Outcry Prompts Amazon To Stop Overcharging For Digital Edition

Kevin couldn’t understand why Amazon charged $29.95 for the digital version of Confessions of a Butcher when the paperback cost only $11.95. Amazon tried to gussy up the Kindle edition by offering what looked like a steep 45% discount, but the digital edition still cost $5 more than the print edition. Even the author’s wife chimed in to Amazon’s discussion forum to pan the discrepancy, adding, “what’s really ridiculous is that we sell more ebooks at $20 than we do new paperbacks for $11.95.”

Kevin writes:

I was looking to buy confessions of a butcher and at the time the “digital list price” was 29.9.95. With the “45%” discount it was still 5+ USD more for a kindle copy. I posted a comment and asked the Author to speak to Amazon, long story short the author (through his wife) responded they thought it was the pits as well but there was a happy ending when Amazon ended up reducing the cost down to 10.76, still not great for a limited use e-book but good enough for me! So the moral is if you have a reasonable complaint, Amazon listens (at least in the case).

Amazon is heavily discounting the price of eBooks to spur Kindle sales, but eBooks won’t always be so cheap. Writing over at Slate, Farhad Manjoo warns that if the Kindle becomes as ubiquitous as the iPod, eBooks, which can’t be shared, traded, or resold, may soon cost more than their print counterparts. “As the master of the e-book universe,” Manjoo claims, “Amazon will eventually call the shots on pricing, marketing, and everything else associated with the new medium.”

Can you see yourself paying $30 for an eBook anytime soon?

Confessions of a Butcher-eat steak on a hamburger budget and save$$$ (Paperback) [Amazon]
$29.95 digital list price are you kidding me?!?!?! [Amazon Customer Discussions]
Fear the Kindle [Slate]

Comments

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  1. ChChChacos says:

    I work for a company that sells the Sony e-readers. One of our sales pitches is that we’re supposed to say,”Purchasing ebooks will always be cheaper than purchasing a book off the shelves.” (We work in a Borders so it’s kind of ironic in a way to talk poorly about the books around you and their prices. Time and time again I say this to people because it’s what I’m told. In the end I don’t know if there’s any truth to it. Sony’s books are just as expensive as a lot of Amazon’s. I personally could never see myself paying more than 30 for an ebook that I could find on the shelves for 10 bucks. Although, I have purchased a textbook for a college course that was an ebook only available for 5 months the course was in session for $50…but the real book would be $90 so I thought it was a deal.

    • CFinWV says:

      @ChChChacos: I love love love my Sony eReader, but the day I spend more on a digital book than the paperback is the day I stop plugging it in to recharge it. Mostly I get books for the average price of a paperback, around $7. My saving grace is the fact that I don’t have any pressing urge to buy books when they’re new releases, I have such a huge pile to be read that I can easily wait until the price drops.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @ChChChacos: but at the end of the course, you can usually re-sell that hard copy for at least $50, maybe even $75

    • JoshReflek says:

      @ChChChacos: If you previously didn’t “know if there’s any truth to it.”, now you do.

      Stop misleading your customers.

      • ajlei says:

        @JoshReflek: I too work at a Borders and I am constantly getting good feedback about the Sony Reader’s book prices. I’ve never really looked into it, but I would assume that the prices for ebooks are generally reasonable if people comment on it on a consistent basis. I’ve also had customers rag on the Kindle to me. However, many of the customers come to us out of loyalty so who knows if they’re really just being agreeable or what.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @ChChChacos: The sony isn’t wholly proprietary though, is it? You can read your own books or text files or documents or whatever, right?

      personally, I think that is what is most lacking on the kindle, pdf-email-converter thing besides.

      • ScottRose says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese:

        Agreed. I would never buy a title (be it a book or MP3) that is locked with DRM. Because then you are a) relying on the company that sold it to you to always support their DRM, and b) you will always need to purchase a reader from that company.

        DRM-protected content is the worst swindle of consumers en-masse that I’ve ever seen. It locks you into one company for all your content. (Unless they do the right thing like Apple/[Record Labels] and allow you to unlock it. I mean, they should do it for free, but at least they’re done with DRM.

        And please, everyone, remember to factor in the cost of the eBook reader. I know there are many advantages to eBooks, but if you pay (for example) $300 for the reader and then put 100 books on it, you have a premium of $3 to read each book. Plus these devices won’t last forever / not be lost in an airplane seat pocket (etc.) forever.

        So it’s $300 every 3 years or so for the rest of your life or until Amazon goes out of business. Or until you don’t want those 100 books you’ve purchased. In which case you’ve paid something like $1300 ($10 x 100 books + $300 reader) and have absolutely nothing to show for it.

  2. WaywardSoul says:

    There are only two ways I would buy an eBook, ever! 1) If it cost $1-$2 and I really, really, wanted to read it now. 2) If it were a required text and I could get it for less than half the price of the lowest quality used textbook I would find acceptible for use.

  3. Yossarian says:

    There is no way I would pay anything even remotely close to the price of a print book for an ebook. The Kindle, or whatever, is a reasonably cool concept, but I don’t need to haul my library around.

    When I go on a trip, I don’t need more than two books. I’d rather just buy the books and be able to lend, trade, sell, or even keep the book than have a digital version tied to a device.

    Now, if I could get a digital copy for next to nothing, or free, like when I buy a Blu-Ray disc, I’d be greatly tempted to start doing so. As it stands now, I’ll just keep buying the old-fashioned paper books.

  4. dianabanana says:

    Cheaper ebooks have always just been a gimmick. Saving you $1 per book is not really going to make you back $300+ you spent on an ebook device.

    An ebook reader is only good for 3 things: 1) portability, 2) free books (pirated, library, or classics downloaded for free) 3) when you move, you don’t have to pack up 6445345432 boxes of books with you.

    As a avid book reader, just 1 and 3 alone is good enough for me. Have you ever been on a plane ride and had to lug 3-4 books with you? I have and it sucks. :(

    • floraposte says:

      @dianabanana: Whereas I carry 10 (usually paperbacks and galleys, admittedly) and would rather do that than carry yet another electronic item that’d cost me hundreds of dollars to replace, with the additional thrill that I’m dependent on the manufacturer to replace the contents. To me replaceability factor has direct impact on portability.

    • kmw2 says:

      @dianabanana: That’s why for plane rides I choose cheap bestsellers from the used bookstore and slap BookCrossing labels on them – I get to read a new book, only spend a couple books, and when I am done with them I set them free in the nearest airport lounge for some other bored traveler to schlep with them for a leg or two.

      • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

        @kmw2: Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but you carry around a stack of Book Crossing (airport bookstore that resells copies of their books used) labels to stick on there? I know the book return program I’ve seen in most airports only buys back its own stock and that’s a pain, but slapping labels onto books purchased elsewhere to take advantage feels like cheating to me.

  5. Megladon says:

    Amazing, charging more for something that costs only the transimition of electrons over a wire, plus royaltys to the author. No storage fees, no printers or binding fees, no transportation or paper costs, just pure filthy greed.

    If a book on a shelf will cost 10$ with all the above costs there is no reason why an ebook shouldnt cost half… oh right, pure filthy greed, forgot that part.

    • steve says:

      @Megladon: Maybe its greed, but on the other hand I’m sure Amazon sunk a lot of money into developing the Kindle, and is not making back much profit on the device. So like game console developers, they sell the console at or near cost and make their money with overpriced games… still, the Kindle is pretty expensive already…

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @steve: I would have to agree with this logic.

      • Jesse says:

        @steve:

        Very true. Amazon is a content provider. They are offering the Kindle to sell books. This contrasts with the Apple/iPod/iTunes model which is offering content on iTunes to sell hardware (iPod & Macs).

      • deep.thought says:

        @steve: Slashdot pointed to a story a few days ago about how the Kindle 2 screen took 12 years and $150 million to develop. On the other hand, they pointed to another piece that said the New York Times would save $300 million annually by buying every subscriber a Kindle and shutting down their presses.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        @steve:

        “Maybe its greed, but on the other hand I’m sure Amazon sunk a lot of money into developing the Kindle”

        That’s called making a business decision and living with the consequences. There are plenty of people out there who have bright ideas for products with the expectation that most people will think likewise.
        It’s when they realize that no, no matter how hard they wish or will it, a lot of people will not pay more money for a digital version than a hard copy
        that their pricing structure will change.

  6. The_IT_Crone says:

    I have the same opinion on this as I do for Downlodable Content on Xbox Live and other DRM-monstrosities: since I can’t back it up, sell it, it may “expire” someday, the cost to the distributor/vendor is tiny compared to the physical copy, then it should be dirt cheap. With DRM-enabled digital copies I am only willing to spend the amount of money that I would be willing to spend twice, because I probably WILL have to buy it twice.

  7. Kenneth Mackay says:

    A regular book never needs to be recharged, and probably weighs about the same as an e-reader.

    I can see an e-book being handy for extensive reference materials, but until e-books are as inexpensive as the storage and shipping costs are to the seller, I don’t see the point.

    When I’m done with a paper-book, I can give it away, sell it, or even use it to heat my house by burning it (I’m a republican). Can’t do that with an e-book.

    • JeffMc says:

      @Kenneth Mackay: I totally agree. I buy books all the time but when I’m done they only sit on my shelf until one of my brothers comes to visit. They scavenge whatever I have that’s new and drop off whatever they’ve finished reading. Until I can do that with an e-book I won’t even be mildly tempted.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @Kenneth Mackay: I’d normally agree but when you’ve amassed a few hundred books, storage becomes more of an issue. I’d trade my firstborn for my library converted to e-book on moving day; lugging a few hundred pounds of books up stairs is NOT fun.

  8. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “Can you see yourself paying $30 for an eBook anytime soon?”

    No.

    I want a physical book. An e-book has LESS value than a tangible book, not more, and I’m not going to pay more for less. Especially not if it’s crippleware.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Agreed one million percent. I always prefer a physical book. My eyes get strained when I look at a screen too long. Also with a book I don’t have to worry about a battery running out.

      • Jage says:

        @dragonfire81: I think you should go back and look at ebook readers with e-ink technology.

        It’s not a “screen,” perse, it’s exactly the same as looking at a book.

        And, since the battery only uses a small charge when the pages are turned, it battery works for an incredible amount of time. You never have to worry about leaving it on or anything, since that doesn’t use any power.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          @Jage: It can’t be “exactly the same as looking at a book” until you can flip quickly back to that other thing you read fifty pages ago, and keep your finger in the index or the glossary or the end-of-chapter footnotes as you read, and highlight passages, and write in the margins, and make copies of extracts a page or three long for fair-use handouts. So-called “bookmarks” really don’t do the same thing.

        • magic8ball says:

          @Jage: It’s exactly the same as looking at a book … except that I can’t underline and make margin notes. And I have to worry about it expiring. I will admit there are some advantages to e-readers, portability being the main one, but so far the negatives still outweigh the positives for me.

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @magic8ball: Yeah, I’m not anti-e-reader or anti-e-book, but I’m not going to pay MORE for e-books, that’s for darn sure. :)

          • ninjapoodles says:

            @magic8ball: Actually, on my Kindle, I can and do “underline,” (though it’s called “highlighting”), and I also make notes, using the keypad. Nothing ever expires, as far as I know–part of what you’re buying with the Kindle service is free storage in perpetuity…plus lots of people download their books to their computers.

        • Mr_Human says:

          @Jage: It’s not exactly the same as looking at a page in a book. The “page” is weirdly gray — not enough contrast. No thanks, it’s not ready yet.

        • Garbanzo says:

          @Jage: [thetravelinsider.info] asserts that books are printed at 2000 dpi, while ebooks are 167 dpi. (Specs I’ve seen for the Kindle are the same.) Those are linear dimensions, so the resolution per unit area of a book is 143 times higher.

          Looking at a surface with a print resolution that’s 0.6% that of a book is most certainly not “exactly the same as looking at a book.”

    • kmw2 says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: No matter how good a given e-book reader mimics a book, you still can’t take it in the bath. Me, I want books.

    • ArcanaJ says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: Agreed.

      Our power went out last night. My iPod dock wasn’t charged so there was no music. The kids hadn’t charged their hand held games. What saved us from several hours of boredom was a few candles and our many real books.

      • David Roche says:

        @ArcanaJ:

        You could do exactly the same thing with your Kindle. Honestly, I was skeptical about the Kindle for a long time, but finally got one, and I love it – it’s my favorite gadget EVER, and honestly, if you don’t understand why someone would want one, then you don’t want one, so this discussion does not concern you.

  9. Louie Colon says:

    I find this quite greedy. As mentioned in various other posts, the costs to produce an e-book for the consumer have GOT to be PALTRY compared to the costs of creating the physical book itself. The fact that some e-books are more expensive is preposterous… As well as the comparable pricing to real books.

    Amazon sells the Kindle for 300+, and it’s main selling point is the portability of more then one book… Saves space… Convenience… and at one time or another pricing of e-books compared to paperbacks… So Amazon wants you to pay a premium for a device that makes readers lives easer… but then they want to charge nearly the same price for e-books? It doesn’t make sense at all. I can see if the Kindle was 100 bucks and they charged that kind of $ for e-books… But one could assume that the advantages of paying 300+ for this thing is the long term savings one could realize by buying e-books instead. Witth these prices, those long term savings go bye bye… You’d be better off saving your 300+ … buy an X-box… and continue buying paperbacks… at one point or another you can pass em down to a child, relative, friend, or even someone who doesn’t have the means… With an e-book you could do none of the above…

  10. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I have a Palm TX and I’ve been reading free books for ten years (since I got my first Handspring, way back when). I am an enormously fast reader, and I positively could not afford to buy books at the rate I read them if I read a new book each time. I don’t have a library terribly convenient to me and the one that is nearest doesn’t have an especially good selection. They always seem to be out of the one I pick from the catalog.

    Project Gutenberg… thanks to them and Blackmask and other free PDA bookists, I can whip the gadget out of my pocket whenever I have thirty seconds to spare. I’m currently halfway through the full Thousand and One Nights, which coincided, interestingly, with a business trip to the Middle East. Fun stuff.

    I had to send my PDA in for service day before yesterday (the TX battery is not user-replaceable, which is a travesty) and I started having withdrawal symptoms late yesterday evening, y’all. :(

  11. dvdchris says:

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the point of a proprietary format like the Kindle when there are a million books you can read on your netbook, smartphone, or even that old PDA lying around.
    I don’t really even get why buying certain kinds of books (novels, non-fiction) is even a big deal anymore due to Audible.
    I get that there are books that will not translate to either ereading or audio format; books that have a lot of art or a collectible nature; but why does ANYBODY buy a hardcover novel anymore?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @dvdchris: Why buy a hardcover novel? Because it’s a dollar at the thrift store and I enjoy having a collection of books by of my favourite writers. For me, it’s a pleasure to have an author get excited when I bring out an early printing of one of their first books at a signing, and if that edition cost me less than a cup of coffeehouse coffee it’s even better to me.

      • aguacarbonica says:

        @JulesNoctambule:

        I think he was probably referring to hardcovers off the shelf, which are always more expensive than the paperback copy, and often sitting right next to one.

        Hardcovers do make better gifts though.

    • Garbanzo says:

      @dvdchris: Because some people process visual information better than they process audio information. Because with a book it’s trivial to skim back through earlier parts to check some detail of what came before. Because many people read faster than speech. Also a print book to me is far more convenient than an audiobook. I can read a page while waiting for the water to get warm in the shower–I can’t imagine bothering to put earbuds in to listen for 45 seconds.

      I just finished the novel Anathem in hardback. The audio book is a stunning 32.5 hours long *and* cost more than double. Yikes!

      • aguacarbonica says:

        @Garbanzo:

        Also, I didn’t address the whole audio books thing. Maybe because some people hate being read to? I always have and I always will. If I want a story told to me, I’ll wait for it to be filmed. Otherwise, I prefer to narrate in the voice I imagine.

    • britne says:

      @dvdchris: wait, so you “don’t see the point” of Kindle’s proprietary format, but in the next breath suggest Audible as a solution? last I checked, they’re still DRM-crippled as well.

  12. cametall says:

    $30 for a Word document? I don’t think so.

  13. tangent4 says:

    Considering that my rights to the content are considerably restricted than books – no ability to re-sell, return, transfer etc, there’s no way I would pay MORE for less.

    For many books, I only plan on reading then once or twice. They should have some kind of rental system.

    Also, there’s no way I would buy a device before I’m sure that the content isn’t going to be subject to some kind of monopoly pricing. Low ebook prices on Amazon might seem great now, but they have no incentive to keep the prices low – especially if people feel they need to keep buying them to justify their Kindle purchases. Maybe the Google book program will help lower prices.

  14. legotech says:

    Yeah, we got mom a Kindle when she started Chemo…kindle book prices have been creeping up and up and up to the point where it’s just not worth buying them. Baen books has a HUGE library of free ebooks along with instructions teaching you how to get them on your kindle and then of course and there are other websites that have books.

  15. uptonogood says:

    one trick i learned to bypass the drm on my sony reader is to drop the file right into the reader itself rather than through the software (which is pretty horrible anyway).

  16. sonneillon says:

    Buy a real book used it only costs a buck or two.

  17. JollyJumjuck says:

    It wouldn’t be so bad if the author actually got more of a cut, but it’s the greedy publishers that get all the money, and get to cut costs at the same time (no paper, no ink). Greed on the part of the publishers, pure and simple, is what is driving the price of ebooks. They’re going to start going the way of the RIAA if this keeps up.

  18. BodeMiller says:

    I am never without a book; therefore when forced to wait in a line, stuck in my car, etc. time is never wasted and I am never bored because I can read. (This reminds me of the scene from “Gilmore Girls” where Rory brings a book to the prom.)

    So the Kindle technology is quite attractive. However the prospect of Amazon keeping book prices temporarily low only to jack them up later is extremely distasteful.

    This combined with the other factors mentioned by other commenters will cause me to pass.

    Fortunately I have a big purse.

  19. Plates says:

    When are people going to realize that the Kindle is just a big scam. Support your local used book shop!

  20. Levi Martin says:

    This is why I will never buy a kindle. I’ll use my Iphone for reading…and “borrow” any book that is unreasonably priced.

  21. BodeMiller says:

    I have a question for the tech saavy on Consumerist:

    Couldn’t Amazon sell the e-books with a limited number of transfers enabled (like two or three.) ITunes has a sort-of similar system where you can access the songs you have purchased on 5 computers.

    At least the obstacle for the people who like to share books with family or friends would be eliminated. My sister and I always coordinate the new books we buy and trade after reading (that way we can buy twice as many!)

    On the other hand, if they are selling out of Kindles with the system they have in place now, I guess there is not much incentive for Amazon to do this.

    • Jessica Allen says:

      @BodeMiller: Actually, you can have up to six Kindles registered to the same Amazon account and share books amongst them!

      My parents bought me a Kindle for Christmas, and, since they each have one, as well, we can all read every Kindle book that’s purchased on our shared Amazon account. Makes it especially nice if we want to read the same title simultaneously… and I don’t have to pay for books as long as my parents buy something that I want to read. ;)

      So, as long as you’re willing to log into the same Amazon account, there’s really no obstacle for friends and family who like to share books.

      • BodeMiller says:

        @Jessica Allen:

        Thanks, Jessica, that’s actually really good information to know. I had no idea from the browsing I’ve done on Amazon’s website or from the comments here that you could share books.

        You could start your own Kindle book club and buy wine and food with all the money you’d save from everyone having to buy the same books!

        • Jessica Allen says:

          @BodeMiller: You’re welcome! It’s something that Amazon should make more obvious in its marketing, perhaps; I think it’s a very useful feature and pretty fair while still preventing abuse.

          Sure, you can’t just swap books with any old Kindle user (the DRM prevents, say, loading a title onto an SD card and giving it to another person), but, for your close friends and family, sharing an Amazon account is really convenient. My parents and I have similar tastes in books, so now we don’t have to wait for someone else to finish before we can read something (and that means we can talk about it sooner, too).

          It would work very well for a book club; if you paid ten dollars for a title and split it amongst six people, it would cost each of you under two bucks. You might be able to get a used paperback for that price, but not in the case of new releases, and not if your local used bookstore closed recently (not that I’m bitter or anything).

          Samples are great, too. If I download a book sample that I enjoy and I think my parents might like it, too, I’ll log into Amazon and send it to their Kindles wirelessly, so they’ll have it added to their collection the next time they connect to Whispernet. The same can be done with full books.

          I know a lot of people on Consumerist seem to dislike the Kindle — or at least the idea of it, since I’m guessing many of them have never used one — but, as someone who didn’t feel a need to have a Kindle before receiving one as a gift, I absolutely love it. It meets my needs as a reader perfectly!

  22. ophmarketing says:

    The only benefit I can see to a device like the Kindle is if it can be used as an INEXPENSIVE replacement for college texts.

    I remember having to carry around what felt like literal tons of hardcover books from one end of the campus to another…and paying $50 or more for each one. And this was over 20 years ago. If college texts could be made available as, say, $10 Kindle versions (perhaps they could even be tagged to be time-limited use files which would expire at the end of the term), then I could see it being beneficial.

    But otherwise, tossing a book in my bag on the way to work really isn’t that big a deal.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      @ophmarketing:

      Why would the college and the publishers shoot themselves in the foot by offering a $10 Kindle version? If you have a class of 30 in accounting and the book version costs over $200 (which mine did) then
      30 * $200= $6000.
      Even if every copy they had happened to be used then the cost would still be:
      30 * $160= $4800.

      How does that compare to $300 received from Kindle versions of books sold?

      Used copies cost about $160 and I only got about $35 or $40 for my copy when class was over.

      Text books are a hugemongous source of revenue for colleges and you can bet your degree that they will do everything in their power to keep it that way.

  23. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    The actual cost of printing a book is as little as 50 cents. Maybe less for pulp paperbacks. You are paying for the author’s fee, marketing expenses, distribution channel markups, and administrative costs. So if you think a paperback can sell for $15.95 and the same ebook should sell for $1.00, you know NOTHING about publishing economics.

  24. Jesse says:

    I think if another competitor (e.g., Google) comes in to become a major player, that should help keep a lid on ebook prices.

  25. Crazytree says:

    I want to save $$$ on colorectal cancer!

  26. samson says:

    Can anybody imagine books being pirated like music. It will be cool to read.
    Like when i am 80 and nobody cares anyway.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @BLANDspace: Can anyone imagine book viruses? Spam in books? Having books keep track of what words you linger on, or what passages you re-read?

  27. chatterboxwriting says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Actually, e-books are more valuable than print versions. It’s been proven many times over that people will pay $27, $37, $47 and up for the convenience and instant availability of an e-book. Print versions may be more valuable to you, personally, but in the industry, the instant availability of e-books is the reason they are pricier than print versions.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @chatterboxwriting: The industry value of something is not really important to me as a consumer. The only thing that is important to me is how much value I am deriving from a product. I have yet to be convinced that an eBook will ever give me the same value is a paper book and I don’t think I’m going to be.

      When I can safely read a Kindle in the bathtub, lend my friends my eBook, resell my eBook to a used book store, and not have to worry about electronic malfunctioning or accidents turning my $300 dollar investment into trash, then maybe an eBook reader will seem like a good value to me.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      @chatterboxwriting:

      “e-books are more valuable than print versions.”

      Does this reasoning come from the fact that companies create problems and then say how their product solves all of them? Hence the reason for ridiculous prices?

      I just can’t see myself paying more for an e-book than a physical one, not even for college books.

      Just like an online college course can never replace the experience of sitting in a classroom. You may learn the same information but the experience and interaction between professor and other students is just not there.

      When I walk into my bedroom and look at my two bookcases filled with books it brings back a lot of fond memories. I can still remember where I was when I found that Civil War book printed in the 1870’s (pre ebay days) that I was long looking for. There are no memories made with an e-book. I doubt I would ever say – I fondly remember sitting on the toilet at home the day I downloaded that Civil War book.

      The Kindle will have its place in the reading world but I believe that the vast majority of people can and will do without it.

  28. redkamel says:

    Ive seen kindle, and used it. The only things ebook readers are good for are newspapers and reference. They can be updated every day, automatically, hold giant sunday editions or big volumes, and hold previous editions too. They might also be useful for school, where students can just load their books, and at the end of the quarter, dump them without making waste. They would also be handy for rare texts.

    I dont think they will replace books read for fun. half the point of a book for me is that I can write in it, hold it, put things in it, and lend it. I also get attached to my books…they are all different. Cant do that with an e book. And its more expensive? those ebooks should be 3 dollars!! I personally think kindle is selling well because older people are buying them. I dont think younger kids will buy them (if my friends read books at all, they actually like BOOKS)

    What happens if you lose your reader? do you lose all your books?

  29. Repique says:

    Something important to realize here: It may be that this is the case because the price of paper books right now is artificially low, not because the price of ebooks is artificially high. Publishers are not doing fantastically at the moment. The printed word is, right now, quite cheap… even relatively poor people (i.e., me) have shelves and shelves of books. This may not be a state that continues forever. It’s not inconceivable that the “true” cost of a book before paper and printing might really be closer to the $20 mark for most books than to the bargain bin hardcover price point that people are coming to expect.

    I can’t see myself paying $30 for an ebook… but then, I don’t have an ebook reader of any variety. I like my library, it lets me read things and then give them back so that I don’t have anything (electronic or paper) to clutter up my apartment even more in the long run.

  30. Zenatrul says:

    Atleast its not the prices of Audiobooks. *shudders*

  31. HooFoot says:

    As long as my local library lets me take out books fo rfree, I will never purchase an eBook.

  32. datafox says:

    Things like this confused me as to why people think Amazon would be better than the other publishers out there. Everyone want to make money, Amazon is no different.

    Just that in this case they are the gatekeeper for all the kindle books instead of other book stores (used and new) fighting for the price.

  33. erratapage says:

    I love ebooks, but I am not going to spend more for an ebook than for a paper book.

  34. HogwartsAlum says:

    No, no, no, no, no.

    1. You can’t read the Kindle in the tub (at least not if you’re as clumsy as I am).

    2. I’m not paying $30 for a file that will expire when I can buy a hardback for way less than that, which will never expire. Too DRM!!!

    3. The reader is too expensive. If it got lost or broken or stolen, I would not be able to replace it and all its contents. I already got ‘Applejacked’ and it sucked. I don’t want to go through that again.

    4. I don’t normally collect autographs, but if I wanted to get an author’s signature on one of my books, how would I get it on an ebook? Not gonna happen. :P

  35. Michael Walker says:

    I love Amazon but I’ll never buy eBooks.

    I want a kindle that can scan my massive collection of real books so that I can take just the kindle with me on trips :).

    I’m a whore for the written word…what can I say.

  36. rockergal says:

    I just felt “old” for the first time, I never ever bought an E-book reader or an e-book. There is something about curling up with a hardcopy that just can not be beat. Besides I would not feel comfortable with such a device outside by the pool or full sun. A book can dry, but a machine will fry ;-)

  37. N.RobertMoses says:

    I think the math is a bit flawed here. To read the book you first need to spend $359.00 on a Kindle, then pay $29.95 to read the book. Your total cost is a whopping $388.95!

    Who is the target market for the Kindle anyway?
    I could probably buy a couple hundred books for $388.95.

  38. ninjapoodles says:

    I was one of the Kindle skeptics, even after my mom got one last year. I just thought that nothing could compare to a “real” book. Then Mom got Kindles for my sister and I for our birthdays, and it took me about a week to become hopelessly HOOKED. It’s a wonderful device.

    I read voraciously, and often have 3 or more books going at the same time, so I can choose what to read depending on my mood. It’s fantastic to have everything right there on a portable device. I think it was Stephen King who first made the comment about the Kindle “disappearing in your hands” as you read, and that’s about right. I find it much more comfortable and practical for reading in bed than a paper book, especially a hardback.

    It’s also great for my daughter, for car trips and waiting rooms and such. We can pull up just about any title we can think of and have it at a moment’s notice, and children’s titles are often very cheap.

    The most welcome, and unexpected, benefit for me has been clutter reduction. I’ve always had stacks and piles of books at my bedside, on the end tables, coffee tables, on the floor, etc. The Kindle neatens that up quite nicely.

    • Jessica Allen says:

      @ninjapoodles: Same here! My parents gave me a Kindle for Christmas after my mom got one and loved it, and I’m also hooked. Now my dad has one of the second-generation Kindles, which means even more books to share, since we all have our Kindles registered under my mom’s account.

      Pre-Kindle, I’d often try to keep a book with me when going out, in case I got held up somewhere and I’d have time to read. However, I go through so many books so quickly that doing so wasn’t very convenient — I didn’t want to carry around multiple books at once, and some of my books are real doorstops, size-wise. With the Kindle, I can keep many of my books with me in one slim device, and then, of course, I have access to thousands of other titles via Whispernet if nothing in my collection strikes my fancy. I love it! My husband, meanwhile, loves that our nightstand no longer boasts a stack of books a foot and a half tall.

      I think the Kindle’s amazing, and, even though I initially had no interest in getting one for myself, I can’t imagine being without it now! It might not be for everyone, as illustrated by some of the derisive comments here, but it’s most definitely for me. =)

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @ninjapoodles: OK, I’m not questioning the fact that you like the thing, but your rave and Jessica’s sound just like the sort of mini-essay particularly favored by “viral marketing” organizations. Fess up, if so.

      • Jessica Allen says:

        @speedwell, avatar of snark: Gee, are you saying I could get paid for my writing? I wish.

        No, I’m not a plant. I’m just sick of seeing people trash the Kindle when they’ve probably never even used one. Every time the Kindle gets mentioned on Consumerist and people comment, it’s bitch, bitch, bitch about how it’s overpriced, you can read books on your iPhone (because there’s no way that’s an overpriced gadget!), the DRM killed your puppy, etc., etc. It was nice to see that someone else on Consumerist uses and enjoys the Kindle, and I responded in kind. I should’ve guessed doing so would get me suspected of shilling for Amazon.

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      @ninjapoodles: Meh, I like the piles of books though.

  39. H3ion says:

    There’s a building about five blocks away called a library. I can even check on what they have available online and reserve books the same way. I’m paying taxes for this anyway, so why not use it?

    As for books I want to keep to read over again, there are a couple of well-stocked used book stores nearby, and they’ll even take your name and e-mail address to tell you when something you’re looking for comes in.

    I’ve seen and used Kindle and it’s a neat device. But I just don’t think it compares to holding a paper book in your hands.

  40. twritersf says:

    Amazon regularly makes up “list” prices, then discounts them to make it look as if you’re getting a great deal. And when you write them to call them on it, they ignore you. I wrote to them about an HP CF2025dn printer, which HP sells direct from their own website for $499, and which Amazon shows a “list” price of several hundred dollars more. I love buying books from Amazon–except when they pull this crap. Always, always, always Google your product before buying from Amazon.

  41. fencepost says:

    In addition to the Free Library, Baen’s Webscriptions has individual books starting at $5 (less if you’re buying an entire month’s publishing or a bundle). New ones look to be at $6 and are available even before the hardcover copy comes out; older books are at $5.

    You can also buy the entire month (6-7 books) for $15, that generally means several new releases plus several books going from hardcover to paperback. If you always buy the entire month then over time you’ll end up with the “paperbacks” being books that you’ve already bought if you get the entire month every time.

    They also have bundles of multiple related books for a lower price.

    Finally, they have material from a few other publishers, so they clearly have a system set up for dealing with that even if much of the material from those publishers is priced higher. Hopefully they’ll add additional publishers in the future.

    • fencepost says:

      Forgot to mention: Webscriptions get you the books in stages – right now (end of February) you can get the first half of the books being published in May and the first 3/4 of the books being published in April.

      “We will aim to release each new offering by the 20th of the month.. The final (quarter) segment of each novel should be available approximately two weeks before the book reaches US stores.”

      Partial books are only in HTML, but
      “When the Final release of a month is made it will include Palm Pilot/Mobipocket/Kindle format, Rocketbook, Sony LRF, RTF and MS Reader versions. There won’t be any partial version in these formats.”

  42. diasdiem says:

    Piss on the Kindle. Books that are just as expensive as “analog” versions, that you can’t trade or lend or borrow, or sell to a used book store after you’re done reading them. All on a device that, unlike a real book, you can’t just leave on the table at the coffee shop when you have to use the restroom. And you’re going to be in for a long flight if you forgot to make sure it was charged before you boarded the plane. Paperbacks don’t require batteries. You want access to millions of books that won’t clutter up your home? Get a library card. No one needs to read more than a few books at a time anyway.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @diasdiem: Jesus, TELL me about the battery thing. As a girl geek who travels internationally on business, I have a large cosmetic case in my purse packed full of power storage units, power adapters for overseas travel, charging cables, and gender changers for my PDA, my phone, my noise-canceling headphones, etc…. My purse would be lighter if I was a beauty queen who needed three complete sets of makeup.

  43. Blueskylaw says:

    “e-books are more valuable than print versions.”

    Does this reasoning come from the fact that companies create problems and then say how their product solves all of them? Hence the reason for ridiculous prices?

    I just can’t see myself paying more for an e-book than a physical one, not even for college books.

    Just like an online college course can never replace the experience of sitting in a classroom. You may learn the same information but the experience and interaction between professor and other students is just not there.

    When I walk into my bedroom and look at my two bookcases filled with books it brings back a lot of fond memories. I can still remember where I was when I found that Civil War book printed in the 1870’s (pre ebay days) that I was long looking for. There are no memories made with an e-book. I doubt I would ever say – I fondly remember sitting on the toilet at home the day I downloaded that Civil War book.

    The Kindle will have its place in the reading world but I believe that the vast majority of people can and will do without it.

  44. Blueskylaw says:

    I also doubt the executor of my will will ever say:

    And to his son, Blueskylaw bequeaths his valuable collection of downloaded Kindle books.

  45. synergy says:

    I think it’s ridiculous that something that doesn’t have the cost of having to go somewhere to chop down a tree for the paper or getting the gas to truck it to all the bookstores or paying people to man the bookstore costs so damn much. And then you can’t give it to anyone like you can a physical book?? That’s utter bull!

  46. pattymc says:

    I worked in printing all my of my adult life and know well what goes into making and marketing the book as physical object. No, I would not pay $30 for a Kindle edition.

    I see pricing more in the $2.00 range and not only because there is no physical object being produced.

    There is no more transportation costs associated with the physical object. The consumer pool is there-fore no longer the US. It is the world. The potential market is much more vast. Sell more at a lower price.

    Sure, piracy is always an option but if these things were reasonably priced then people would buy not so much to purchase the electronic data but to support their favorite authors so that they can continue producing.

    All media producers are living in the past. There has been a paradigm shit in content distribution and they have yet to get with the program.

    PS I would pay more money for a heavily annotated ebook. Pride and Prejudice or Moby Dick are good examples. I think just about every other word in either book would be a potential click through to either a dictionary definition or a picture of an unfamiliar object or a short essay on some aspect of the period, say the inheritance laws in 1830’s England.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @pattymc:

      I think you meant to say “paradigm SHIFT.” Not trying to nitpick but that was really funny. :)

      I would pay more for the annotated ebook too. That would be a valuable edition to have, especially with linked content. And I totally agree with you about the pricing. They will sell more of them if they are reasonable. I don’t know why companies don’t understand this.

  47. shepd says:

    DRM + EULA = *severely* reduced value.

    I can resell a textbook for 50% of the cover price. I can’t resell a EULA’d book, so knock off 50% right there.

    I can read my textbook anywhere I like, in any situation I’d like, in any way I’d like. DRM means I can only read an ebook on a certain reader, sometimes for a certain amount of time, and only in certain ways. Knock another 50% off the already reduced price for lack of value.

    I can mark up my books with pencils and highlighters as necessary. I can also rip out pages if I feel the need to and give one page each to a different person, or (more likely) *legally* (thanks CANCOPY) photocopy small sections if I wish. The DRM and EULA keeps me from “abusing” my ebook as I like, since sometimes it won’t work on devices that give me 100% of all those features, and I generally can’t print it. Knock another 50% off the already reduced-reduced value.

    I can buy one book for a group of people if we only need it for a little while each (like a reference manual). The DRM and EULA won’t let me do this. This is a very important feature to me. 50% off again.

    So, a $100 textbook goes like this:

    reduction to $50 – EULA issues
    reduction to $25 – DRM issues
    reduction to $12.50 – DRM and EULA issues
    reduction to $6.25 – Can’t share it

    All because I CAN’T USE IT LIKE A BOOK.

    GAH! Why can’t these people figure it the hell out? I don’t want to end up a criminal because I’m using something the way any reasonable human expects it to be used. Is that so freaking hard to understand?

  48. FixinTo says:

    @pattymc:

    Funny you should mention Pride and Prejudice. I just downloaded The Complete Works of Jane Austen and am reading P&P on my Kindle now. All I have to do is click on an unfamiliar word, and my Kindle brings up the dictionary definition. Another click, and I can save that word and its definition in My Clippings. Run into a custom you’re curious about? Kindle can also connect wirelessly to Wikipedia.

    See mention of a character you’ve forgotten about — Russian novels, I’m talking about YOU!)? Put the character’s name in the Search box and find where he/she was introduced in the book.

    I’m a big fan of the library and a fan of buying books at thrift shops and flea markets. Spending big $$ on e-books is not appealing to me either. But the features I mentioned are worth a lot to me. Reading in bed is much easier with the Kindle than on a computer or reading a heavy hardback (I wish I had owned my Kindle when reading Pillars of the Earth and World Without End!)

    And you CAN read a Kindle in the bathtub using a ziplock bag or a waterproof bag designed for holding cellphone and such at the beach or on a boat!

    You can find almost all the classics free from a variety of sources, not just from Amazon. Each of the Jane Austen books in the collection I bought would have been free, but I opted to pay $4.79 to have them all at once in a collection.

  49. Anonymous says:

    There’s nothing wrong with not wanting a Kindle, but there are a whole lot of misconceptions here, and it’s really offensive to read that if someone likes the device they must be shilling.

    Anyone with a Kindle can tell you that even a voracious reader can read for pennies. You won’t always get the hot best seller, or your choice of any books, but there is plenty of choices that are interesting and economical.

    Often the books people complain are too expensive reduce in price very quickly. What people often complain about amounts to they can’t be the first person on the block to have read the book unless they pay more. Alas, you pay to be hip. :)

    A recent example was Jodi Picoult’s Handle with Care. People whined for days about the price, not listening to reasonable comments that the price would most likely drop as soon as the book for a toehold on the bestsellers lists. There were 1 star reviews, since removed, from people who apparently thought it was fair to screw over the author. For what? The book went to 9.99 in what I believe to be a little under a week.

    Kindle users have different styles and there are a lot of people there who bargain shop for reads and there are websites and discussion boards that will let people know about the new bargains. Other Kindle users who are usually happy with the prices, because they value the convenience or what have you.

    Often the only difference between the reader who uses the Kindle for convenience or speed and the somewhat frugal shopper is a matter of waiting a few days or weeks.

    Me? I like a bargain, but I also want what I want. My Kindle has books that I read about in the NYT or saw the author on TV, but there’s also a ton of free or under $1 selections there — I could probably read for about 6-8 weeks off those, and there are new freebies and selections all the time.

    Anyhow, as a reader, I could hardly be happier with my Kindle purchase, and it saddens be to see the myths states as if truth when it might impede the enjoyment of others.