Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

The Amazon Kindle Book Availability Deceit and Other Oddities

Amazon advertised itself as having a large digital catalogue of books available at 88,000 plus. This was one point that really worried me. I wrote in one email to a digital director of a major publisher earlier this week, “Are you going to be publishing Kindle only ebooks because that would really suck for all non Kindle owners, like me.” Alas, all the publishers who responded, other than Wiley, said no exclusivity for Amazon, meaning that the publishers want to sell as many books as possible. So what accounts for the huge catalog? Non fiction books. 54,052 books in the Amazon digital library are Nonfiction. Less than 1/3 of the “Kindle” books are fiction. I decided to look at three existing e-bookstores for comparison: Kindle (Amazon), Fictionwise, BooksonBoard.

  Kindle Fictionwise BooksonBoard
Romance 4,639 5757 8589
Fantasy 1,560 2058+433* 3990
Mystery/Thrillers 4,079 2399+1902 6348+5083*
Science Fiction 3,007 4362 5607

*Fictionwise has  Fantasy and Dark Fantasy categories

**Fictionwise Mystery/Crime and Suspense/Thriller

***Books on Board has Mysteries & Thrillers/Adventures.

As you can see by the above numbers, Amazon’s books actually lag behind in the numbers. Of course, part of this is due to the fact that Fictionwise and BooksonBoard sell books from epublishers and some also has to do with how the bookstores catalog books. Amazon places books in more than one category (Deceptively Delicious was in Lifestyle & Home as well as Advice/How To). I am not sure about Fictionwise and BooksonBoard, although the latter company has a catalog of 156,000 ebooks right now.

The catalog of Kindle books is a mite deceptive. It boasts a huge number of digital editions but the fact is that the books that we genre readers want to read are going to be widely available and not just for Kindle readers. Big sigh of relief there.

What about pricing?

Amazon charged out of the gate with a promise that all New York Times Bestsellers and new hardcover releases would be $9.99. Right now all fiction books appear to be $9.99 or under, but it doesn’t seem clear whether this will last forever. I think that it is unlikely because Amazon would be losing $3-4 per book sale which really would be hard to make up with the sale of Kindles. I believe that with the new year, and possibly sooner, Amazon will increase the prices of its hardcovers to some percentage of the retail price and keep its advertised promise of all NYT Bestsellers or new hardcover releases being $9.99. In the meantime, Fictionwise, BooksonBoard, and Sony have all lowered their prices to match or come close to the Kindle pricing.

For genre readers whose primary diet is romance, the prices of the Kindle books aren’t lower than BooksonBoard or Fictionwise’s Club pricing.

  Kindle Fictionwise* BooksonBoard
Caressed by Ice 5.59 $5.35 5.57
Demon Moon 6.39 6.11 6.63
The Pack Collection N/A 9.86 5.50
An Enchanted Season 9.99 9.88 9.99
The Scottish Companion 5.59 5.35 5.57

* These are all buywise club prices.

I am a little worried about the price matching that Fictionwise and Books on Board are doing. I started buying ebooks from a Russian run website called Elibron a few years ago. The reason I did this was due to price. Elibron sold almost all of its ebooks for 35%, or more, off the retail price. Elibron’s ebook business stopped fulfilling orders a couple of years ago. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the pricing.

Books on Board, Fictionwise and Sony have all met the loss leader pricing of Amazon’s Kindle ebooks. Most hardcovers are $9.99 or under, no matter what the retail price. That’s great for us in the short term, but in the long term, this loss leader bargain pricing could lead to a “one bookstore that rules us all” sort of thing which isn’t good.

What needs to happen is for ebooks to be sold at a lower wholesale price by publishers. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon as evidenced by Peter Shanks’ statement to Newsweek. (As an aside, I am pretty sure that it is David Shanks that Newsweek’s Levy meant to identify. Unless Penguin’s CEO, David Shanks, has a brother named Peter who also works at Penguin, that is).

Publishers are resisting the idea of charging less for e-books. “I’m not going along with it,” says Penguin’s Peter Shanks of Amazon’s low price for best sellers. (He seemed startled when I told him that the Alan Greenspan book he publishes is for sale at that price, since he offered no special discount.)

Amazon claims that it can maintain the loss leader pricing indefinitely. According to the Newsweek article, it is just the right mix of “low-margin and high-volume sale–"you just have to make sure the mix [between discounted and higher-priced items] works.

Books on Board told me that it was going to price its books competitively, most often meeting the $9.99 price but not always. For example, World Without End by Ken Follett retails at $35.00. BooksonBoard hasn’t met the Kindle pricing of $9.99, instead pricing the book at $19.99. I think BoB is very consumer oriented and I would hate to see a promising young e-tailer close its doors because of aggressive loss leader pricing designed to gain a monopoly on the ebook reading public.

What about format?
Finally, the question becomes whether you want to buy a book that you might only have for a limited time. I.e., by buying a Kindle book you are essentially buying into the Kindle system, forever after amen. I’ve always said that I won’t be tied to one device. I’ve never bought one Sony BBeB book and I’ll never buy a Kindle book, even if the price is super attractive because I don’t want my book to be tied to one device. What if Sony comes out with some awesome color eink device with wireless capabilities and an integrated light but I have 200 Kindle proprietary ebooks? I am stuck with the Kindle even if it is old technology.

I found it especially odd that Amazon would not support its own proprietary format. In 2005, Amazon acquired Mobipocket. Mobipocket is one of the leading formats in the world of ebooks. David Rothman, tech blogger for Publisher’s Weekly and host of Teleread.org, says that there are more mobipocket formatted books than any other format. As previously stated, no DRM’ed or locked Mobipocket can be read on the Kindle even though the Kindle’s format is a super proprietary form of Mobipocket.

What a reader could do is buy MS Lit books, strip the DRM and convert to an unencrypted mobipocket format using the free Mobipocket eBook Creation software. Of course, this might technically be a violation of the DMCA and Kindle has promised that if it catches you doing something wrong, Amazon will consider reporting you.

Responsiveness to Consumers

Here the clear winner is BooksonBoard. It has a 24 hour a day support staff. My tech support emails get answered within an hour no matter when I’ve sent them. I complained about the unwieldy purchase system back on August and it was changed within a week. You no longer have to await an email to make a purchase. Instead, you pay and your purchase is immediately available. BooksonBoard also lists upcoming books and you can pre-order them such as November 27, 2007, release by Karen Ranney, An Unlikely Governess.

Fictionwise is slower to respond to consumer complaints. I know that Keishon and I complained for months, even years, that Fictionwise was releasing its books a week late because it’s publishing week started on Monday when all the publishers released their books on Tuesdays. Recently, Fictionwise has started pre-orders on Monday for books released on Tuesdays so that readers don’t have to wait for an entire week to buy the digital book. To me, this is something Fictionwise should have done years ago but didn’t see the need to do so until BooksonBoard came along with its lower prices and immediate availability.

Amazon marches to the beat of its own drum as can be seen by the design of the Kindle. Not a one person who saw the prototype thought it was attractive. But Bezos likes it and that is what matters. One ebook reader suggested perhaps that ugly is the new cute. Will Amazon be responsive and listen to consumers? I am thinking that it will do so only when it suits them. In this, Amazon is more like Fictionwise and less like BooksonBoard.

The Verdict on the Kindle

Having read multiple threads at MobileRead and blog posts around the ‘net by Kindle owners, I see some advantages. Sony, Bookeen and the Kindle all have the same eink technology so the screen capabilities are exactly the same (although Sony employs a 8 greyscale and the other two only 4). I’ve read the screen refresh rate of the Sony and the Kindle are identical. I know from my in-store use of the Sony 505 (the Sony Reader version 2), the screen refresh rate is significantly faster than the older Sony.

What is different is the format (discussed above), the wireless capability, and the highlighting and annotation. To me, the latter is the biggest plus. The wireless capability for the Kindle is nice but since Amazon is going to be spying on its customers, I am not a fan. I’d rather turn the EVDO off and cut Amazon out of the loop. As one MobileRead user said, this is a device that sits between the Sony Reader and the Iliad in both price and features. If the annotation/highlighting is a big deal for you, then the Kindle might be worth the extra $100. If not, wait for the 2008 ebook readers. From what I hear there is some exciting stuff to hit the market in the next couple of years.

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

41 Comments

  1. Gail Faulkner
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 06:48:31

    Deceptive advertising. Who would have thunk it? Jane, thank you for the research. Very informative.

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  2. Sarah McCarty
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 07:25:48

    I have to say I’m an addict. I love the stupid thing. It’s got point and shoot operation, one handed operation, and it feeds my need for immediate satisfaction, ease of reading and comfort of reading. Bear in mind, I don’t want a color screen or PDA functions. I want an ebook reader that simply does what it does perfectly. And this does. Everything for the bookaholic in one simple device, Ebooks, audio books and a huge store from which to buy them. I do most of my shopping off Amazon anyway so it’s a natural expansion of my shopping habits, and as someone said in one of the articles, there’s a seriously cool factor to walking around with a book store in your hand.

    And yesterday, while waiting for my daughter and I was bored in the car, I “went” to the book store and bought a book to read. 2 minutes later I was reading and didn’t care that she was taking all day saying goodbye to her friends. :)

    Do I worry about the DRM? Nope. Then again, I don’t worry about Apple’s DRM either. (I’ve also been an apple customer for 21 years) If the companies big enough, I’m willing to take a leap of faith that they’ll stay around. And if they fold, I have infinite faith in the brilliance of hackers.

    Now, this weekend hubby is starting the trial subscription to the NY times. He gave up his subscription because of the huge about of paper that piled up. He’s kind of excited about having it back in a much more convenient package. And Next weekend, I try out the notes feature.

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  3. Sarah McCarty
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 07:26:26

    I have to say I’m an addict. I love the stupid thing. It’s got point and shoot operation, one handed operation, and it feeds my need for immediate satisfaction, ease of reading and comfort of reading. Bear in mind, I don’t want a color screen or PDA functions. I want an ebook reader that simply does what it does perfectly. And this does. Everything for the bookaholic in one simple device, Ebooks, audio books and a huge store from which to buy them. I do most of my shopping off Amazon anyway so it’s a natural expansion of my shopping habits, and as someone said in one of the articles, there’s a seriously cool factor to walking around with a book store in your hand.

    And yesterday, while waiting for my daughter and I was bored in the car, I “went” to the book store and bought a book to read. 2 minutes later I was reading and didn’t care that she was taking all day saying goodbye to her friends. :)

    Do I worry about the DRM? Nope. Then again, I don’t worry about Apple’s DRM either. (I’ve also been an apple customer for 21 years) If the companies big enough, I’m willing to take a leap of faith that they’ll stay around. And if they fold, I have infinite faith in the brilliance of hackers.

    Now, this weekend hubby is starting the trial subscription to the NY times. He gave up his subscription because of the huge about of paper that piled up. He’s kind of excited about having it back in a much more convenient package. Next weekend, I try out the notes/export feature. Woot!

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  4. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 09:01:54

    Kindle has promised that if it catches you doing something wrong, Amazon will consider reporting you.

    Oh, so they are monitoring my use of their device. Well so much for buying a Kindle.

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  5. Wendy
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 09:19:44

    I don’t really read ebooks; there’s a copy of one in my email but I’ve forgotten about even though I heard good things about it and I do want to read it. It’s just that it isn’t the same as having a book in my hands and I prefer that. So I’m not worried about the new Kindle, since I’m never going to buy it. :)

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  6. LinM
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 09:25:39

    If you seldom re-read your books, the DRM may not matter. But I have a collection of titles that I have purchased multiple times – first in print, then in .pdf from Amazon. The upgrade to Adobe 8 (I think) scrambled my passport and the .pdf files are garbage. The titles sit dourly in my Amazon history abandoned by both Amazon and Adobe.

    I was expecting/hoping that the Kindle would support mobipocket format. I wanted 2 things – the ability to read my existing mobipocket files and the ability to read titles purchased for the Kindle on my other devices. Not.

    Adding to the injury: Teleread.org pointed out that some e-books from MacMillan (including St. Martin’s press) are only available through Sony, Amazon or Mobipocket.com. So I can’t ignore the Kindle because it is having a negative impact on my access to titles.

    Yesterday my husband found out about the Kindle and asked if I wanted one for Christmas. I saw red. This is a device that won’t read the 1000+ ebooks that I already own; I can’t read books encrypted for the Kindle on my other devices; Amazon has already abandoned my digital library once – they may be on the way to discontinuing mobipocket support leaving me with a second set of dead files; the thought of my bookmarks and annotations stored on their servers while they extract statistical data is disquieting; Amazon’s clout with publishers and pricing strategies may not leave them open to anti-trust suits but they are having a negative impact on etitles available to me.

    So damn – I would like some of the features the Kindle offers but not with all of the disadvantages bundled in.

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  7. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 09:46:32

    I’m dying to get my hands on one of the readers with e-ink, but I’d rather never read another book again than go along with what Amazon is doing. ;) Fortunately, that’s not an issue, but that’s how against the Kindle I am.

    There’s no reason for them to put such tight constraints on this product, except they want to have people “stuck” buying from them.

    No thank you.

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  8. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:03:31

    Um guys… THE BIG STORY IS AMAZON IS SELLING eBooks from Samhain and Amber Quill Press!

    Good lord! This is gonna change everything. Seems they have no Loose-Id or Ellora’s Cave though.

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  9. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:04:31

    Oh and they are all Kindle Format only.

    ReplyReply

  10. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:21:38

    I also see Cobblestone Press, New Concepts Publishing, and Aspen Mountain Press.

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  11. Sarah McCarty
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:35:23

    Lin M.

    I have about 500 unsecured ebooks. I’m simply converting them to unsecure mobipocket (free program) and up loading them to my Kindle. No big deal and a violation of nothing.

    I seriously don’t understand the ACK! factor when it comes to Kindle tracking content. The same thing is done every day through your cell phone, your internet server, your car’s black box, your ipod, your easy pass, your blackberry, your work computer, your pager, your yahoo account your gmail account, your online purchases, your credit card company, your online banking, your google use, your insurance company, your social security numbr, your driver license etc. Just because no one points it out doesn’t mean it’s not happening, and if one thinks it’s only happening on the Kindle and the Kindle tracking is anymore intrusive or the most extensive, that’s a little like standing in the middle of a california forest fire and pointing to a twig and screaming fire.

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  12. Danielle
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:35:58

    Like Teddy mentioned in one of the earlier blogs…I’m holding out for the Sony VAIO® UX280P Micro PC. One day my ship will come in.

    I have both the Sony Reader and the eReader from eBookwise.com; I have one question….what format do readers buy that can be download on both readers?

    Unless the Kindle comes way way down in price….I can’t possibly see me buying one….this reminds me how at one time there were albums, from albums I went to 8 tracks, from 8 tracks to cassettes and now CD’s and IPods and MP3 players.

    I give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 10:39:53

    The thing about the Kindle that is gonna sell like hot cakes is…

    immediate gratification.

    You can sit anywhere and buy eBooks and read them NOW!

    It’s like if Apple allowed publishers to sell eBooks through iTunes. Same concept.

    This idea really does have legs. We may not like the Kindle but it is a gigantic leap in the right direction.

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  14. Keishon
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 11:07:38

    We just have to be patient. Someone will come along and give us an ebook reader that we’ve been waiting for. Very informative stuff here, thanks so much for researching this for us, J. I have no idea and what have been mad as hell to learn that over half of the reading availability is non-fiction stuff. I read non-fiction but it’s not a big part of my reading diet. I did notice the pricing but I can’t see it being long-term.

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  15. Keishon
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 11:13:42

    It's like if Apple allowed publishers to sell eBooks through iTunes. Same concept.

    Exactly what I was thinking, Teddy. It is a huge step in the right direction. Amazon could have been the premier ebook reader with all of this capability wrapped in an attractive reader with a huge library of books and supported by many formats without the problem of DRM. It had the potential to be much more than what it is now.

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  16. Keishon
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 11:16:39

    The iPhone can have this capability too. If Apple would only allow you to put an reading app on the phone as it already allows you to download music on a wifi network, why can’t it do it for ebooks as well? No e-ink technology here but a nice screen size for reading ebooks. Yeah, I’m waiting. I have patience.

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  17. Mike Cane
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 11:28:37

    >>>The iPhone can have this capability too. If Apple would only allow you to put an reading app on the phone as it already allows you to download music on a wifi network, why can't it do it for ebooks as well?

    The SDK is coming soon. There is also an ebook app for it (which may soon read Palm DOC format). iSilo is looking to move to iPhone too.

    And Fake Steve Jobs has called things correctly in the past. I am certain he gets insider leaks:

    Our new iBook reader

    Apple ebook reader + iTunes Store + AT&T = bye bye Kindle.

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  18. LinM
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 13:39:23

    Sarah:

    If the Kindle is serving your needs, I’m glad. It has a number of attractive features and could have been a sweetheart device.

    For me, there are 2 problems with the Amazon DRM – getting current books onto the device and getting Kindle books off the device when it reaches the end-of-life and is replaced with a device from a different source.

    If my current ebooks were DRM free, I could write a script to convert all of them to Mobipocket and read them on the Kindle but with the exception of the books from BAEN, most of my titles are protected. I am most incensed by the ebooks already purchased from Amazon directly or through Mobipocket which is entirely owned by Amazon. There is no method of reading these books on the Kindle and that is an unforgivable omission.

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  19. Ann Bruce
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 14:51:54

    One ebook reader suggested perhaps that ugly is the new cute.

    Uh…no. God, I hope not. These people need to take a page out of Apple’s manual and realize combining functionality AND looks is the way to go.

    Speaking of Apple, I wonder when they’ll release an ebook reading device with e-ink. They ebook market is small, but that’s because of lack of devices. I seriously think Apple can change that.

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  20. Some Guy
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 15:05:33

    Uhh, you might want to hang on with the Amazon content evaluations. What they did was first was convert all the Amazon “E-matter” or whatever it was to Kindle format (remember, bunch of stuff sold, DRM-free in HTML format previously). They still don’t have all the Mobipocket books in the Kindle store, but more are being added daily.

    That might be another 50,000 titles right there… many of them fiction books… and reformatted Gutenberg texts… plus all publishers (of any size) jumping in to Kindle. It’s the real thing.

    No offense to Fictionwise or BooksonBoard or whoever, but there was never a particularly compelling proposition for a publisher of any size to sell electronic books through retailers not named Amazon. (I’m of the opinion that MacMillan is pulling books from the content network just because they don’t like SEO-savvy ebook retailers ranking above them on their own texts… but of course never actually selling MacMillan works.)

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  21. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 17:36:24

    We just have to be patient. Someone will come along and give us an ebook reader that we've been waiting for

    This is what I’m waiting on. I’m hoping Sony will see the appeal of the Whispernet deal Amazon has going and do something similiar. Imagine, being on a roadtrip~in the passenger seat naturally~ and being able to download a new book right there.

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  22. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 18:01:23

    I still gotta admit it is sorta cool seeing Hunter’s Pride from Samhain sitting right next to Hunter’s Salvation from Berkley and both can be readily downloaded by the Kindle without a bunch of hunting around.

    The convenience of it all is so cool.

    ReplyReply

  23. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 18:05:32

    Oh shit, I think I want one of these now. I am so weak!

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  24. Bonnie
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 19:16:27

    Oh shit, I think I want one of these now. I am so weak!

    I am weak, too! I want one so badly, I can taste it. Alas, I will wait for the price to go down.

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  25. veinglory
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 19:24:02

    I read all about the Kindle and then I bought a Sony ereader. It isn;t perfect either but at least it readers pdfs and leaves them as pdfs.

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  26. Jane
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 20:47:53

    I just read this article over at Mobile Read. Apparently there is a new ebook device that is being finalized that reads Adobe and MS Lit and will be launched before Xmas. It’s an Australian company. Amazing, in my opinion.

    Dymocks finalising ebook

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  27. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 21:51:19

    I still gotta admit it is sorta cool seeing Hunter's Pride from Samhain sitting right next to Hunter's Salvation from Berkley and both can be readily downloaded by the Kindle without a bunch of hunting around.

    The convenience of it all is so cool.

    LOL… yeah, that’s very cool.

    I gotta be honest, I’m irritated with Amazon, but there’s a part of me that is thrilled that ebooks are suddenly going to be in the limelight…at least for a while. I just wish it was a product I’d be able to vouch for and push on people.

    As it is, I can’t. I hate the limitations of it, I hate how ugly it looks, I hate the DRM deal, I hate how Amazon is trying to ‘control’ the product and its use even once it’s sold.

    ;) Maybe I’m just hard to please.

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  28. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 22:18:44

    Jane,

    They are coming out with a literal ton of devices that can be used to read eBooks.

    I think the point of The Amazon Kindle is that it includes a support and delivery system like the iPod.

    Apple iPod is not just another MP3 it has iTunes that can be accessed and bought from.

    That is the whole puzzle right there not just an eBook Reader itself but the promise of a whole system that connects you to any eBook you might want to buy and read at that moment.

    Apple has the potential to do this, Fictionwise has the underlying ideas, but Amazon has actually connected it all together on a wireless.

    I think it will take something more than a good eBook Reader if products like the Kindle actually do catch on.

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  29. Jane
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 22:21:12

    I get the concept, TP, but I don’t believe the iPod is so successful based on the delivery. One of the reason Jobs is pushing for DRM free music is because DRM music hurts his ability to sell more music and more iPods. For me, though, when I am looking at buying a device, I am looking for something that has form and function.

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  30. pixie
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 22:27:59

    “Not a one person who saw the prototype thought it was attractive” I know that’s not true of some beta testers as one is on a kindle emailing list and said so early today… where is the source of your information for this statement?

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  31. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 22:29:27

    If I were Evil Overlord Amazon I would be playing with that iPhone SDK and getting a special Kindle Reader/Buyer Button together to make my empire more evil.

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  32. Teddypig
    Nov 25, 2007 @ 22:52:54

    I don't believe the iPod is so successful based on the delivery.

    Well, first the delivery system does not have anything to do with the DRMs involved.

    I know from experience most computer illiterate folks I have talked to like the convenience of the whole Apple package. iTunes rips your cds for you and sells you music you do not have right in your own home and the new iPod goes even further to access iTunes directly so you can buy while using it away from home.

    It’s all about immediate gratification.

    iTunes is not the best cd ripper in fact it is pretty glitchy but people use it all the time. iTunes despite the DRMs does not sell you the best quality recordings like you could get ripping your own CDs.

    iPod is not the best quality MP3 player on the market. In fact it is relatively expensive and sounds sorta muddy especially after the last few updates.

    But… despite all these negatives both of these pieces together makes it the best for people who do not want to do more or learn more. The whole system and hardware combination is a win for Apple while marketing convenience.

    The Kindle is following a great model in this respect.

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  33. eggs
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 04:05:51

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the Dymocks announcement of a new ebook device. Have you checked out their canny grasp of the ebook market? Their entire online romance library is 370 books (in adobe – they have even fewer titles in other formats). The buy links have cover blurb text, but no actual cover images to give you a sub-genre clue. More importantly, they don’t give publication date information, so there is no way to find out what year the book was published – and I’m pretty sure many of them are older than my kids! For example: they carry 7 (seven!) Nora titles and two of them are published by Harlequin!

    The most interesting aspect of it is that their introductory ebook pricing is in line with the pricing structure of US-based sites, even though their paper book prices remain at an Aussie high (to roughly convert Aussie prices to US dollars just imagine the price is 10% cheaper – and that’s about the price in US dollars). This would be an attempt to lure back buyers like me who now buy more ebooks from US websites than actual paperbacks from Aussie bookstores. If their embarrassment of a ebookstore is anything to go by, then their device is going to suck the big one!

    In any case, it’s too little too late. I think the ebook horse has well and truly bolted for non-US based English language bookstores. The US stores will continue to get the lion’s share of international trade – except for Amazon, of course, as we can’t connect to their sooper-dooper kindle network or read their kindle books on our other devices.

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  34. lisabea
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 10:31:55

    All “computer illiterate folks” please raise your hand. *hand waving* Sarah and Teddypig have nailed the two most important points for me. First: The thought of purchasing a book in the toasty warm car while my daughter is riding her pony, for an hour in the freezing cold, is the most seductive one I’ve had in a while. That’s as good as sex, my friends. And, second, because I’m unfamiliar with most technology, (er, all technology), ease of use is a concern. I hate the price, the look and the fact that the stupid thing is back ordered. But everything else sounds lovely…

    The hand wringing continues.

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  35. Beth
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 11:29:39

    Thank you for your review. It is really helpful as I head into holiday season.

    ps. Am I entered to win Demon Night???

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  36. Robin
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 12:10:38

    re. downloading books directly — can’t I do the very same thing with my Palm Treo’s internet connection?

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  37. Jane
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 12:13:16

    Yes, both Mobipocket and I think, eReader, offer over the air purchasing and downloading of books. I know I did that with mobipocket and my motoq.

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  38. Teddypig
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 12:59:01

    Well with Amazon owning Mobipocket the results should be similar.

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  39. Kathleen O'Reilly
    Nov 26, 2007 @ 15:45:14

    OK, I’m a salivater, I freely admit it. There was one review on the Kindle somewhere, don’t remember, which says that people are missing the boat when they see the Kindle as only an ebook reader. He called it a “portable bookstore,” which i thought was brilliant. Do you know how much money I would spend if I had a portable bookstore always available? I don’t like being tethered to the computer for Inet access. I want to be waiting in line, or on the train, or heck, in the bookstore!

    As for the compatibility with other books, I would imagine that in Version 2.0, you’ll see a lot more of the compatibility that people want their existing unlocked ebooks. Amazon owns Mobipocket, so it’s not a long leap to see that getting better in the future iterations.

    I’m a computer geek and also an author, so DRM neither frightens nor confuses me because I understand why it’s there. Alan Greenspan will not sell his book without DRM of some sort, publishers will not be happy without DRM. JK Rowling won’t even publish her books electronically. There is no good and elegant solution to this problem and Amazon devised a solution which is going to make publishers happy, going to make authors happy, going to make easily-confused readers happy, and will only piss off those who already have an investment in ebooks, and it seems like they are working on a transition path for those as well.

    What I like most about Amazon’s model is they’re pricing the ebooks lower than print. Now there’s a cost-value to purchasing an ebook. I buy a lot of music from iTunes as well.

    It seems to me that there are people in the world that want everything seamless and turn-key, and then there are others that want to move from platform to platform with ease. I worked in tech support for a long time. “Platform to platform ease” is a pain in the CPU. When you lock into one platform, you can sell products to your grandmother, and my mother, and the yoga teachers, and the guy who hates computers. See Apple Macintosh.

    I’m ignoring the cost for ‘charging for blog content issue,’ which I think is another battle entirely, because I like reading blogs on my computer, so I’m happy. :)

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  40. Fred
    Nov 28, 2007 @ 08:30:42

    “but since Amazon is going to be spying on its customers, I am not a fan. I'd rather turn the EVDO off and cut Amazon out of the loop.”

    I’m not sure where you get your information, but you can turn off the wireless and it runs just fine. You can download over USB and never even use the wireless.

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  41. Mark Bennett
    Apr 14, 2008 @ 20:44:53

    I think the Kindle is fabulous as well! Sure, the technology is still developing and the price has to drop, but this is the way reading will go in the future for many reasons, not the least of which are the environment and efficiency. Plus they let “regular Joes”, like me, publish books! It’s nice to no longer have to go through the “establishment” when it comes to writing/publishing/purchasing books-

    http://www.amazon.com/Psyched-Nothing-bedtime-tales-weary/dp/B00165EXTW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1208222972&sr=1-1

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