your computers! I would take my laptop into the bathroom with me while I took baths to read. Talk about steamy bubble baths. Who remembers the days pre-Kindle like this?
Nowadays, when I want to find a new book, author, or series to get lost in, things are more difficult. Maybe it’s the saturation of so many books on the market, or difficulty navigating at places like Amazon, but I found that I predominantly shop books by subscriptions I’m a part of. Places such as BookBub, ReadFreely, BargainBooksy, Red Feather Romance, OHFB, Digital Book Today, KND, eBookSoda and so on.
When I’m ready for a new book, I open the latest emails from these websites to browse books. They’re not all new releases–I don’t mind. They’re not always discounted by time I find the book–I don’t care. I’ll pay full price. But these newsletter and email signups make up about 95% of books I purchase. I make it into a bookstore maybe once a year and that’s often to make a gift purchase. Besides, there’s absolutely no time anymore to read a paperback with this little guy squawking!
I guess this blog was a long-winded piece intending to ask: How do you browse and buy books? Let me know!