For my eighteenth birthday last November, my parents bought me a fantastic wifi-Kindle. I had tested the Kindle for Computer service prior to getting the Kindle but I never successfully completed even a single book because the experience of reading a novel on a monitor sucks. I loved reading on the Kindle itself though. I’ve purchased maybe sixty books via Amazon Kindle and I really did read most of them. It was awesome. But I have a sticking point and I’ll get to it in a moment.
Just before I finished high school, I donated 164 books which I had accumulated since middle school. That’s about five years of books or about thirty-two books per year. That’s a lot of books. If I were to price those books at a common retail value, I would say that’s it’s about $800 worth of books. So I donated that many books because I read them already. I received some great pleasure from completing the story, finishing the series and concluding the epic journey. Reading is a lot of fun and there is no reason to with hold that fun from others and what better place is there to read than in a school library?
And now that Kindle. For instance, the prices for new releases are pretty competitive, usually undercutting eight to ten dollars off the retail hard cover price. That’s a good deal. The deals get less spectacular for new paper back releases though. The general price for a Kindle-paper-back is about $9.99 while the paper version actually remains at about $13.99, brand new. There in lies my problem. Why am I paying $10 for a book I cannot give to someone else when for a little more, I can buy a redistributable copy. I’m not even complaining yet that some Kindle books are priced at more than their paper-back equivalents despite not getting the now incredibly important redistributable property .
Kindle offers the lackluster publishing house powered method of loaning books to people for fourteen days, once. To make it apparent, you can only loan the book once to a person and you can only loan it for fourteen days. If they haven’t completed it by then, tough luck. Being publisher based, they have the power decide if the books are even loan-able in general, which is a special power they cannot exercise in the real paper back world.
My sticking point is this: Kindle books are not priced for redistribution. One of the now apparent attributes that physical books, regardless of price, is that once read, they can be given to another party. That might be selling, donating, re-gifting or whatever else. What would I settle for if Kindle books couldn’t be given the same redistributable property of real books? I would take the absurd prices of $9.99 and cut them in half or more. A book that’s physically redistributable can cost $13.99 – that’s no big deal anymore, I understand it now. But $9.99 for a book I can:
- Only read on a Kindle device or a device with a Kindle app
- Only loan for 14 days, once
I would ask for half that price for those conditions. Why? $4.99 for a book I can’t do anything with after reading it compares very well with an iTunes movie rental, or a few Redbox rentals. While it’s not really the same, renting a movie or reading a book – the scales of time are different, the premise is the same. You don’t care what happens to the content after the initial consumption. I’ll pay $4.99 for a book I can’t do anything with afterwards. I will pay $13.99 for a book I can give away afterwards.
Want to whine about the author not getting any real profit? Change the margins then. Amazon will take their customary 30%, of $4.99 that’s $1.49, and then there is $3.50 left. The publisher that really did no work at all, well, they can get their weak share of $.50. Actually, I don’t care as long as the publisher does not make more than the author.
My Kindle purchasing forecast for the near future, the next few months, is bleak. One would have expected that my purchases would increase because I have more time to read during the summer months. I doubt there will be any kindle of resolution either, so perhaps my buying spree is just about over.