Friday, June 12, 2009

Ohmigod, Another One...

I just saw another book on Amazon's site (Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") that is MORE expensive in the Kindle edition than it is a print version. Unlike the first book I found like this, this edition is the trade paperback and goes for $10.17. The Kindle version is priced at $11.99, $1.82 more.

Um, so right now today I can pay $359.00 for an electronic reader, then pay higher prices for the electronic versions of books? Geez, how fortunate we all are to live in such technologically advanced times.

I read on a blog where an author was posting his unpublished books on the Amazon site for sale in the Kindle format. He could charge $1.59 and make .70 per download. This means that Amazon's share is 56% of the consumer price, which beats the hell out of iTunes' 35%.

I suspect the great miscalculation in the amazing Kindle project is that the technology is somehow so compelling that price is no object. As a believer that the publishing industry as a whole is shooting itself in the foot with book prices that are simply too high, I can only believe that at the end of the day, this whole Kindle thing will be a small footnote along the path. Books will be written about it, I'm sure.

And if you're willing to pay a buck or two extra, you can read it on an actual Kindle.

Monday, June 08, 2009


I can't help it but I gotta say more. I've been trying to hold it in...

Still an Amazon fan, still not sure what they're trying to kindle with a Kindle. I saw a book last week that is actually a dollar MORE for the Kindle version than the physical hardcover. I just clicked on a random cover shot on their site (Melissa Gilbert's memoir) and the Kindle version's a whole dollar and some odd change cheaper than the hardcover.

Really, what are they Kindling? Are they expanding the e-book market, or just their bank account? If I bought books all priced at the same rate as the Gilbert one, I'd have to buy four hundred books to break even on the cost of the reading device.

Rather than call it "Kindle," how about something more accurate like, "E-book Reader That Displays Books Sold According to the iTunes Model." iTunes apparently gets 35% of everything sold through their site. They get the biggest slice of the pie, more than the artist, more than the label, more than anyone.

Perhaps that's fair, just, and the way it ought to be. I can't help but think, though, that if distribution is so lucrative, and can be done by anyone with a web server, that at some point labels will sell their bands' music from the labels' own sites. Or the from the bands' own sites. Once the consumer is used to buying music online and the artist is well enough known that their fans will seek out their sites, why iTunes?

Yes, this is already being done to some degree but not enough to diminish iTunes. I think that ultimately expensive distribution will always drive manufacturers (in this case writers and artists) to find cheaper methods. I don't think that's the fire the Kindle is supposed to be igniting.

Don't leave any money on the table, charge what the market will bear, charge for the hype. Yeah, whatever. To live up to their hype they'd need to make e-books attractive and available to people who are reluctant consumers.

My point is that buying into the Kindle way is just too darned expensive. Charging prices that are so close to the actual book price is simply laughable, especially when your biggest potential audience are actual book buyers. There's a market, sure, but it's a subset of readers, ones that treat books as disposable objects, not items worthy of a Library. I suppose if they spend more money on books than ordinary book lovers they could make Amazon happy.

For the rest of us, I say bring back the mass market paperback. Sell some books at five or six bucks a pop and maybe they could kindle something more substantial, like more actual readers. A new reader isn't as likely to shell out over three bills for a machine and THEN shell out so much for each file, er, book than they would be to come out of a bookstore with a handful of paperbacks. Just two more cents in the pickle jar.