Back when I was a Professional Organizer, usually the first thing I told my client was to pitch the organizing books – they were just taking up space and obviously not getting used. In today’s guest post Brad Leclerc of Cogniview looks at the clutter of ebooks. – Alex
Chances are pretty high that most of you answered “yes” to the first question, because really, who doesn’t like free ebooks, right? The second and third questions are the tricky bit. Some of you would skim through it, and a few would probably read the whole thing and make use of whatever tips or information it had to offer. The vast majority though, if statistics are to be trusted, would never bother reading it at all.
Notice I haven’t mentioned what this hypothetical ebook would be about. That’s because to a lot of people, it doesn’t seem to matter what the topic of an ebook is, or whether or not it would or wouldn’t be helpful or interesting to them before grabbing it up given the chance.
I tend to refer to that mentality as “PDF addiction”. The desire to acquire as many ebooks as possible, regardless of topic or personal usefulness. It’s such a common thing that there are always websites offering free ebooks to subscribers because they know that if nothing else, it will guarantee a pile of new subscribers JUST going for that ebook…whatever the topic. Some of the seedier marketers online actually count on people never reading an ebook they offer, and don’t take the time to put any effort into creating it in the first place, and just use it as subscriber bait.
That’s not to say that free ebooks aren’t useful, for their target audience they usually are, so long as it’s had some effort put into it, the issue is when people jump at the chance to get an ebook that they have no use for, or may not even read. Heck, the same is true of any type of book/movie/website/whatever…but I’ll stick with dealing with ebooks this time around, as they are far more commonly given away, or extremely cheap (though not always).
Ebooks can be a great source of information, but what use are they if you’re not going to actually read it and take action to use what you learn in your own life, whatever the topic?
This issue of downloading ebooks essentially to collect them, or just because they are available, doesn’t stop with free ebooks either. There are plenty of ebooks on sale, priced anywhere from a couple dollars, to hundreds. It is, however, far more likely that someone who paid for an ebook will actually read it, and if they find a useful tip, trick, idea, etc, take action to make use of it.
Psychologically this is pretty easy to understand. When you pay for something, you are less likely to want to think that you wasted the money, so you’re likely to read every last page, even if it’s far less useful to you than a free ebook that’s been siting in your download folder for weeks.
I don’t really think that has to be the case though, it just takes being a bit pickier about the sorts of ebooks you choose to spend your time (and maybe some money) on.
Before downloading any ebook, whether you have to buy it, or it’s being offered for free, you should always ask yourself “What am I hoping to get out of this?” and “Will I actually put this to good use?”. If you can think of at least one good reason that you have for reading it, and can make a promise to yourself to read it and take any needed action to put it’s potential advice to use IMMEDIATELY, then (and only then) should you get that ebook…even if it’s free. This is especially true when you have to sign up for something to get it. Whether it’s a website’s rss feed, a newsletter, whatever. If you aren’t interested enough in the site/newsletter/etc to subscribe without the lure of the free ebook, than whatever that ebook is about may not be that interesting to you either, since it’s probably about the same sort of things as the site.
Of course, hearing about a free ebook offer might just perk up your interest in a site/service that you haven’t looked into before, and it might turn out to be a great thing for you. I don’t mean to imply that letting yourself be lured in with a free ebook is a bad thing, just to be sure you actually WANT what’s being offered before you take action to accept it, no matter the price.
If you start taking the time to completely read every ebook you download, you may find yourself being more and more picky about the sorts of ebooks you want to read, and that’s a good thing. Be picky, and when you do download and read an ebook, it will be that much more satisfying that you’re taking action, and not just building up a pointless collection of random and mostly useless ebooks taking up precious space on your hard-drive
Trust me when I say that it feels much better to have a handful of ebooks that you’ve read and that have helped you take action to improve some aspect of your life, than to have hundreds of unread ebooks growing moldy on your hard drive. Much MUCH better.
Brad Leclerc is a writer for http://www.Cogniview.com the leading producer of PDF to excel conversion tools.