30 Stories in 30 Days #6 – “Free Crap”
Shaking her head, Sue put a bookmark in her book and laid it on the bed beside her. She looked over at her fiancé Mike and asked, “Problem?”
He looked up from his Kindle. “Hmm?”
“You’ve been muttering.”
“Oh.” After a moment he explained, “The other day I saw some guy on Facebook promoting his self-published collection of scifi stories. To try to build up buzz about it, for one weekend it was free. I figured I should check out the competition, and the price was right, so I downloaded it.” He lifted his Kindle as indication.
“Are you having … downloader’s remorse?”
Mike chuckled. “You can say that.”
“So what upsets you so about this free thing you chose to get?”
“The stories suck.”
“So?” Sue shrugged. “You think half the stories in the magazines we subscribe to suck.”
“And don’t I bitch about them?”
“Yes. Yes you do.”
Mike frowned at her, and Sue smiled back. Shaking his head, Mike grumbled something.
Sue reached over and rubbed his back. “I’m afraid to ask, but what is so painful about these stories?”
Mike set his Kindle aside and thought for a moment. “The main issue I have is that this guy – unless he improves substantially – has no chance of being published professionally. Not counting a couple of formatting issues and the dozen or so typos I’ve found, he isn’t that good of a storyteller. The characters are flat and wooden, the dialog is cheesy, the aliens are just … humans dressed differently. But instead of working on raising his standards so the professionals would accept his stories, he just slaps them all together and sells them as an ebook.”
Sue sighed. “I thought I had heard the end of the ‘Ebooks will be the death of literature’ rants from you once you broke down and bought yourself a Kindle.”
“And who was being foolish about that?” Mike asked with a grin.
Sue stuck her tongue out at him.
Holding the Kindle up so she could see the screen, Mike said, “I think this is strong evidence for the death of literature.”
“Yes because nobody ever published crappy books.” Sue paused and then added, “Titanium Nighttime.”
Mike gave a full body shudder. He classed Titanium Nighttime as the worst book he had ever read. He had even run a series of ten blogs where he discussed in detail the ten biggest flaws he saw in the book. But despite – and because – of his revulsion to it, he kept it on the bookshelf near his computer to remind himself that if such crap could get published there was hope for him.
Once he was done shuddering, Mike said, “Okay, yes, just as there are crappy books there will be crappy ebooks, and it was just my luck I downloaded a free one.”
Sue reached over and rubbed his back again. “There’s always hope,” she said, “that in the future a clear sign that a story has value is that someone took the time and effort to publish it as a book.” She picked up her book and waved it at him.
“And all the crappy books will be electronic?”
“No, all books will be electronic, but the good ones will also be printed on paper.”
Mike furrowed his brow. “But any schmuck can self-publish a book on paper now. What will be the difference?”
Sue thought for a moment, then said, “Just shut up and read your free crappy stories.”
Author’s note: more Mike and Sue stories can be found here.