No, I'm not saying that all free ebooks are bad news. Frankly, I keep my radar up for freebies for my Kindle. But I do not buy an ebook just because it's free. I still apply standards to the book, just as if I intended to drop money on it.
Publisher - If no one else will say it, I will. I scroll down the page and seek for who actually published the book. If it's an entity I never heard of, I Google it. If the webpage is cheesy, outdated or representative of a one-book-one-author platform, I pass.
Reviews - Yes, I read the reviews. What about the one-star comments? If it's one of ten, I ignore it, usually. Having managed FundsforWriters for twelve years, and having received more than my share of off-the-wall feedback from some random, strange birds, I understand that a single one-star review might not be representative of the book's quality. If someone only has two or three reviews, I see an author unable to market, which can also be interpreted as someone not confident in his work.
Other books - I understand everyone has to start somewhere. If I cannot find other books on Amazon under the author's name, then I Google the author. Trust me...agents, editors and publishers do the exact same thing when they receive a query. With the Internet so readily available, why not use it? What I find on the author often impacts my "purchase" decision, even if it's free.
Website or Blog - I love studying website designs, mainly because I'm hunting for ideas for my author website. I'm also a blog junkie. If I like a writer's voice, I want to read him or her, and that includes a blog. Amazingly, few authors have blogs.I also want to know if this freebie is to entice me to purchase something else. A free ebook can be bait to a scam or, on the positive side, a taste of something great that might be worth purchasing. I'm a sucker for a series, and freebies work well in that regard.
At the risk of sounding snobbish, I spend just as much time considering which free ebook to read as I do buying a hardback in a Barnes & Noble. The cost isn't the issue. The investment of my time to read the book is my concern. With only 24 hours in my day, and 25 hours worth of obligations on my calendar, the books I read have to deliver, and I reduce those odds via a personal selection process.
Something tells me that I'm not the only person who does that.