Box sets, box sets everywhere. Not that long ago, the words, “box set,” when applied to books, only meant collectible editions of linked paperbacks, by series or works of a single author, and most certainly not romance. Oh, how times have changed. Comes the e-pub revolution, and suddenly, our social media feeds and e-retailers are filled with them. All those books, for one low price? Who could possibly resist? Can the promise of a box set be too good to be true? Let’s take a look.
For many, box sets are a mixed bag. As with paper anthologies, there may be an author or two the reader already knows and loves, as well as a few names that are brand new for this particular reader. For some, it’ laser vision, and honing in on those favorites is all that matters. Maybe they’ll get around to the other entries, and maybe not, especially if the individual books are linked by theme, location, or character type, rather than narrative, but that’s the cherry on top of the sundae. Their favorites are what they came for, and everything else is extra. Others will make sure to at least sample every entry. Maybe they’ll find a new favorite and maybe they won’t. They’re willing to take that risk.
Others may pounce on the box sets because, familiar authors or not, there is no way on this earth they are going to miss a chance to get their paws on romance novels that cover their favorite genre, theme, or trope. Mention Vampire SEALs in Regency England (oh come on, somebody, somewhere, has thought of a way to make this work) and they are there. Shut up and take their money. Maybe take their money several more times, because, you know, some (let’s face it, probably most) of the individual books, even if they can be read as standalones (which is a whole other topic, that we will tackle later) are going to tie-in to ongoing series by each individual author, which means -you guessed it- more books to read, yippee!
Without the pesky issue of filling actual bookshelves, there is theoretically no limit to the amount of box sets, and therefore books, that we can put on the virtual shelves of our e-readers and other devices with e-reading apps, so what drawbacks could there be? As it turns out, there are a few.
One reader purchased her first box set with the sole intent of reading a classic category romance from a favorite author who now writes women’s fiction and NA. All well and good, as there is no wrong way to go into a box set, but the methods of navigating the whole package left her flummoxed. While she eventually did get to the book she came for, she also spent more than a few pages frustrated, because this didn’t sound like the author she’d bought the set to read. On closer inspection, that was because she’d navigated to the wrong book. The new one wasn’t for her, and that’s okay; with the number of different stories and author voices within a set, it’s a fair bet that not every story is going to be for every reader. Plenty of fish in the sea, er, books on the shelf, we should say, so no harm done.
Some readers are quick to jump on a new box set, especially when it’s priced at an irresistible price – who wouldn’t want ten books for less than a dollar? – but that’s the peril of one click buying. It’s easy. Too easy, sometimes, and then there’s the perplexed reader, looking at dozens of books that each have their own appeal, but with only so many hours in the day. Reader’s guilt is a real thing, and a real risk when box sets are shiny and plentiful.
Even so, box sets provide us with a ready-made mini-library, whether from tried and true favorites, long out of print classics, or brave new voices taking on new happily ever afters of their own. If the whole set doesn’t work out, the delete button will banish it to the realm of memory. If it does work out, well, the new adventures with new writers, characters and story worlds are endless. Sounds like a risk worth taking to us.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you purchase box sets of e-books? When you get a box set, do you read all the entries, or only a few? Do you read in any particular order? Have you ever found a new author to follow, from reading a box set, that you had never read or even heard of before? Hate box sets, or don’t see the point? We want to hear about that, too. Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.