Amazon Kindle -- A Year Later?

adam.greenbrier wrote:
I wasn't a fan of the look of the original Kindle, but the Kindle 2 is really pretty. I could probably use something like this if it weren't so expensive. What's the book selection like? They advertise a selection of 230,000 books, but is that just the 235,000 Dean Koontz books? Does it have a good selection of books from more obscure or literary authors, or is it really just good for mass market books?

It's pretty comprehensive, all things considered. I run into fewer and fewer recently published books that don't show up on the Kindle. I bought a Joe R. Lansdale book for... $2? I can't remember. He's the guy who wrote Bubba Ho-tep and Sunset & Sawdust, so he's not exactly Tom Clancy-mainstream. On the other hand, Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" isn't available, while "No Country for Old Men" and "The Road" are. It all depends on the publisher.

On the plus side, if it's floating out there as a PDF or Mobipocket, your Kindle can read it (with conversion for the PDF.)

If you're really curious, just do an Amazon search for a couple of books. Under "other formats" or whatever, the Kindle additional will be listed if it's available.

I wish it would tell you when items on your wishlist are available as Kindle items. The "save for later" doesn't cut it for me, and you can't wishlist a Kindle item.

Do you wanna take the chance, Thin? In short: I don't know whether gaming the system will work, but I'd bet against it.

It's not really hacking. Note my comment above. My wife gets lots of free, copyright-expired books from Project Gutenburg, converts them, and puts them on her Kindle via USB cable. no "hacking" of the device required.

You could also send docs to your Kindle's email address and Amazon will convert and deliver them for a nominal fee.

Warlock wrote:
Yeah I've been thinking about one as well, and version 2.0 has NOT made my decision any easier... that thing is sexy!

I was actually about to start a thread of this very same nature.

But, I found Stanza for my iPhone to tide me over until I can warrant dropping $380 on another device. It is actually pretty sweet, though at this point I'm just playing around with the public domain books.

I downloaded a pretty sweet (and depressing!) Vonnegut short story called "2 B R 0 2 B" about suicide and population control in a dystopian future. It was only 19 pages, and so it was just fine to read, but I'm not sure how the small scale of the iPhone would be for reading for longer periods of time - like on an airplane or something.

I get on well enough with Stanza that getting a Kindle or any dedicated ebook reader has never been a serious consideration. Prior to getting an iPhone, I have always had WinMo PDAs or phones, so ubook reader did the job.

While Stanza is still fairly young, it is very impressive and readable; I have been working my way through Peter F. Hamilton's back catalogue, each one of which is thick enough to use choke a hippo on. Stanza auto-detects chapter headings, and splits the book up for you.

The Kindle, old or new, is just too big for what is essentially a single-function device. I would not feel comfortable getting a Kindle out just to read for 5 minutes in an unexpected lull, even if I had a pocket big enough for one.

I would rather see development going into improving the capacity of phones to do a better job than into single function readers. Given the massive popularity of books and short stories for mobiles in Japan, it would seem rather likely that the Kindle is never going to get beyond niche status.

Faster page turning, though 20% of less than a second is hardly an immense leap forward. But for those who really disliked the refresh rate before it might be noticeable.

Looking from the outside, it may seem like a silly improvement, but there was a case study - may actually have been Amazon - related to web page response time. They documented an amazing increase in purchase rate with a really tiny decrease in response time - on the order of 300 milliseconds to 250 sort of thing.

You'd think 50 milliseconds wouldn't make much difference, but apparently it does.

I think their motto, “Our vision is every book, ever printed, in any language , all available in less than 60 seconds,” as Bezos touts, is a bit off. I don't think Amazon needs to focus so much on the less than 60 second thing. I mean since when did book readers have ADD?

I think they should focus on making content cheaper or subsidizing the Kindle. How is a subscription to the NYT on the Kindle just as expensive as a paper one? I have a hardcover Security Analysis book and I have to pay full price again to get a text file version? How come their paperback pricing is $1 or so?

I guess I'm beating the same drum, but I have the same problem with the AppleTv and I'm a big Apple fan. I would love to get one, but content is too expensive and too scarce.

They should make digital content so cheap that people buy much more than they have time for. I think that is the business model for digital media.

Well, I was waiting for the Kindle 2 to pull the trigger, and now it is done. Now I just have to wait 3-4 weeks for my new toy

I guess I'm beating the same drum, but I have the same problem with the AppleTv and I'm a big Apple fan. I would love to get one, but content is too expensive and too scarce.

They should make digital content so cheap that people buy much more than they have time for. I think that is the business model for digital media.

Boy, I love my AppleTV. I ripped all of my DVD movies (400+) and TV shows (2000 episodes or so) to digital format and can stream them to either of my AppleTV's. So very awesome. I would never, ever go back. Of course, it required adding a RAIDed NAS to my home network, but hey...little details.

Oh, wait. This is a Kindle thread. I LOVE mine, and will be upgrading. Which means I need to sell v1...

I'm glad the K2 doesn't make my original obsolete. It's still my favorite toy.

spider_j wrote:

The Kindle, old or new, is just too big for what is essentially a single-function device. I would not feel comfortable getting a Kindle out just to read for 5 minutes in an unexpected lull, even if I had a pocket big enough for one.

I would rather see development going into improving the capacity of phones to do a better job than into single function readers. Given the massive popularity of books and short stories for mobiles in Japan, it would seem rather likely that the Kindle is never going to get beyond niche status.

I disagree. If it were any smaller, it would be too small for anything but a multi-function device, which it isn't. It's supposed to be roughly the page area of a book, for obvious reasons. And if anything, they're pondering making it larger for things like textbooks.

And the Kindle is easy to pull out for quick bursts of reading. On the bus, plane, even in the bar. About as easy as a book would be. And considering it doesn't really drain battery power unless you're turning pages, if you abruptly have to pocket it, you just lock it and slip it back where it came from.

I don't doubt it doesn't appeal to everyone, but I made the comparison last time to Blackberry, as far as the "niche" comments were concerned. At first there were only about 1 or 2 million Blackberry users, but they were very committed to it. Then it hovered around 10 million for awhile, which is still a minor percentage of the mobile market. Now it's at 21 million. The majority? No way. But hardly a niche anymore, at about 10% of the U.S. market.

Now considering that the number of people who read regularly in America is bound to be lower than the number of people with cell phones, I'd say selling an estimated half million Kindles last year is pretty impressive.

trip1eX wrote:

I think they should focus on making content cheaper or subsidizing the Kindle. How is a subscription to the NYT on the Kindle just as expensive as a paper one? I have a hardcover Security Analysis book and I have to pay full price again to get a text file version? How come their paperback pricing is $1 or so?

I guess I'm beating the same drum, but I have the same problem with the AppleTv and I'm a big Apple fan. I would love to get one, but content is too expensive and too scarce.

They should make digital content so cheap that people buy much more than they have time for. I think that is the business model for digital media. :P

The pricing of professional books and textbooks has nothing to do with its format. I have a 90-page archivist's textbook that clocks in at over $100, and that's the paperback. Markets for specialized materials like that have issues of pricing due primarily to the size of their respective markets and that they can charge whatever they want, so why charge less?

I'm not sure what you're referring to with the $1 paperback pricing. But if that's from just someone reselling their book, it's not really the same situation. If it's from the same publisher, that's just kind of an insane business model.

And the idea of subsidizing it is kind of unusual. I don't believe they're exactly raking it in, the e-ink technology is still kind of new. Look at competing readers, and they're in the same price range or more expensive, which leads me to believe you really can't make it much cheaper and still turn a profit. The only time people subsidize the costs of devices is when the adoption rate is critically low, like, say, HD televisions. They've been unable to keep up with the number of pre-orders for the entire past year, so obviously, while still niche, they really don't have to do anything. Whatever they're doing, for now at least, it's working. If rates were to decline and their user-base became static, that might happen, but I can't imagine that occurring for awhile. By which time the price will have probably dropped purely through improvements in the manufacturing process that lower costs, so they again wouldn't have to subsidize it.

Also, it's worth pointing out that unless you have a different deal on your subscription, the Kindle NYT is roughly half as much as the paper version, depending on how often/what package you got from the NYT people. So that point is inaccurate.

As a user, I want digital content cheap, but from any other perspective, like the creators and publishers, it's kind of naive. There's a lot more than goes into publishing a book than the costs of producing the physical volume, and a lot of people to get paid. I've bought a couple good (older) books for the Kindle at $4 or $5, and books I just couldn't wait for that are in hardcover for $10. Every now and then I even see a free book pop up, or ones that are only a couple dollars (very old books.) I mean, sure, you can get a hardcover for cheaper than $30 on Amazon, but the resale value on books is pretty low, and it gets lower the more people have bought a book. I literally could not give away the Da Vinci Code at a books to prisoners fundraiser where we were selling some of our hardcovers.

Unlike a techie device, like say, the Kindle, I've never bought a book thinking about my ability to recoup my investment through selling it later (except for textbooks, which like I said, is a different type of captive market.) If anything, I usually just give my books away if I don't want to keep them. I'm not sure how many other people feel that way, but it seems to be a fairly common attitude.

I think the future of cheaper digital content won't be solved by ire towards publishers for their perceived profiteering (which no doubt exists at certain publishing houses), but through the Hulu approach. Finding ways to supplement profits and costs through advertising. Not that I'd want a commercial break between chapters, but I don't know. Maybe I'd be able to ignore a tiny banner ad along the top of the book. Who knows, but it's something worth considering.

We've got one of the 500 series Sony Readers, and it gets a lot of use. Even the eight year old likes it, though there's a smaller selection of age-appropriate books for his age range. I also like it for large awkward books -- it's a lot easier to hold, either on the couch, curled up in bed, or in the tub (though yes, reading in the tub with electronics makes me a little nervous.)

duckilama wrote:

She absolutely adores it. It won't completely replace "real" books in our house, but it's certainly made keeping her in reading material a whole lot cheaper. I'm pretty sure it's paid for itself already.

Your the second person to mention this but I can't wrap my head around it. In the US we have these places called libraries they offer books for free. I can't see the the Kindle can pay for itself against that. Perhaps I am bias because I work in a library but when people act like there is no choice but to buy a book I can't help but point out how that isn't true.

The only way it could pay for itself is if the person simply had to have a new book on the day it was released and was unwilling to sell the book after reading. The only reason not to sell though would be because the person wanted to look at it on the bookshelf....and that doesn't work very well on the Kindle.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

The pricing of professional books and textbooks has nothing to do with its format. I have a 90-page archivist's textbook that clocks in at over $100, and that's the paperback. Markets for specialized materials like that have issues of pricing due primarily to the size of their respective markets and that they can charge whatever they want, so why charge less?

WEll I don't totally disagree with you. I mean look at NPD reports. It's expensive to get that data even though it is digital. Information has a price.

But saying pricing of textbooks has nothing to do with their format I think is at least half-way offbase. A big heavy text book costs alot to print and distribute. Alot more than a text-file would cost. IF anyone knows what it cost to print hardcover novels, for example, that would clear up the notion of fairly priced by quite a bit. HOwever it's obvious to me that there's a problem with pricing when say, Security Analysis is a $45 1000 page hardcover and a $45 Kindle text file.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

I'm not sure what you're referring to with the $1 paperback pricing. But if that's from just someone reselling their book, it's not really the same situation. If it's from the same publisher, that's just kind of an insane business model.

Paperbacks like you buy at Walmart. The ~$5 buck ones. A Kindle version should be much cheaper and it isn't.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

And the idea of subsidizing it is kind of unusual. I don't believe they're exactly raking it in, the e-ink technology is still kind of new. Look at competing readers, and they're in the same price range or more expensive, which leads me to believe you really can't make it much cheaper and still turn a profit. The only time people subsidize the costs of devices is when the adoption rate is critically low, like, say, HD televisions. They've been unable to keep up with the number of pre-orders for the entire past year, so obviously, while still niche, they really don't have to do anything. Whatever they're doing, for now at least, it's working. If rates were to decline and their user-base became static, that might happen, but I can't imagine that occurring for awhile. By which time the price will have probably dropped purely through improvements in the manufacturing process that lower costs, so they again wouldn't have to subsidize it.

I don't think subsidization is unusual at all. Look at videogame consoles. Look at razors.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

Also, it's worth pointing out that unless you have a different deal on your subscription, the Kindle NYT is roughly half as much as the paper version, depending on how often/what package you got from the NYT people. So that point is inaccurate.

I saw $60 for 3 months for a subscriptoin to the NYT. Maybe that was delivered to the door and not by mail. And I saw $20/month for the Kindle version. But oK I double checked and it's $14/month at Amazon for the Kindle version now. Still outrageous imo when they offer up the same content on the 'net for free. And you get color pictures. I would rather read those on a Kindle, but they make it awfully difficult given the pricing.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

As a user, I want digital content cheap, but from any other perspective, like the creators and publishers, it's kind of naive. There's a lot more than goes into publishing a book than the costs of producing the physical volume, and a lot of people to get paid. I've bought a couple good (older) books for the Kindle at $4 or $5, and books I just couldn't wait for that are in hardcover for $10. Every now and then I even see a free book pop up, or ones that are only a couple dollars (very old books.) I mean, sure, you can get a hardcover for cheaper than $30 on Amazon, but the resale value on books is pretty low, and it gets lower the more people have bought a book. I literally could not give away the Da Vinci Code at a books to prisoners fundraiser where we were selling some of our hardcovers.

I don't think it's naive. Imo it's naive to think their initial pricing is their best pricing. It's naive to think they publishers aren't using this transition to grab a bigger piece of the pie. And it's naive to think that big b&m retailers aren't also keeping digital media prices artificially high.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

Unlike a techie device, like say, the Kindle, I've never bought a book thinking about my ability to recoup my investment through selling it later (except for textbooks, which like I said, is a different type of captive market.) If anything, I usually just give my books away if I don't want to keep them. I'm not sure how many other people feel that way, but it seems to be a fairly common attitude.

Who said anything about recouping investment? But if you want to compare the price of paper content to digital content then you have to try and measure the true costs for both formats. There is a big used book market and one can easily share a paper book with a friend or resell a hardcover and these are opportunity costs that have to be accounted for in any sane price comparison between the two.

Look at pricing of media the last few decades and I think there are at least a few examples of where pricing was initially too high and probably no examples of where pricing was initially too low.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

I think the future of cheaper digital content won't be solved by being ire towards publishers for their perceived profiteering, but through the Hulu approach. Finding ways to supplement profits and costs through advertising. Not that I'd want a commercial break between chapters, but I don't know. Maybe I'd be able to ignore a tiny banner ad along the top of the book. Who knows, but it's something worth considering.

I disagree with your first sentence. I think cheaper digital content pricing is only solved by raising the ire of book publishers. It's only solved by voting with your dollars. You don't think the move to iTunes and piracy didn't bring about Hulu? IF people are happy to pay the prices Kindle books are at now then publishers will have no reason to charge less. So as much as I like the Kindle 2.0 I don't want to enter into a business model that seems more expensive than the way I read now. Granted I'm not a big release-day hardcover book reader, but I do read and I do like the idea of not having as many books on the shelf and reading newspapers from the Kindle's screen. I just think pricing is too high for myself and for the Kindle to really take off.

I guess I'd point out that ala cart, iTunes music has always been much more expensive than physical CDs if you apply the same "not retail" logic. The "real" price for a CD is about 12 bucks, assuming you're not paying full retail. Depending on the album, the per song cost has been more than that for some time, or just below it per album, although most people have been arguing for years that the CD is the superior format: not compressed, already backed up, sharable, etc. Going to the used market, you can get most recent CDs for well under 10 bucks.

So shouldn't we be thinking that getting a book digitally for 10 bucks, vs. 15 "real price" or 25 "retail price" is a bargain way better than we've received with music all along?

Yeah, we all want it to be free. But let's stick to real comparisons. Libraries are free, making buying ANY book suboptimal if all you care about is price.

Newspapers barely make sense in their print versions, expecting them to make sense in this format seems unwise too. I doubt it will ever make sense. There's simply too much text too many days a week, with a bad navigation interface. Doesn't make sense for me to "download" it to my iPhone for free either. News doesn't belong on paper, doesn't belong on kindle (just my opinion).

As for paperbacks: it will take another generation of license contracts for them to make sense. Right now, the reason you see one book at 10 bucks which has been in PB forever, and another at 4, has to do with the contracted arrangement with the author for what constitutes what. A friend of mine writes novels. Her contract contains about 40 definitions of "format," each one with different prices, marketing obligations, and most importantly, splits. If a contract considers digital distribution (if it even did when a book was written) it could be considered in the same breath as hardcover, or as a throwaway.

Anyone wanna commit to buying my K1? $200?

Thin_J wrote:
So if I ordered the first model now while it's out of stock I would end up with the new version?

I don't see a place to buy the Kindle 1 right now, just accessories for it, so you'd be ordering the Kindle 2 regardless.

Amazon wrote:
If you have previously placed an order for Kindle 1, and have not yet received it, your order will automatically be upgraded to Kindle 2. You need to do nothing.

farley3k wrote:
duckilama wrote:

She absolutely adores it. It won't completely replace "real" books in our house, but it's certainly made keeping her in reading material a whole lot cheaper. I'm pretty sure it's paid for itself already.

Your the second person to mention this but I can't wrap my head around it. In the US we have these places called libraries they offer books for free. I can't see the the Kindle can pay for itself against that. Perhaps I am bias because I work in a library but when people act like there is no choice but to buy a book I can't help but point out how that isn't true.

The only way it could pay for itself is if the person simply had to have a new book on the day it was released and was unwilling to sell the book after reading. The only reason not to sell though would be because the person wanted to look at it on the bookshelf....and that doesn't work very well on the Kindle.


My wife and son(and sometimes I) go to the library at least twice a month - usually every week, though - and she goes through a good 3-5 novels every time. Every. Time. She is a voracious reader.

But there are also certain authors or books that she wants to own, that she WILL read repeatedly. Terry Pratchett, for one. She's going to own the books, one way or another.

It's not that we don't use our library - and inter-library exchange program - to their fullest extents; it's that we - my wife, my son, and I - are all very voracious readers AND we like to reread.

Additionally, it sounds like I'm harping on it, but PROJECT GUTENBERG has a buttload of good books for free. There's also a LOT of other good stuff on the internet for free, LEGALLY. Plenty of technical books in free PDF form, particularly programming books can be had for nothing or a song direct from the author. TOR books has/had a LOT of free sci-fi ebooks a while back, maybe still do.

And that's part of the savings. Go look at Project Gutenberg's offerings. If you want a copy to reread, or to mark up, or to study/research from, you can either buy a hardcopy for standard prices, wear out your welcome at the library by keeping them for months on end, or you can put a free one on the Kindle. Instant savings.

Let's throw the NYT on there, too...

I saw $60 for 3 months for a subscriptoin to the NYT. Maybe that was delivered to the door and not by mail. And I saw $20/month for the Kindle version. But oK I double checked and it's $14/month at Amazon for the Kindle version now. Still outrageous imo when they offer up the same content on the 'net for free. And you get color pictures. I would rather read those on a Kindle, but they make it awfully difficult given the pricing.

I don't know - do you really want or need the full NYT? Unless you live in NYC, why? Do you really need to know the showtimes of every show every week? The original editorial reporting is the real reason for a NYT 'scrip, and they have a special option for that, that, as I mentioned above, is like $2 or $4 per month. And it means I'm not getting a physical paper, paying the big 'scrip fee, and then having to recycle it.

So, yeah, the Kindle can save you money. You just have to have a little willpower and be a critical consumer. Don't buy everything you think you want, find free alternatives, including libraries and Project Gutenberg, and look for sales and bargains.

farley3k wrote:
Your the second person to mention this but I can't wrap my head around it. In the US we have these places called libraries they offer books for free. I can't see the the Kindle can pay for itself against that. Perhaps I am bias because I work in a library but when people act like there is no choice but to buy a book I can't help but point out how that isn't true.

Ours is crappy and is too often closed.

rabbit wrote:

Anyone wanna commit to buying my K1? $200?
So tempting. If I could get textbooks in PDF I would be all over this.

The only reason not to sell though would be because the person wanted to look at it on the bookshelf....and that doesn't work very well on the Kindle.

I just want to reiterate the false assumption here.
Some people read books more than once.
I've read every single Discworld novel at least once.
I've read all of them except the witch books at least twice, though I have read *some* of the witch ones more than once.
I've read Pyramids, Thief of Time, Thud and others at least 4 times each. At least. Owning them has easily outweighed the cost of driving to a library, added up, for all the times I would have wanted to reread them.

Some folks don't reread books.
Some folks don't watch a movie more than once.
Some folks can't fathom rewatching a whole season of a TV show they already saw last year.

I am not one of those people. I reuse my media. Repeatedly.

I live in a neighborhood where there ARE people who buy books - I am not making this up - BECAUSE they will look good on the shelf.

Seriously. These people exist. Never read a book. Never even cracked the spine - that would ruin the look! Don't even know what the books on their shelves are about. These people are idiots, and since you clearly read my first post, I'm not sure how your counter got to this point. I think if you have a book on your shelf, you should have read it, or at least tried. There's not a book in our house that my wife, son, or I haven't read at least once. We have 7 bookshelves equivalent to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, 4 shelves per case. Books piled on top of the shelves, too, so really 4 and a half shelves per case. We have 6 more book boxes in a closet we don't have room for. And I have no idea how many books my wife has on her Kindle.
We don't own ANY books that haven't been read, and that's WITH near-weekly library trips to trim the bill.

Farley, one of my intended uses is to load up pdf manuals for Solaris and systems and the like for use in datacenters and customer offices. Some of them don't like laptops in their facilities, but won't mind a Kindle. And many of the books I read would require a wait at a city library.

I've always collected books, and this seems like a good way to cut back on space. Now I have to start culling what I have, the house is overgrown with stuff. So this is a step there, too.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
farley3k wrote:
Your the second person to mention this but I can't wrap my head around it. In the US we have these places called libraries they offer books for free. ...

Ours is crappy and is too often closed.

We have a pretty decent library in town, but the titles are limited. Often some of the author's best books aren't purchased even when his or her crappy books are. And popular books? Oh, man. Get ready to wait. I can get most things through interlibrary loan, but takes a week or two at best to get here. Too long unless you're a patient dude. I love libraries because free stuff is truly awesome, but I'm intrigued by the ability to get a recommendation from someone and then sit down to read the book a few minutes later.

duckilama wrote:
The only reason not to sell though would be because the person wanted to look at it on the bookshelf....and that doesn't work very well on the Kindle.

I just want to reiterate the false assumption here.
Some people read books more than once.
I've read every single Discworld novel at least once.
I've read all of them except the witch books at least twice, though I have read *some* of the witch ones more than once.
I've read Pyramids, Thief of Time, Thud and others at least 4 times each. At least. Owning them has easily outweighed the cost of driving to a library, added up, for all the times I would have wanted to reread them.

Some folks don't reread books.
Some folks don't watch a movie more than once.
Some folks can't fathom rewatching a whole season of a TV show they already saw last year.

I am not one of those people. I reuse my media. Repeatedly.

I too am a multiple reader. I am also a used bookstore whore so any book I want to read again (after getting it from the library the first time ) I go find used.

I am not doubting the Kindle is a great little machine and stuff. I am simply saying it cannot be cheaper than the alternatives most people have available.

FYI, thanks to goodjer pounce, I already sold my K1, so you can stop with the PMs already! lol. I sold myself on it and preordered a K2.

I think he meant razors as in SHAVING razors... as in they give the razor away for free and get you with the cost of the blades

trip1eX wrote:

WEll I don't totally disagree with you. I mean look at NPD reports. It's expensive to get that data even though it is digital. Information has a price.

But saying pricing of textbooks has nothing to do with their format I think is at least half-way offbase. A big heavy text book costs alot to print and distribute. Alot more than a text-file would cost. IF anyone knows what it cost to print hardcover novels, for example, that would clear up the notion of fairly priced by quite a bit. HOwever it's obvious to me that there's a problem with pricing when say, Security Analysis is a $45 1000 page hardcover and a $45 Kindle text file.

It's more an indictment of the textbook market. I'm saying that it doesn't matter if it's text, or paperback, or hardcover. That manual I'm talking about costs $100+ bucks, because that's what they want to charge. You can see a similar structure for medical journals, the format doesn't tend to affect price. They have a captive market, and they're selling information, not People magazine, which you might want to read on the can. So they charge a premium.

Essentially, I'm saying certain markets ignore format. So in your case, it might make perfect sense for the .txt to cost the same.

trip1eX wrote:

Paperbacks like you buy at Walmart. The ~$5 buck ones. A Kindle version should be much cheaper and it isn't.

Paperbacks operate in a different sphere. Not every book goes through the hardcover phase, but the ones they do are sold that way until essentially they cease to sell. That's why the Da Vinci Code lasted like 5 years in hardcover. And there are a good amount of $5 Kindle books. Most of the $10 books are for newer books that would either only be offered in hardcover or trade paperback. And in both those cases you're getting it cheaper. A random sampling of mass market paperbacks (which are more like $6-8 now) that I'm staring at right now? The Road, $7.96 on the Kindle ($7.99 on Amazon). Color of Magic, $6.39 on the Kindle ($7.99 on Amazon). The Gunslinger, $6.39 on the Kindle ($10.36 on Amazon, and paperback no longer available).

Here's a quote from Rabbit when we first had this "how much does it cost to publish a book" discussion, from the first thread (Sorry, Rabbit.)

Rabbit wrote:

So, on the price thing. Standard rates for hardcover royalties are 10-15% off retail. So if the retail price printed on a hardcover best seller is 25, the publisher immediately pays 2.50 to the author. Marketing costs are generally equivalent on a new book. eBook rates (where established, I've seen some contracts where they weren't) are often double, which means you are still looking at a floor of 3 bucks or so. So what's an "acceptable" amount above that 3 dollars to cover the very real costs of producing and publishing a major hardback-level title, both for the publisher and the retailer.

Traditional retailing markup (so-called Keystone) is 50%. So If Amazon sells a book for 10 bucks, they'd look to pay $5. I have no idea what's actually in the mix here, but I suspect its VASTLY less than that, and they might even be takign a loss on the best seller list. My point is just that the book business (like most art retailing) has always had massive margins vs. royalties. All this "give me a paperback for a dollar" stuff is simply not in the realm of rationality.

So let's guess that this is still true, and it costs $3 to make a book, not even counting production costs. If you want a book for below $5, is that even covering the very real costs of electronic content production/delivery? Selling a book with at $4 means that $3 is immediately eaten up by costs in making the book that are non-printing related. Now factor in the author getting 25% of that. Forty cents compared to $2.50 in the above example. And the publisher's profit is .60 cents. Not a very compelling case for making books, if you ask me.

And bringing Walmart pricing into any discussion like this is suspect, because they purposefully price their stuff at or below cost to draw in customers, who will then hopefully buy other crap they sell. The standard cost of a mass-market paperback is $7.99, even on Amazon.

trip1eX wrote:

I don't think subsidization is unusual at all. Look at videogame consoles. Look at razors.

You've provided two examples where the cost of content is very high, and are also requesting cheaper books at the same time. That "free" Razor comes with a contract, and if you cancel early they more than recoup its cost from you. If they did it like they do the 360 or PS3, books would have to cost more, not less. That's how those companies are making their money. So if you would rather pay more for books, then a subsidized Kindle makes sense. If you want to pay less, the Kindle would have to cost more.

trip1eX wrote:

I don't think it's naive. Imo it's naive to think their initial pricing is their best pricing. It's naive to think they publishers aren't using this transition to grab a bigger piece of the pie. And it's naive to think that big b&m retailers aren't also keeping digital media prices artificially high.

I never claimed it was the best, just practical, and even understandable. And I think I've pointed out in several ways that considering the publisher, they may actually be losing "pie". So I still find the idea to be naive, and mine to be ponderingly cautious. And as for B&M, considering the rumblings of Borders going bankrupt, that would leave Barnes & Noble and Walmart as the biggest chains, and I cannot even begin to understand how they'd want Amazon's digital content to cost more, driving further sales into their stores and adoption rates to rise much more slowly. Amazon, much like Netflix, it in direct competition to brick and mortar.

trip1eX wrote:

Who said anything about recouping investment? But if you want to compare the price of paper content to digital content then you have to try and measure the true costs for both formats. There is a big used book market and one can easily share a paper book with a friend or resell a hardcover and these are opportunity costs that have to be accounted for in any sane price comparison between the two.

Look at pricing of media the last few decades and I think there are at least a few examples of where pricing was initially too high and probably no examples of where pricing was initially too low.

I that would probably ignore how technology costs tend to level out, which is influenced by several factors unrelated to the price being "too high" (though I won't argue that it can't be an influence.) Lots of things are involved including manufacturing costs decreasing, licensing deals changing, etc. In a lot of ways, that initial high cost even paves the way for the technology being further researched and costing less in the future.

trip1eX wrote:

I disagree with your first sentence. I think cheaper digital content pricing is only solved by raising the ire of book publishers. It's only solved by voting with your dollars. You don't think the move to iTunes and piracy didn't bring about Hulu? IF people are happy to pay the prices Kindle books are at now then publishers will have no reason to charge less. So as much as I like the Kindle 2.0 I don't want to enter into a business model that seems more expensive than the way I read now. Granted I'm not a big release-day hardcover book reader, but I do read and I do like the idea of not having as many books on the shelf and reading newspapers from the Kindle's screen. I just think pricing is too high for myself and for the Kindle to really take off.

No, I think Hulu was brought about by an ingenious examination of advertising vs. content, almost mimicking how television even works now. I think it was brought about as a direct competitor to iTunes, which involves the forces of an industry in conflict more than any ABC executive ponder the complaints of a relatively small group of individuals complaining about how much Lost costs on iTunes. And I know iTunes was doing great before Hulu showed up, and by your logic, it should have then never been invented. I also think the development of reliable streaming technology and an easy-to-navigate interface all came together in a perfect storm to provide digital content for free with advertising online.

But I'm okay with the pricing not being for everyone, and I agree that you're right, you vote with your dollars in a lot of ways. But in a lot of ways I can't see how comments like "for the Kindle to really take off" keep showing up, as it continues to sell. If it sells another 500,000 units this year, in a country where 30-40 million people are illiterate, and only about half of those left read regularly, depending how you define "regular", then 1 million people in 2 years isn't taking off, it's downright took. I keep using Blackberry as an example, but that would be an even higher percentage that Blackberry had in the early years, because many more people own cell phones than read. But I think this can be hard to see because people are viewing eBooks are an attempt to replace paper books, which is a flawed assumption similar to people believing television would end the film industry. Maybe it will change it, over the decades. But the sky is hardly falling on us musty book lovers.

I knew I'd be getting a Kindle this year, it was just a matter of when. I was on the fence & considering holding out until my birthday, but after looking at the Kindle vs Hardcover vs Mobipocket prices of at least 6 books being published over the next 4 months, my order went in today.

Unfortunately, I share a local library with QStone and he's right, it sucks! It sucks so badly that I'm probably one of their major contributors of paperback books. I'll easily go through at least 8 books in a month and the ones that I wouldn't read again, get sent to the library at the end of the year and written off on my taxes (and it makes a big difference). I also keep books I will reread and will get nostalgic from time and go find a book I enjoyed before.

If anyone is wondering, the books I priced were for new hardcover publications set to release between now and July.
List Price/Amazon/Mobipocket/Kindle
$25-30/$14-19/$25-30(aka List Price)/$10.

For those keeping score, Mobipocket is owned by Amazon. So that's a 150-200% markup for making something available for a non-Kindle eReader.

I don't think this is a re-post -- check out this article by John Siracusa on the history and future of e-books which, in typical Siracusa fashion is comprehensive and very readable, and benefits from his experience with and extensive knowledge of the field.

RedJen wrote:
Unfortunately, I share a local library with QStone and he's right, it sucks! It sucks so badly that I'm probably one of their major contributors of paperback books.

Library system, sure, but you don't really come to Cary to visit the library, do you? Cary library closes at 5pm on Saturdays and is closed all day Sunday. IMAGE(http://rps.net/QS/Images/Smilies/rolleyes.gif) Plus, it's tiny.

SommerMatt wrote:
I think he meant razors as in SHAVING razors... as in they give the razor away for free and get you with the cost of the blades


Still not a valid comparison, however.

To make it valid, you'd have to have Amazon be one of the single biggest book publishers in the world, you'd have to have Amazon's published books ONLY work with Kindle, and you'd have to have the e-Ink degrade over time, so that you have to rebuy a book before you finish reading it. Maybe after every chapter, depending on how thick you(r beard) are(is).

You can't put a Schick blade on a Gilette handle.

Imagine buying a eBook reader that couldn't read 75-80% of the books on the market at all.

Hey, let's look at the king of consumer electronics.....
Does Apple subsidize the iPod to get you to buy expensive music?
Do they subsidize the iPod to get you to buy cheap music?

No, to both. The money is in the device. The content is a way to get you to buy the device. Apparently repeatedly.