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Oprah Seal of Approval for the Kindle and What It Means...

Oprah Winfrey has enormous consumer influence, particularly with the reading public. There is not an Oprah Book Club book that hasn’t enjoyed bestseller status for an extended period of time. A mere mention of a product on Oprah can “make” a retailer. So it was with no small sense of wonder that I received the news that Oprah would not only endorse the Kindle but devote a whole segment of her show to it.

Mike Cane has a blow by blow description of what went down (everyone in the audience got one and was allowed to download a free book – any book – during the show). Oprah also announced that an Oprah related coupon (OPRAHWINFREY) would be good for $50 off on the Kindle until November 1, 2008.

This is mostly good news for ebook readers as a whole and real coup for Amazon. It’s good for ebook readers because raised interest in ebooks will put pressure on publishers to make all of its books available in ebook format in a timely fashion. To date, St. Martin’s Press, Tor, and Dorchester have no or little ebook presence much to the great frustration to readers. In fact, there have been numerous complaints regarding Tor’s ebook giveaways whereby they gave away free ebooks but failed to make the sequels to those books available for purchase in ebook format. I’m completely frustrated with Simon & Schuster refusing to release its ebooks until a week after the paper release date. Note to S&S, this only delays a purchase. It does not force me to the store to buy the dead tree version.

Mainstream publishing has a long way in adopting digital strategies that will avail itself of existing technology and a changing consumer and someone with the market influence of Oprah can go a long way in helping to push mainstream publishers into the new century of digitization.

On the downside of the Oprah-ification of the Kindle is that it feeds more power into the monopolistic interests of Amazon. Amazon has bought Mobipocket to create a new proprietary format for its ebook reading device, Kindle. It bought Booksurge, a POD printing company, and its pricing scheme punishes those publishers who do not use Booksurge. Publishers fear that a powerful Amazon will lead to Amazon dictating pricing schemes much like Apple was able to dictate the $.99 songs to the music industry. Making everyone buy the Kindle in order to read ebooks would be bad for the ebook industry in part because Amazon doesn’t really have any idea what makes a good ebook reader in terms of hardware design and because any diminished competition is bad for an industry.

Amazon seems to be following the iTunes/iPod model but iTunes/iPod allowed for a user to take her existing music library and convert it to use on the iPod. iTunes/iPod has also moved away from a proprietary format that can only be played on the iPod. This is because most digital music is sold without DRM meaning that a song bought at iTunes can be played on virtually any digital music player on the market. This is also true for songs sold at Amazon, Walmart and other online digital music vendors. Competition was, in large part, what led to the stripping of DRM from music because the iPod market share was so overwhelming (and still is) that the only way to sell digital music and make money from it was to sell it without DRM.

Amazon refuses to release its Kindle numbers. Some speculate that is because the Kindle sales are weak. In an anecdotal confirmation of that, one bestselling author shared with me that Kindle sales represented the 4th most sales. The breakdown was as follows:

  • Mobipocket (nearly 7x as many sales as the Kindle sales)
  • eReader
  • Ms Lit
  • Kindle
  • Adobe

Author friend did say that emails about her “not in ebook format books” came mostly from Kindle readers, so obviously Kindle interest and sales are growing.

I hope that publishers take heed from the evolving digital music market and recognize that a sole provider for ebooks is stifling for the market. Indeed, only by eliminating DRM and make ebooks cross platform compatible will the ebook really benefit from the Oprah push. An Amazon with monopolistic control over ebooks will be bad for the industry and bad for the readers.

Next week: My rebuttal to Joe Esposito’s post. Email me your thoughts on that topic via jane @ dearauthor.com.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

63 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 04:31:21

    An Amazon with monopolistic control over ebooks will be bad for the industry and bad for the readers.

    Yup. Not to mention the fact while the Kindle and Kindle products are unavailable outside the US, there’s literally a world of potential readers we authors can’t service in a format they would desperately love to own. *I* want a Kindle. I want Kindle content. Fat chance of that. Book stores and catalogues in Australia are *dire* (it’s almost as pathetic as Singapore for book shopping). I need e-content.

    I do wonder though, with this upsurge of interest by the big players in epublishing, how long the ‘real’ authors will be able to sneer at the e-authors. If hardbacks by ‘real’ authors (naming no names) priced at $19.95 are going for $4.95, less than a similarly sized e-novel, and the e-author getting 40% royalty on that price, shouldn’t we be laughing at them for sticking with the over-priced, under paying and performing format instead?

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  2. (Jān)
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 07:17:21

    I was reading some friends’ blogs today and saw this:

    “Oprah is showing some gadgets, and one is for reading books. I WANT ONE!!! It’s a pain having to deal with real books sometimes, especially if you are trying to read lying down. But they cost so much, I guess I better start saving my money.”

    Sounds like some people aren’t even aware that there are ebooks. At least her raising the public awareness is a good thing.

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  3. Jessica
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 08:08:41

    I don’t know – I love my iPod and my .99 cent songs. so far monopolization has worked for me as a consumer of music. But I suppose there’s the threat that, like Walmart, once Apple gets my business in this way, I wil be stuck paying whatever higher price it foists on me later, and I will have no one to turn to.

    (I am looking forward to your response to Esposito. Who ever heard of the argument that having easier, cheaper and instant access to your favorite products will make you buy fewer of them? Has he ever heard of the porn industry? Yeah, it did so much worse with the advent of the VCR, and the internet just killed it. Jeeesh.)

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  4. Anne Douglas
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 08:12:46

    Eppie judging is going on at the moment, and I’ve been reading every moment I’ve got to get my judging list finished. So that’s meant that I’ve dragged my Sony reader with me everywhere. I’ve received a surprising amount of interest in it.

    First: What’s that? An eBook reader? I didn’t know they existed. How cool is that!
    Second: Is that a Kindle? No? A Sony? And I can buy one in Target now? How cool is that?
    Third: Does that work like a Kindle? Not quite? Oh :(. But I can’t use a Kindle overseas or everywhere in the USA? Oh! I didn’t realise that! And I can only download kindle only files that I can’t read anywhere else? Oh :( Sony you said? At target? I’ll have to go look.

    Hubby has the least amount of interest in eBooks as could be possible, but he is very impressed with my Sony, found it very easy on the eyes, both from the screen and case output. He’s been talking it up places too – even though he’s never used it ROFL! Who knows maybe the pretty packaging will finally get him to make the swap.

    this might be the only time I’ll agree with Ann, but I’m with you on this point

    I do wonder though, with this upsurge of interest by the big players in epublishing, how long the ‘real' authors will be able to sneer at the e-authors. If hardbacks by ‘real' authors (naming no names) priced at $19.95 are going for $4.95, less than a similarly sized e-novel, and the e-author getting 40% royalty on that price, shouldn't we be laughing at them for sticking with the over-priced, under paying and performing format instead?

    You see quotes like this on agent blogs:

    2. 85% of all books get less than $2000 in marketing from the publisher. And more than 85% of all books sell less than 1000 copies.

    And like you, I have to wonder why eBook authors are seen as the red-headed stepchild?

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  5. Keishon
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 08:44:42

    I am thrilled that Oprah is endorsing ebooks. I think or would have preferred that she dedicated her show detailing the new advances in reading and focused on ebooks and it’s advantages to readers and available devices on the market. I’ll email my thoughts on the other as he is completely wrong.

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  6. Angela James
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 09:22:35

    I travel a lot, and while traveling, I use the Kindle. I get stopped everywhere and asked about the Kindle. The people next to me on airplanes, in the airport, at the hotel, in the bookstore (yes, I take it to the bookstore so I can look at books, look up the ones I want on the Amazon Kindle store and have a sample chapter sent to myself so I can decide later if I want to purchase.)

    The whole purpose of me owning both the Kindle and the Sony (and the Ebookwise) is so I can travel with them to conferences, pull them out and let people fondle them, ask questions about them and decide if they think they’d actually like one. I would say that doing that has hand sold a minimum of 3 or 4 ereaders every conference, at the very least. I hear “I’m asking for that for my birthday/Christmas” every conference.

    And you can bet that I used “Oprah’s new favorite thing is the Kindle and it’s on sale” every time I was given a microphone this weekend from Friday morning on, or every time someone said “can I see the Kindle” or “which ebook reader do you like?”

    I might not necessarily think the Kindle is the best reader out there, but I’ll take any advantage I can get to encourage people to buy more ereaders and buy more ebooks.

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  7. Midknyt
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 09:24:59

    I’m glad it’s getting the press, as that can only help, but I don’t like the Kindle only one that Oprah seems to be doing. I didn’t know eInk and readers existed until I saw the Kindle dominating the Amazon homepage, and then through looking up other things discovered that there are other devices out there and ended up happily with my non-fugly Sony.

    I’m just concerned about it’s Kindle focus and if that’ll hurt those other devices and/or my ability to get my ebooks in lit format.

    I wonder if they gave her one for free to try out? Not to be the cynic or anything, but it would seem a little odd she wouldn’t bring up a variety of the readers out there (although I’ve never watched her show, so that’s just a random assumption). It could be a way for them to drum up business about the supposed Kindle 2.0.

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  8. Jennifer Estep
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 09:39:20

    I actually don’t think Oprah has quite as much pull as she used to. A couple of years ago, it seemed like any time she endorsed a book, it was an “event” — “OMG! Oprah endorsed a new book! Must have now!” Now, it’s kind of like “Oprah endorsed a new book. Meh.” Same thing with her Christmas show where she lists her favorite things for the year.

    I only tried one book she endorsed and didn’t particularly enjoy it, so I quit following her recommendations. But I will admit to buying and loving some pajamas she had on the Christmas show one year. :-)

    That being said, an Oprah endorsement is still pretty huge. Kindle sales will certainly improve, and it might get more folks interested in e-books in general. But will it last? That, I think, is the real question. Because people get bored with things, especially gadgets. We always want the latest, greatest thing. If someone else comes out with a reader that’s better/cooler than Kindle, then I think Kindle will be yesterday’s news, no matter what Oprah thinks of it.

    But will Oprah’s recommendation make me buy one? No. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer paper books. Reading on the computer = work for me. Curling up with a book on the couch = priceless.

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  9. roslynholcomb
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 09:44:47

    No, someone gave her a Kindle as a gift, and she loved it. She said that she’d tried e-book readers in the past, but loved the ease of use of this one.

    Esposito clearly doesn’t understand the way people buy books. More than once I’ve found a great book and gone to the bookstore to get the author’s backlist only to find that they don’t have it. Of course they can order it, but then you have to the store AGAIN. Given that I usually have my son in tow, multiple trips to the bookstore can be a PITA. Not to mention having time for buyer’s remorse and guilt to set in.

    The immediacy of Amazon and other online retailers totally obliterates that. If I buy one book from an author, I can immediately buy her backlist, without time to think about how much money I’m spending. It’s the ultimate for impulse buying. I hardly ever go in tree stores anymore for this very reason. Most of the time they don’t have the books I like. Online retailers always have the book in stock and you can get it instantly. What’s not to like?

    I probably won’t be getting an e-reader anytime soon, though I do have my eye on that little Asus computer (Thanks Jane for the heads up on that). But I can’t imagine that Oprah’s endorsement can be anything but a plus for e-book readers and e-books, period.

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  10. Emmy
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 10:02:32

    Not even Oprah can make me come out the pocket over $300 for an item that only reads limited formats(most of which are not the formats that the majority of my ebooks are in), charges $10 for ebooks, and makes you pay to blog and read newspapers/magazines that are available for free online.

    I’m wondering how much of Oprah is for sale. It couldn’t possibly have been a random pick, because Amazon was ready with the Oprah discount and the immediate news release that she had picked a Kindle as one of her fave things. There was obviously some sort of marketing deal in place. I don’t know how much her endorsement will help sales, particularly with companies going out of business and the jobless rate being as high as it is. I’m not sure her average viewer is going to have the spare cash for the Kindle and a good list of ebooks.

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  11. Crystal-Rain Love
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 10:25:54

    I get all my e-books downloaded directly to my computer through Adobe. I don’t have the $ to buy an expensive reader. If/when they come down on their prices, I’ll consider it.

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  12. Seressia
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 11:47:36

    It couldn't possibly have been a random pick, because Amazon was ready with the Oprah discount and the immediate news release that she had picked a Kindle as one of her fave things. There was obviously some sort of marketing deal in place.

    No big mystery.

    Basically, Oprah finds something she loves. If she wants to use it on her Favorite Things show, her people contact their people to see if they will give the product to her audience. Her shows are pretaped, I think a week out or so? SO of course, with Amazon supplying Kindles to her audience, they would be ready with a press release announcing the Kindle as an Oprah pick.

    For me, the Oprah discount still doesn’t bring the Kindle into acceptable range. It would be one thing if it was a multifunction device. I could spend the same $$ on a mini laptop and get computing and ebook functionality. In fact, my Yule present to myself will be one of the minis, hopefully in a nice bright color. (That HP Clutch is sweet, but given that its predecessor is $750, I think VT will be out of my price range. Wah!)

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  13. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 11:57:22

    Maybe the reaction to being told my books are ebooks will now be less “So…it’s not, like, a real book?” and more “OMG, like on Oprah?”. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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  14. Miki
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 12:39:48

    This announcement worries me that Amazon will get more clout with publishers to release only at Amazon, or to offer a “normal” price at Amazon and inflated prices elsewhere.

    Right now, St. Martin’s releases many of it’s ebook releases at about twice what’s being charged at Amazon. ($14 versus $7.99). For examples, compare prices on Janet Evanovich, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Cheyenne McCray…

    And while I seldom buy paper books any more, when I did, I was seldom willing to pay full price. While Amazon is currently discounting “hardback” and “trade paperback” books, the “mass market” paperbacks are full priced.

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  15. carolyn jean
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 12:43:43

    I was pretty surprised Oprah went for the Kindle like that. Surely she has heard of monopolistic policies around it. I guess she can’t think of everything, but still. I was not pleasantly surprised.

    To be honest, when I saw that, my first thought was, this will be really good for the erotica market.

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  16. theo
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 13:13:07

    Since I’m probably going to need to duck and run when I’m done with this comment…

    Oprah doesn’t dictate to me what I need to buy in books, readers or anything else out there and I personally (yes, I realize this is not everyone! Probably just me) find those who blindly follow her ‘recommendations’ rather silly. But she does have a huge fan base that does exactly that. She points, they buy, so I’ve no doubt Amazon feels they’ve made a great coup with this and they probably have, with her followers.

    I’ll stick to books. I’m too tactile and interactive for an ereader though I do think they’re a good idea in certain circumstances. So, Oprah can point and command all she wants, I’ll stick to what I like best.

    **ducks and runs now**

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  17. Lori
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 14:09:09

    A $300 ebook reader in an economy that’s tanking just doesn’t strike me as very realistic. I want an ebook reader but until my paycheck doesn’t bleed from how much I’m hurting it (stretching isn’t that easy) Oprah can recommend the moon and it won’t make a huge difference.

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  18. DS
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 15:04:37

    I’m not an Oprah fan but I’m glad this popped up. I was trying to think of a good present for my nephew (his parents always buy him all the new gaming stuff)– yeah, he should be wickedly spoiled, but he’s not. He likes to read and I am sure that the Kindle would be perfect for him now that he’s older.

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  19. Ann Somerville
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 15:26:03

    this might be the only time I'll agree with Ann

    Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you!

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  20. ME2
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 15:43:11

    Let’s not be so quick to laud Ms. Winfrey. She isn’t endorsing (ALL) ebooks/e-readers. She is endorising a/the Kindle.

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  21. Jessica
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 16:21:30

    Let's not be so quick to laud Ms. Winfrey. She isn't endorsing (ALL) ebooks/e-readers. She is endorising a/the Kindle.

    Good point. Really. You would think Amazon was not only first to the finish line, but the only competitor in the race — indeed, invented the sport!

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  22. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 16:28:16

    No, but she’s bringing awareness to her viewers that readers can have instant gratification in a digital format. Once they drink the Kool-aid, they can start trying different flavors.

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  23. J L Wilson
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 17:04:13

    I took my Kindle with me to a booksigning and then to a friend’s house, to test it (she lives in the country and wanted to be sure it would download okay). I downloaded a book while there, and she promptly bought one. Since then she’s shown it to a dozen people, and 4 have bought one. They live in a small town and there’s no easy access to a book store. This is great for them.

    I love mine and plan to carry it with me to wait in line to vote next week. I figure I may as well get some reading in while waiting!

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  24. Dotty
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 18:32:09

    I don’t think you can compare Amazon to ITunes. The big difference is price, when ITunes introduced music they set a price that was realistic for everyone to purchase and reflected the lower cost involved in digital. To the best of my knowledge they didn’t buy up competitors and take over the marketplace, they created a new one. They have dominated the digital music market via the ipod for a while now and yet they still charge the same price for a song. I make no apologies, I am an Apple junkie and read my ebooks on a Macbook and listen to my audiobooks on a ipod, but I will criticise if I feel its earned. Apple looked at the marketplace and set a price for its music that basically makes pirating a waste of time and makes it easy for everyone to get music, I hope one day they decide ebooks are a good idea, because I know they will do it better. As Anne said at the beginning, you can’t buy Kindle and download outside the US, but all the ebooks they sell are in that format, I shudder to think of the lost international sales because of this restriction but I’m sure they did their figures and decided it didn’t matter. At least when Apple introduced iTunes, iPods were available worldwide, and you have always been able to load other formats on to them and play your own music, the only restrictions were on songs you purchased from iTunes. Correct me if I’m wrong but if I own an ebook in a different format, I can’t read it on a Kindle, so I think I will stick to my laptop.
    Having said all that, if having the Kindle on Oprah elevates awareness of ebooks and gets people to look into them and see what’s available, well that’s spreading the word so that has to be good. I think most people when purchasing an item over $100 will do a little research so they might find alternatives which are more user friendly.

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  25. Sandy D.
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 19:00:19

    Am I the only one that goes to the library or paperbackswap or half.com (or amazon or one of the many independent booksellers that do used books on addall.com) when I want an author’s backlist?

    I only justify buying new paperbacks (and the occasional hardcover) by telling myself that I will re-sell it or at least swap it after I’m done with it. I just don’t have the money to buy all new books all of the time, or the shelf space to keep up with my consumption. And I find very few books good enough to keep and re-read someday, anyway.

    So even if ebooks are cheaper (and they’re not cheaper than most used books!), I can’t re-sell them or swap them. Add this to the initial e-reader device investment, and it puts me off ebooks quite a bit.

    Now if someone *gave* me a device and lots of free books, I’d be happy to carry it with me and read it often. Though I’d miss being able to stick post-its on on all the pages I want to comment on (or do e-readers have this capability, too?), I would definitely enjoy *not* carrying a book or two in my bag all of the time.

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  26. Stop Smoking
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 19:14:42

    no doubt, she puts it on the map big time! am curious to see if it will catch on though – there is nothing like reading a real book…

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  27. theo
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 19:27:13

    Interestingly enough, last month I got an offer from Amazon. As a Prime member (which I probably won’t renew but that’s another story) I could order a Kindle and try it, risk free, for 30 days. At the end of that 30 days, if I didn’t return it, they’d charge me for it. Made me wonder if they were feeling the heat from the other ereaders.

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  28. Lleeo
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 19:48:26

    I’m sorry if this question seems extremely self-explanatory but I’ve never bought an ebook and I was wondering about ebook readers reasons for buying and reading them. The Ja(y)nes talk about ebooks here a lot and I’m getting curious about them.

    For example;

    -Is is cheaper for authors to release ebooks?

    -Is it cheaper for readers to buy ebooks?

    I can see where it would be convenient to store a lot of your books in electronic format. It’s also obviously better for the environment.

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  29. Jacqueline George
    Oct 26, 2008 @ 20:20:21

    I’ve just had a Bebook ebook reader for my birthday, a present from my family, and it is wonderful! (The Bebook one is rather like the Sony but better, and definitely better than the Kindle.) Being non-US, we couldn’t buy the Kindle even if we did want to encourage Amazon’s grab for control of the ebook market. And if you haven’t bought a Kindle and don’t have a US address on your credit card, you can’t buy Kindle books anyway.

    Never mind, there are plenty of other outlets for buying ebooks and I guess that prices for mainstream books will inevitably come down. The production costs for an ebook are miniscule, and even if you add a traditional publicity budget, the big publishers must still be making over $15+ per copy – and that’s plain greedy!

    http://www.jacquelinegeorgewriter.com

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  30. DS
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 08:07:19

    If you own a Kindle it pays to go the Kindle books section of Amazon and sort the books from lowest to highest price. If anyone is offering a free book it will appear first. I just checked and M. J. Rose is offering free copies of

    The Reincarnationist

    .

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  31. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 08:19:38

    Just a heads up for anybody suffering from Kindle-envy due to the free books they’re raking in, The Reincarnationist is being offered free by ebooks.eharlequin.com (you need an account)in whatever formats they have until the end of the month. If the coupon code isn’t there, it’s on MJRose.com.

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  32. Cat
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:06:25

    I have the Sony Portable reader and really like it. There’s definitely nothing like the smell and feel of a real book, however, I am a speed reader. I can finish an average book in about 4 hours. The stacks of books piled up make me feel guilty about all the paper its printed on. I feel like Im saving trees now :)
    Incidently, I bought mine on amazon using my US address with http://www.bongoUS.com. They ship anything and everything right over to me in the UK.

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  33. Jane
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:21:26

    @DS: What’s interesting about The Reincarnationist is that while MJ Rose is giving it away for free, it is also now the no. 1 bestseller at the Harlequin website.

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  34. Azure
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:45:05

    Thanks for the info, Shannon! I saw the mentions of The Reincarnationist being free for Kindles, but hadn’t realized it was also available in other formats.

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  35. JulieLeto
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:54:55

    I got my Kindle two weeks ago and brought it with me this weekend to Disney. Wow! I had downloaded a manuscript from a friend and was able to read it on my Kindle where ever I was and when I was finished, I was able to shop for a new book while sitting in a restaurant. I find it a little slow turning pages and going back and forth to re-read something, but I think it’s because it was a converted manuscript and not a book. I’m downloading my first book this week.

    What I like is that I’m not downloading everything. I’m not making impulse buys, which is exactly why I bought it. I know this may not be good for authors, but I am downloading a LOT of sample pages. I have about ten downloaded right now and I peruse those when I’m in the mood and will likely buy one when I finish the ARC I just got in the mail from my agent and which I’ve been looking forward to forever.

    I read the Reincarnationist as an ARC months before it’s release…has it already been reviewed here? Because I’d love to discuss the book. I’ve been dying to know someone who’d read it so I could ask questions about things I was confused about. I enjoyed it, but at the end, I kept thinking I missed something.

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  36. JulieLeto
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:58:07

    Lleo, why I bought an ebook reader: space. I’m running out of space. Also, since I don’t go to bookstores all that often (surprisingly) I tend to “overbuy” while I’m there, buying on impulse and then the books sit in my office unread and I give them away brand new. While this is great for authors, it’s hurting my bottom line. I want to stop buying books I have little chance of ever actually reading!

    So now, I download sample pages to remember which books caught my interest, but I don’t actually buy until I’m ready to read. It saves me a lot of money and space!

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  37. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 10:02:53

    @DS: What's interesting about The Reincarnationist is that while MJ Rose is giving it away for free, it is also now the no. 1 bestseller at the Harlequin website.

    When they did that promo, giving away a free ebook in several different lines, last year (?) they showed up on the bestseller list, as well. It must measure a book’s passage through the shopping cart, rather than dollars spent.

    And you’re welcome, Azure. I’ve been so jealous of the free books Kindle owners have been getting that I jumped on this one. Plus, I have a copy of the sequel, so it worked out perfectly.

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  38. KCfla
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 10:48:42

    A $300 ebook reader in an economy that's tanking just doesn't strike me as very realistic. I want an ebook reader but until my paycheck doesn't bleed from how much I'm hurting it (stretching isn't that easy) Oprah can recommend the moon and it won't make a huge difference.

    I’m with you Lori. With both mine and my DH’s paychecks coming up waaaaayyyy shorter than this time last year- the e-book reader that I had *thought* to put on my Christmas wish-list has gone the way of the economy. Which is to say sailing right down the tubes.

    $300+ dollars is just too much to spend right now- I don’t care if it’s the best. thing. ever!

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  39. Oprah and the Kindle: Two perspectives | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 12:50:04

    [...] “..only by eliminating DRM and make e-books cross platform compatible will the e-book really benefit from the Oprah push. An Amazon with monopolistic control over e-books will be bad for the industry and bad for the readers.” – Dear Author. [...]

  40. oh, to be a favorite thing « Collection Developments @ Sno-Isle
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 13:27:06

    [...] technology ignorant does he think we are?!).  Jane over at “Dear Author” provides some alternative viewpoints to all the gushing.  perhaps the Oprah endorsement and discount means we’ll actually see [...]

  41. Anna
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 13:57:13

    I’m hoping that because of this Oprah endorsement, Sony reduces their price or offers a limited time coupon. I’ve asked hubby for the Sony eReader for Christmas. With the economy tanking, a coupon would be very welcome! :)

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  42. Jane
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 14:05:47

    My guess is that Oprah really likes the instant availability that Kindle provides. She doesn’t need to have an assistant buy a book and download it for her. She can do that herself. I also wonder if the anonymity of the Kindle appeals to her. Only she will know what she reads. She and Jeff Bezos, of course.

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  43. veinglory
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 14:11:14

    Theo, it is my understanding that any consumer can return an undamaged product within 30 days for a refund–so is that really a special deal? Maybe I had that wrong; I never return anything.

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  44. Brooke
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 14:40:42

    Am I the only one that goes to the library or paperbackswap or half.com (or amazon or one of the many independent booksellers that do used books on addall.com) when I want an author's backlist?

    I only justify buying new paperbacks (and the occasional hardcover) by telling myself that I will re-sell it or at least swap it after I'm done with it. I just don't have the money to buy all new books all of the time, or the shelf space to keep up with my consumption. And I find very few books good enough to keep and re-read someday, anyway.

    Ditto to this!!!
    Though i think it would be really nice to have one of these, i cannot justify the price ON TOP of the price for books and the limited selection.

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  45. theo
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 14:49:19

    Theo, it is my understanding that any consumer can return an undamaged product within 30 days for a refund-so is that really a special deal? Maybe I had that wrong; I never return anything.

    Nope, not in my ‘book’ ;)

    I got the feeling that what they were really hoping was, people would order it ‘risk free’ for those 30 days and then forget to return it. Once charged, people sometimes figure ‘what the heck, I sort of wanted it and now I have it, might as well keep it’.

    I’m just not an ereader person. Like I said, if I traveled a lot or there was some other reason where carrying half a dozen books would be ridiculous, I can certainly appreciate the convenience of a reader. But I’m just too tactile and an old fashioned girl I guess. They just don’t appeal to me for my ‘every day’ book and that’s a lot of money to spend to use only a few times a year, for me.

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  46. Dusk Peterson
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 15:12:42

    Lleeo asked:

    “Is is cheaper for authors to release ebooks?”

    It can certainly be, and layout is usually easier than with a print book.

    “Is it cheaper for readers to buy ebooks?”

    Depends on the publisher. Some presses price e-books the same as hardbacks, which is just insane. Some small presses price e-books cheaper than mass-market paperbacks, which makes them a bargain.

    One nice thing about e-books is that one can publish shorter works. It wouldn’t make financial sense to publish a novelette in print, because the binding would drive the cost up so much, but a novelette in e-book format works fine.

    I read e-books mainly because I’m partially sighted, so I need to read in very large print. But having so many of my books in one place (my computer) is certainly nice.

    As for the Kindle, I have mixed feelings about it: my own stories are Kindleized, so naturally I want them to do well, but I agree that an Amazon monopoly would be a very bad thing. Amazon is greedy enough as it is; anyone using their Digital Text Platform to produce Kindle books has to fork over two-thirds of the books’ profit to Amazon.

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  47. Mac
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 15:56:27

    That Bebook mentioned upthread might be the only eReader that has seriously tempted me (I was leaning to Sony) — it seems to be open-format!

    Now if I could just find a reader that would also play my audiobooks if I wanted to rest my eyes/listen to Neil Gaiman’s honeyed voice…

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  48. Lleeo
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 15:58:29

    Lleo, why I bought an ebook reader: space. I'm running out of space. Also, since I don't go to bookstores all that often (surprisingly) I tend to “overbuy” while I'm there … So now, I download sample pages to remember which books caught my interest, but I don't actually buy until I'm ready to read. It saves me a lot of money and space!

    Thanks, Julie. I was just really curious about everyone’s reasons for starting to read them all of a sudden. And I definitely hear you about the space thing.

    The most interesting facet to ebooks I’ve heard so far, actually, is that you get to read sample chapters. Not all authors have websites or offer sample pages, so that is a definite bonus to me. And the fact that you get access to free books sometimes is also amazing!

    “Is is cheaper for authors to release ebooks?”

    It can certainly be, and layout is usually easier than with a print book.

    “Is it cheaper for readers to buy ebooks?”

    Depends on the publisher. Some presses price e-books the same as hardbacks, which is just insane. Some small presses price e-books cheaper than mass-market paperbacks, which makes them a bargain.

    Thanks as well, Dusk. There would be a definite incentive for me to buy ebooks cheaper than hardbacks, besides the obvious convenience of instantly having access to the book I want instead of having to go to the bookstore to get it. :)

    And it would be great if authors are writing shorter pieces in between their longer novels that readers would have quick and easy access to these shorter stories.

    Am I the only one that goes to the library or paperbackswap or half.com (or amazon or one of the many independent booksellers that do used books on addall.com) when I want an author's backlist?

    I only justify buying new paperbacks (and the occasional hardcover) by telling myself that I will re-sell it or at least swap it after I'm done with it. I just don't have the money to buy all new books all of the time, or the shelf space to keep up with my consumption. And I find very few books good enough to keep and re-read someday, anyway.

    I should do this more often methinks, Sandy. ;D

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  49. Mac
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 16:00:43

    (Oh, they do play mp3s!!)

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  50. Jessica
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 18:19:57

    Jane wrote:

    My guess is that Oprah really likes the instant availability that Kindle provides. She doesn't need to have an assistant buy a book and download it for her. She can do that herself.

    What a life when “easy” means “I don’t have to get my assistant to do it.”
    This just struck me as funny in a surreal way.

    I won’t have wireless Kindle access where I live, but I want an ereader so I can read books with suggestive covers (and content) and leave them around the house without my young children or nosy houseguests looking on.

    And yes, I do sell and buy books on Ebay or at my local used book seller for credit. It will be interesting to see for myself how my paperback habits change.

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  51. Azure
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 20:21:06

    I also wonder if the anonymity of the Kindle appeals to her. Only she will know what she reads. She and Jeff Bezos, of course.

    When I saw this, my first thought was, “Oprah reads something requiring anonymity??? You sure couldn’t tell from her book club choices!”

    (Not that I’m knocking Oprah’s book club choices. I’m just saying that I didn’t see something like The Billionaire Cowboy’s Secret Baby anywhere on her Kindle when she was showing it off on Friday.)

    I don’t have Kindle-envy even with all the free books they seem to get. I’m still feeling the burn from Amazon choosing to delete my digital library when they decided to get into the dedicated reader business.

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  52. AnotherRebecca
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 21:08:53

    Popular Mechanics mentioned the Kindle this month as well.

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  53. Mary Winter
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 00:52:45

    I must confess, I’ve been eyeing the Kindle a lot and the coupon code has made me think not only about purchasing it, but also about using my Bill Me Later account, which I just paid off because they were bought by ebay. :(

    We also have a space problem here for books, with both my SO and I being voracious readers (usually of big hard back nonfiction books plus lots of paperback goodness, LOL!)

    So I guess in a round-about-way (as in whee!coupon!) Oprah may be making me buy the Kindle.

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  54. Ecataromance.com » Blog Archive » A little of this and that…
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 11:22:15

    [...] by now I’m sure you’ve heard that Oprah (queen that she is) endorsed the Kindle. Woohoo! Someone needed to. Otherwise ebookreaders will always be on the back [...]

  55. Bonwilsky
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 12:32:39

    So how much power over the publishing industry does Amazon have? I was talking to my used bookstore owner who happens to be the largest seller of independent/ self-published books on the West Coast (I’m taking him at his word) and he basically told me that with the Kindle and with Amazon’s self-publishing program, they have the power to make or break any author by including them or excluding them from their site. That seemed like craziness right there, but is it true?

    If the Kindle weren’t so expensive and the ebooks expensive compared to my mass market books, I would probably be jumping on the bandwagon right now.

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  56. student
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 14:10:45

    Why did I pre-order the Sony PRS 700 when everything seems to be coming up Kindle? Simple: DRM (the ugly design didn’t help tho).

    With the Oprah discount, the Kindle is $100 cheaper than the new Sony Reader, and the Kindle has wi-fi, too. I don’t really care about the wi-fi, but I absolutely detest the idea of being tied to Amazon. I detest the idea of having to buy all my books from them, of them having direct wireless access to my reading device (my slight lust for the iPhone dimmed a bit when I heard about Apple’s killswitch, too), of them having a record of every book I’ve viewed and purchased. I’m concerned about PATRIOT act issues with the Kindle.

    When I plunk down my money for a reader, I want that to be the end of it. The company that made my DVD player or my TV doesn’t have anything to do with the shows and movies I watch. Why should the company that makes my eReader get to look over my shoulder at every book I read?

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  57. Yvonne
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 17:18:57

    I have the Ebookwise 150 and the Sony PRS500 and am looking to upgrade in the near future. The wifi aspect is not as issue with me-that’s what my laptop is for. The big bugaboo I have with Kindle is the fact that you are locked into using them for everything. I read a lot of m/m,erotica and ‘risque’ stuff. I would hate to have someone decide that what I am reading is ‘not appropriate’ and lock me out. I also dislike the fact that they make is seem that they are the only reader with a large library to choose from. Sony is missing the mark by not letting people know that you can download books from all over the web not just Sony.com. I work at Borders and talk to people about the reader every day. I make a point of telling them to shop around for the type books they want because different sites charge differently for the same book. I also let them know that I have never ordered a book from the Sony/Borders site and I read about 5-10 ebooks per week in addition to my paper addiction.

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  58. Angela James
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 17:26:39

    I’m confused by some of the last few comments, so though I’m not pushing the Kindle, I think it needs to be said again that you can own a Kindle, use it, and never purchase a single book through Amazon. I think I’ve bought a total of…three books from Amazon for my Kindle. The rest have come from a variety of different sources.

    As far as I know, there isn’t a reader on the market that locks you into buying only from their store, but of course they’re going to make it easiest to do so.

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  59. Jacqueline George
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 17:55:15

    Angela,

    The strong-arming does not work like that. The Kindle does accept some (many?) file types from outside. The trouble comes because Amazon is by far the largest ebook retailer and has decided to sell ONLY in their own format. So my successful books on Amazon were dumped and 2 years later still have not been re-loaded. And when they finally are, they will only be accessible to people who have a Kindle. People with a Sony reader, or a Bebook like mine, are not allowed to buy them. And foreigners are completely ruled out because they are not allowed to buy a Kindle at all.

    They are gambling that their proprietary system will become so well accepted in the States that we will stop looking anywhere else for books and magazines, and they will make zillions. I hope that will not happen, and that they will eventually have to start selling ebooks to anyone who wants to buy. In the mean time, try not to encourage them!

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  60. Angela James
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 18:14:31

    Angela,

    The strong-arming does not work like that. The Kindle does accept some (many?) file types from outside. The trouble comes because Amazon is by far the largest ebook retailer and has decided to sell ONLY in their own format.

    But that wasn’t really what I was commenting on, that’s an entirely different topic of discussion. I was commenting on the capabilities of the Kindle and whether you can purchase books outside the Kindle system. And you can.

    Sony doesn’t carry any but their own format of books either. Neither does Ereader.com. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to convince Amazon that they should be held to special rules just because we don’t like it.

    And I don’t believe Amazon is the largest ebook retailer. Certainly couldn’t prove it by the statements I see. Are they a growing ebook retailer? Yes, but I think Fictionwise is still the biggest and I don’t think they’d be any more open to someone telling them what they can and can’t do with their business.

    o my successful books on Amazon were dumped and 2 years later still have not been re-loaded. And when they finally are, they will only be accessible to people who have a Kindle. People with a Sony reader, or a Bebook like mine, are not allowed to buy them.

    So it’s up to your publisher to make sure they set up a partnership with different distributors, such as Amazon, Sony and others, so that all people with all different kinds of readers can read them. I guess I don’t really see why we should “boycott” Amazon for doing what other businesses do.

    In the mean time, try not to encourage them!

    Since they are valid and good source of income and we have a contract with them that puts us into a business relationship, it would be quite foolish of me not to, don’t you think?

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  61. Jacqueline George
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 18:57:51

    I don’t think a boycott would be a good idea either. In the ‘old’ days when Amazon sold in open formats, they were by far the best source of sales for me, and I hope that will happen again. After all, their ebook library apparently has (or will have) 200,000 titles (I think the figure for Sony is 20,000 but growing)..

    What makes me sad is that foreigners, or people who have ebook readers other than Kindle, cannot buy my books through Amazon. That doesn’t make any sort of business sense – unless Amazon has another agenda.

    In a free market situation, a business can do what it likes, of course, until they achieve market dominance. Then rules against monopolistic behaviour kick in. Apparently there is already legal action in the States against Amazon for pressuring POD publishers who want to sell on Amazon to use an Amazon-owned POD printer. The other printers are up in arms because Amazon’s size means no POD publisher can afford to resist, and other printers feel this is unfair.

    I hope Amazon opens up and either lets other readers use the Kindle file format, or sells in open format for the rest of the world.

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  62. Angela James
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 19:12:07

    In a free market situation, a business can do what it likes, of course, until they achieve market dominance. Then rules against monopolistic behaviour kick in. Apparently there is already legal action in the States against Amazon for pressuring POD publishers who want to sell on Amazon to use an Amazon-owned POD printer. The other printers are up in arms because Amazon's size means no POD publisher can afford to resist, and other printers feel this is unfair.

    Um, yes, I’m in a unique position to be well aware of this. But I don’t think that has anything to do with the subject at hand, really, unless we’re going to start gathering grudges against Amazon because they’re good at their business and better at marketing than Sony.

    I hope Amazon opens up and either lets other readers use the Kindle file format, or sells in open format for the rest of the world.

    I agree that it’s unfortunate that people can’t go to Amazon and buy if they don’t have a Kindle, but I don’t think Amazon is either obligated to make it so or to open it to a foreign market. However, given the size of their business, they don’t strike me as lacking business sense, and I’d bet good money that availability to those outside the US is something they’re looking into, but because of the unique qualities of the Kindle (the Whispernet and their agreement with a cell phone provider) it wouldn’t be quick work to do this worldwide. In any business, it’s best to start with the smaller market and then grow from there if the market demands it.

    What makes me sad is that foreigners, or people who have ebook readers other than Kindle, cannot buy my books through Amazon.

    On the other hand, I think it is up to publisher and authors to market their books and provide wide enough distribution that customers can find them in other places. If your book is epublished, Amazon should not be (and certainly isn’t) the be all and end all of buying and distribution. It’s just another venue for it.

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  63. Kindle Link Love - 10/31/2008 | Kindleist.com - Amazon Kindle News Blog
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 04:18:32

    [...] Oprah Seal of Approval for the Kindle and What It Means for eBooks – Dear Author [...]

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