Recently, I've been in the mood to reread trashy books. I'm not sick, which is what would typically trigger this, however I have upped the amount of exercise (to the point where most nights everything below my knees is generating fierce amounts of heat), which may amount to the same thing: no extra energy to think with.
In any event, I figured I'd go take a look at my archived/"cloud" books on the kindle, and see if anything looked tempting. I started from the very oldest, and picked out a Jayne Ann Krentz Arcane Society entry. And then another. By the end of last night, I was buying Krentz novels that I hadn't bothered with before.
So what changed? I have some theories. See above mentioned exercise for the primary one, along with It's the Holiday Season and thus I don't really want to be thinking about anything if I can possibly help it. But there are some other possibilities.
(1) When Krentz's books are released, they are (and this was true even before the Pricing Wars) priced close to hardcover. My expectations are therefore high. I'm re-reading them (free!) and/or buying them at paperback prices. Expectations have been reduced. This is something that publishers and authors should take into consideration. I've been a Krentz fan for 15? years or thereabouts -- but I quit buying her books or reading them or even rereading them AND I even got rid of all of the copies of her pbooks that I already owned in part because of disappointed expectations associated with For That Much Money It Should Have Been Much Better. I can afford the money. But it turns out, it has an impact on how I feel or think about the book. This may explain why people who review books they get for free tend to be so favorable about the books: it isn't just they-owe-someone-something or are trying to preserve the stream of goodies. It's that expectations on a freebie are ... not high.
(2) I've been reading some recent category romance (the Wilde Siblings) and romantic suspense (Roxane St. Claire) that is New To Me. When I'm reading a series that I have been reading for a long while, it develops so many expectations and built-in feelings, that it can be tricky to perceive new entries with Fresh Eyes. Because most of Krentz's books are more-or-less standalones, I was probably reading new entries from her with more critical eyes than my favorite series at the time were getting. Since then, I've quit reading/given up on some of those favorite series (some came to an end). I might be a little more desperate for trashy reading as a result.
(3) Krentz's series construction is unlike anyone else's that I know of.
And this is where it gets interesting. Longer story arcs have become steadily more mainstream over the time period that I have been reading Krentz. They went from being a kinda weird phenomena, limited to stuff like Doctor Who and soap operas, to ubiquity. And they went from the fairly simple romance trilogy (where Three Sisters or Friends or wtf Each Get Married, with the early-hookups having a kid in the later novels), to the kinds of massive and complex casts previously only known in soap opera land. Krentz went from writing standalones to writing interlocking trilogies, and she did something super odd: the first entry in each trilogy is a contemporary (Krentz), the second is a historical (about the same object, the characters' ancestors, and related powers -- by Amanda Quick) and the third is a futuristic (in the future, on another planet, descendants, the same object, related powers, etc. -- by Jayne Castle).
Honestly, when I first encountered this, I eye-rolled. It seemed like a lot of work (especially since the trilogies interconnected as well, and she rolled in seemingly standalone, no paranormal stuff like Eclipse Bay) for a trashy novel. And her character development and relationship development is highly stereotyped, so a lot of the early reviews pointed that out (honestly, if you are pointing this out about Krentz because it bothers you, you're probably not the target audience).
When I was reading this stuff because I was looking for that particular storyline, it really did have too complex a back story to be interesting. But lately, I've been reading these things because I'm weirdly fascinated by the idea that someone would develop a Universe in this particular way (contemporary/historical/future -- in that order! -- complete with paranormal powers and objects, institutions that span the entire arc, geek researchers to help explain it all, etc.).
The kindle environment is kind of awesome for rereading, in that you don't need to keep old stuff around on purpose to be able to reread it. In fact, if you try to re-buy something you already bought once, it'll tell you (plenty of other people have benefitted from this by not having gotten around to reading it, but this is beneficial if you last read it enough years ago that you are uncertain about the details, which is sort of the point of rereading trashy fiction). You don't have to contemplate the book every time you need space on the shelves, and wonder will I ever reread this one? Because seriously, all this stuff would have been purged. And yet, there they still are.
I do, however, think that there's going to be a long-term market for continuity fixers. When a series becomes sufficiently complex and long-running, the continuity errors become grating to new readers who are catching up by reading everything in one marathon session. With automatic book update, there's no reason why this stuff cannot be corrected (at least most of it anyway) for new readers and re-readers. And it would make rereading long series a lot more entertaining. Best of all, there could be a new complaint: people who want the original back the way it was when _they_ read it. ;-)