eBooks or paperbacks…

While I’m a fan of my Kindle (and the Kindle app on my phone) I still have a problem with the whole ebook pricing and licensing model and it’s best summed up with this picture…


So, I can buy a license to read the book I want (admittedly in a very convenient and handy package) for 8 bucks, or pick up a new paperback copy for half that. If I want second hand (and many of the second hand books on Amazon are indistinguishable from new) I pay a tenth of that.

Okay, so the downside is I may have a pay a little for shipping, and wait a couple of days rather than get instance over-the-air gratification but when I get it…. It’s all mine.

I don’t have to worry about a licensing issue making the book I’ve bought disappear. I don’t have to get anyone’s approval if I want to lend a copy to a friend, leave it in a coffee shop for a random stranger or sell it at our local Half Price Books to further my addiction (when I moved from Australia to the US I think books weighed more than any other item we shipped!)

I don’t have a problem with authors getting paid (I want them to keep writing after all!), I understand there are costs with marketing and distributing a book (but when it’s just bytes and electrons it’s a lot less than producing a dead tree format, and no risk on inventory) but this feels like a very one sided step into the future.

With my Zune Pass subscription I get an “all I can eat” subscription plan for music I can consume on my Zune (which also provides in-car listening), Windows Phone and laptop so I don’t worry about the fact I don’t actually own the content (though with Zune Pass you do get 10 credits a month to download to own tracks) and I know that the artists are getting paid behind the scenes

I would love a Kindle subscription service that lets me grab any book I want and read it. Every time I enjoy a book the author (and of course publisher etc) would get part of the monthly subscription (encouraging them to write better books!) and I wouldn’t have this hang-up about not being able to decide what to do with the book when I’ve read it.

I don’t think that eReaders like the Kindle are a fad. I think there is more evolution to come in both the reader hardware and the retail channels as the hardware gets smarter and cheaper and the author/reader relationship maybe gets redefined … but at the end of it all I really hope that the love of reading and the art of writing are what wins out…

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