Are E-Books and Accidental Discovery Mutually Exclusive?

I read this quote today on Jeff O’Neal’s blog Critical Linking:

Accidental Discovery

There’s an aspect to traditional books which is lost in even the best electronic reader, which is Accidental Discovery: I’m reading this or that, and leave it laying about the house, and you visit and see it, or you’re perusing my book-shelves to see what i’m up to, and find something which interests you. I’m a technologist, and i worry that this casual, accidental, and as you mention, social means of discovering by talking about books is threatened by devices which need to be explicitly searched in order to find out what they hold.”

How do you discover new books? #amreading #ebooks #bookworm Click To Tweet

This got me thinking about how I discover books, and I realize there is some truth in this statement. I had company last weekend; the woman was reading a print copy of Gone Girl, so of course we began discussing it, and she offered to leave it for me when she finished. Our conversation led to a discussion about various authors and written dialogue;  when she said she’d never read anything by Jodi Picoult, I encouraged her to help herself to one of several books by Picoult that I have on my bookshelf.

So here are two cases of accidental discovery: we both now have the opportunity to read books we might not have “discovered” on our own.

The question is, would we have discovered these books if they had only been on our e-readers, cell phones, or tablets? I have to agree with the opening quote, that explicitly searching for something on an electronic device is a very different activity. Personally, I often ask people what they are reading on their Nooks, Kindles, or other e-readers, but I’ve never followed up with “What else do you have on your reader?”

What about you? I’d love to know how you discover books in this electronic age. And if you are an e-book reader, have you ever been queried about the books you have on it?

Happy Reading!


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Related articles

Why Writing Well Matters, Even When Your Product Is Free

Writing WellI came across a blog post the other day that I want to share with you precisely because the author is not a novelist, but she is a consumer–the type of consumer who might one day download your e-book.

In this post, Jill P. Viers writes about the overabundance of typos in a free e-book she downloadeda nonfiction book filled with information she says “is valid and fairly useful”yet the book is loaded with errors.

“Why Writing Well Matters, Even When Your Product Is Free” is a post every author should read. Remember: Your book is your resumé; you never get a second chance to make a first impression; save yourself time, money, and anxiety by making sure your book is the best it can be before you publish.

Remember: Your book is your resumé; you never get a second chance to make a first impression. #amediting #editingtip #writers Click To Tweet


I am reading an ebook that I picked up for free when I signed up for someone’s mailing list. The information in the free ebook is valid and fairly useful; however, the free ebook is full of typos and misuses of words. I’m not talking about one or two minor errors. I could get over that. We’re all human. I make mistakes, too.

Notice I keep pointing out that this was a free ebook? There’s a reason, and it’s not an attempt to keyword stuff this post. Some people would ask me, “Why are you complaining about the typos when you got the book for free?”

Here’s the answer: Because I’m still investing my time into reading this ebook. If the author didn’t care enough to proofread, yet this is the author’s “sales pitch” or “can’t miss giveaway” that’s supposed to make me want to hire the author in the future, it’s ultimately a fail for me.”

Read more here.

Happy Writing!


Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

Overcoming Biological Malfunctions–Guest Blog by Steve K. Smy

I invited author and fellow blogger Steve K. Smy to share some thoughts today. We exchanged a few emails about potential topics, and Steve settled on writing about writing with a disability. I was very inspired when I read his post, and I think you will be as well. Please be sure to visit Steve at to read his entertaining and engaging posts.

Writing with a Disability #amwriting #writers #authors Click To Tweet


writing with a disability

I suffer from some very significant health problems. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I’m virtually immobilised and housebound. Back in 2011, when I came far too close to being terminal, I began to vegetate. Now, it’s one thing to be a couch potato when you choose to be, but it’s another to become the whole vegetable garden by force of circumstance! On a long, slow road to recovery, I began looking for things to do. I took up knitting and made some real progress in it. I moved on to beading and jewellery making as we moved into 2012, together with cross-stitching. But these excellent therapies were aiding only in a physical sense. I really needed mental stimulation. It was then that I returned to something I had loved doing since I was 13 years old—writing!

I had recently discovered these things called ebooks. I’d created PDFs in the past, for other reasons, and it seemed like this ebook thing might be a way to do more than just write for my own pleasure. There was no reason why I shouldn’t, I thought, write and produce PDFs, which I could then offer via a web site. You never knew—somebody might actually even want to read things I had written. Miracles do happen, after all.

Now, back in the day, I liked writing with those peculiar items—pen and paper. A typewriter had been even better. When the opportunity presented itself, I fully embraced personal computers. It was natural, then, to use a computer for my writing efforts. Not! On every previous attempt, I had gotten nowhere at all. But now, I had a reason beyond simply wanting to write. I wanted to survive! Not only that, I wanted to recover my mothballed grey matter and make it into something like its old self. Teetering on the brink during most of 2011 proved to be a powerful motivator. That and going nuts because I seldom saw anything outside one room of the house!

It wasn’t easy, and there were long periods when I simply couldn’t write, but I started work on a novel. It’s still a work in progress but the creativity had been reawakened. I was also learning new things. In fact, I was getting downright excited by the whole scene! So much so, I started writing a blog all about it. I had discovered this wonderful thing of modern times—self-publishing. I had also acquired this piece of software that would take what I wrote in Open Office and turn it into various formats of ebook, with very little effort on my part. Well, the writing was an effort, of course, but the software made things much simpler once the writing was done.

When I hit a block in writing my novel, I started writing short stories. These fulfilled my need to write. More, they gave me the opportunity to actually become a self-published author! What was even more gratifying was that people actually downloaded my short story ebooks. I had a sense of having arrived. It was a sweet feeling.

Still, there were those nasty, inconvenient health problems. I admit it. They still leave me unable to function at times. But they’ve also contributed to my writing. I have a better understanding of many things thanks to them. Partly that’s because I have more experiences to draw upon, but partly it’s a side effect. Being pretty immobile, I’ve become an even better observer of others. It’s all grist to the mill. Ultimately, any writer takes elements of everything they encounter and turns them into a stew. That stew will, eventually, turn into something entirely new, a creation in which tiny parts of no huge significance are brought to life by a spark from the author.

I can’t claim that bad health has inspired me, but there is no denying that it has driven me. Since February 2012, I’ve written more and more as time has passed, and the need to write has grown steadily. So in a sense I owe my health problems some thanks for that much. I’m not even sure that I would continue writing if I was to be miraculously cured, so I guess that I need the problems to keep me doing something I’ve always loved doing. They give me permission to write!

~ Steve K. Smy

I write fantasy, science fiction and occasionally other genres. I have, to date, published nine short story ebooks, five of them in a single series. I’m also working on a fantasy novel. My works are available from various sources and are all free to download, for the currently published short story ebooks. I also blog about writing, self-publishing and related matters. My blog also contains book reviews, author interviews and various other material of interest.

My ebooks to date can be found on Smashwords (in various formats) and as ePubs on Goodreads, Kobo (for kobo eReaders), iTunes (for iBooks), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook), Diesel eBooks and Sony ebook store (in the USA/Canada only). None have DRM applied to them.

My blog:
Facebook page: