Digital book sales in the UK rose 38 per cent last year, but they still represent a drop in the ocean. The year saw £120m in reported digital sales out of total sales of £3.1bn reported to the Publishers Association: accounting for just under 4 per cent. The book market here is actually a larger than that – the Association notes …
Prices are only likely to fall
in the competitive EPUB market, not the locked in Amazon Swindle, where Amazon can control the price as they wish (and as they need to to pay back the loss-leader hardware).
I feel sorry for the people that thought the Swindle was a great deal, and how sexy it looks with that fugly keyboard...
For goodness sake
Please get some facts through your anomised head before posting.
I have a Kindle. Have read dozens of books. Haven't paid for any. All legal.
It's quite happy reading un-drm'ed files (I use Calibre to convert and send automatically to the device via free Wifi - EPUB no problem). It also displays PDF fairly well, and has a 'free' 3G browser (which is a bit clunky but works)
Where is the swindle? Please PLEASE explain.
It would be better...
The major publishing houses are to blame for these slaes not being better.
I have a Kindle. It was bought for me by my girlfriend, even though I told her I prefered real books. Her reasoning was she didn't want all my book cluttering up the house (along with all the computer bits, bike & car parts, tools and assorted junk).
It has changed my mind. It is convenient, easy to use and easy to read. There are only 2 small problems.
The first is that I already own a lot of books. There is no way I am going to buy these books again on the Kindle. Unlike CDs (and tapes, videos, DVDs etc) there is no easy way to format shift. I feel I would be morally justified in trying to locate and download these books from the "less legitimate" sources, although others would probably disagree (including lawyers).
The other problem is price. For new releases, the eBook on Amazon is normally priced higher than the Hardback (with a note saying the price was set by the publisher). Even older realeases are often more expensive as eBooks than paperbacks. Once again, I feel I would be morally justified buying the "real" book and downloading the eBook.
The problem with that is it becomes very tempting to skip the "buying" part. They are effectively encouraging piracy with the current model. As the music industry knows all too well, once this has started, it is very difficult to stop. Basically, they are not learning from previous mistakes, and I will have no sympathy when book sales plummet and they start loosing money. I foresee it happenning rather soon if they don't get their arses in gear.
Re: It would be better...
While I agree with your argument regarding the pricing encouraging piracy, I have not seen instances were the kindle book price is higher than the physical book price.
Admittedly, I have only had my Kindle a couple of months and have only bought 4 books, and 5 magazines. The books were priced below the equivalent price of the paper book while I think the magazines were of a comparable price. Of course I don't have to pay for postage so I'm probably a few quid better off anyway.
Like you I was bought my Kindle as a present and I also have a lot of books. For reading novels the Kindle (other e-book readers are available) is excellent. As you say "It is convenient, easy to use and easy to read." I don't have to keep finding ways to get rid of books that I have read but don't have the space to store.
I strongly believe that devices such as the Kindle will be the major format in years to come but they do need to get the pricing and distribution model correct to stop piracy killing the market.
Try the free (and I think open source) Calibre, available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Makes format shifting and eBook library management a doddle. I use it with Stanza on my iPhone, my sister uses it with her Kindle. Supports pretty much any eBook format and device. Plus there's a useful support group on the Mobileread forums if you do need advice or run into problems.
Don't forget ...
Even in the epub ecosystems, prices for some books are set by the publisher, just as they are on Kindle
Publishers are doomed to repeat history (it seems)
After a few people raved about the Kindle, I decided to get one. Absolutely brilliant - completely changed my view of eBooks. For me, the #1 feature is being able to hold it while reading in bed.
Anyway, now I look at Amazon for Kindle editions, and was horrified to see some books were MORE EXPENSIVE in Kindle format, than if you cut down a tree, pulped it, prepared the paper, typeset it, printed it, bound it, and shipped it to a bookshop. Quick email complaint to Amazon elicited the information that under the retail price agreement, it's the PUBLISHER that sets the price, not Amazon. Greedy ****tards.
Also the surprising lack of some popular titles in Kindle format is annoying - but again a publisher led thing.
I wonder if these facts will encourage eBook piracy ?
Don't forget VAT
eBook pricing has to include VAT, paper books don't.
And that's the governments fault.
I wrote to my MP on this recently, he replied saying he agrees with me that ebooks should be VAT free and has forwarded my letter to the exchequer secretary (which has been acknowledged, no response yet though). I am under no illusion that I will prompt a change, but if everyone wrote to them and the exchequer received a deluge of mail then maybe...
The annoying part..
Is that quite a few books that I want to read are more that twice the price on the Kindle, compared to the *delivered* paper price, also from Amazon. That's not VAT, that's greed.
..and they wonder why people are pirating them...
Twice the price
Yep, that's it exactly.
My personal belief is that the eBook ex. VAT price should be no more than the cheapest paper copy currently available. So, for a new release, set it at (at most) the cost of the Hardback+VAT, when the paperback comes out drop it to a max of the cost of the paperback +VAT.
I also agree that VAT on eBooks is rediculous, but that's how it is. I can accept that (for now...) although it should change.
I forget how easy it is to write to my MP thanks to writetothem.org.uk
And you've prompted me to do so on the matter :-)
VAT can come down, but not go to zero
As far as I know, it's not actually possible for a government to remove VAT from something, or move it to zero rate, without agreement across the EU, presumably because of harmonisation/single market rules.
However, there has already been agreement in the EU which would allow (though not require, sadly) countries to charge VAT at their reduced rate for eBooks. The reduced rate in the UK is 5%, so it would be quite possible for the chancellor to decide to do that.
Some countries have it even worse, with VAT rates of as much as 25%, even on printed books; not that that's much consolation.
Its not just the price
The pricing situation is annoying, but I could actually live with it as I'm a firm believer in authors getting paid, and in the UK a big part of the problem is VAT anyway. But that's not my main gripe; its the ridiculous rights and availablity situation that really winds me up. I can order a physical book from Amazon.com and have it delivered to my home outside the US, but I can't order a US Kindle book (or a nook book or a Kobo epub book etc. etc.) without a US credit card (I know there are ways around this, but that's not the point), and half the time UK publishers haven't made an ebook version available in the UK even though they HAVE released the physical book. Have these people learned nothing from the example of music and TV? Ebook buyers are early adopters, by definition their inclination is not to wait, so don't piss them off so much they decide the only alternative is to go the "free" route.
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