Reading can be an expensive form of entertainment, especially if you are an avid reader who consumes several books a month.
The library has always been a great resource for avid readers and growing up that is where most of my reading material came from. But then life started getting in the way and I found I couldn't always get through a book during the 2 week lending period or more often that I couldn't get to the library during their hours to browse for books.
Since ebooks hit the digital shelves, there has been a plethora of ebooks offered for free. If you have a Kindle, then you always have a large selection of free ebook options. However, I use a Nook and there aren't quite as many free ebooks at B&N. I started book blogging in part to receive free books, but writing reviews takes time - time that not everyone has. So what is a regular avid reader to do?
I was recently asked to review a new site that offers free ebooks in exchange for a social media share. HonestFew launched a new book discovery engine in December wherein a reader is provided with a single line to entice them. It gives new importance to the "book hook". (If you rather judge a book by its cover, you can scroll down and see the covers of available ebooks).
When you find a one-liner that intrigues you, you are directed to the author's page on the site. On this page you get information about the author and why he/she thinks you will like their book. There are also two options for obtaining the book:
- Purchase Now - Takes you to Amazon where you purchase the book
- Get it free - for either a tweet, Facebook share or Facebook like you get a link to the ebook files (both epub and mobi versions are available)
The minimalist look, though, had some drawbacks. I couldn't easily find instructions or what exactly I was responsible for. There are mentions of writing reviews, the drop down menu has a "verify review" option, but I couldn't easily tell if it was a condition of obtaining a free ebook. I found the whole drop down menu confusing as you have to look under "services" to get to the book discovery page.
Honestly, the lack of basic website components that I feel are standard for reputable companies had me questioning the legitimatize of the site. What company doesn't offer a Frequently Asked Questions type page that explains how things work? Contact information and About Us is also missing.
I still don't understand what the "what product did you order" and "product order number" on my profile are for.
I'm also not sure how much the author benefits from the site. The text above the social share buttons make it sound like the share will promote the author or book:
You can get the book free if you simply spread the word about this book! Help an author out and get a great book.The tweet that is generated is simply an advertisement for HonestFew, though it does link to the author page with the book.
You can change the tweet to anything you want, but I would have liked for the generated tweet to be more about supporting the book. The Facebook share and Facebook like similarly seem more about the HonestFew site than the author/book.
As for the ebooks offered: I don't think I had heard of any of them, but there is a wide variety including non-fiction and children's books. The book that caught my eye first was Girl On Fire by Sue Wyshynki. I looked it up on Amazon where it had more than 100 reviews, but it was also free (it is permafree since I also found it on Barnes and Noble). I wondered if all the books were available free at the stores. So I checked a few others and they aren't all available for free. One ebook costs $5.99 at Amazon. Some were older titles, but I did see at least one that was published late last year.
I liked that I could get the epub files since I use a Nook. But make sure you are on the computer that you use for Adobe Editions or have a cloud based service that you can save the files to since you can only access the link at that time. Of course, you can always social share again to get the link. By the way, the link is for a folder on Google Drive.
For the reader, HonestFew can be a fun way to discover new books. I would like for there to be more information about using the site as a reader. I also felt like the site was more about selling HonestFew's services than actually discovering books. So more separation of the two would be more appealing to me as a reader. Maybe make "Reader" a top menu item instead of being in the drop down menu under services.
Overall, I wasn't particularly impressed with it. If you aren't sure what to read next or want to find a new to you author, then you might really like the site. I like the idea of offering a social share as currency for an ebook.
Have you tried the site? If so, what do you think?
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