Kindle + Stinginess = Literature

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One thing I've noticed about the Kindle is that it rebalances your reading priorities a bit. As any of my friends can tell you, I'm fairly cheap, so much of my pre-Kindle reading was either library books or used books (Bookbuyers in Mountain View has an excellent science fiction selection). But with the Kindle (and in particular the fact that it doesn't let you transfer books), my options have become a bit more limited. You can of course buy books from Amazon, but there's a lot less discount than you might like and you of course can't amortize the cost over multiple readers.1 (I'm assuming for the sake of argument here that you're not interested in breaking the DRM, though a little searching suggests this isn't that hard.)

As I mentioned earlier there are a number of sources of free Kindle books. However, due to the copyright situation they tend to be predominately older books, and since they generally have to be manually converted, this mostly means "classics". Unsurprisingly, I find myself reading a lot less modern fiction and a lot more "literature". Recently, I've read Jack London's "The Scarlet Plague", Joseph Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness", "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", and "Brave New World" (I actually paid $0.99 for this at Amazon). I don't think I'm alone here, either: on a recent flight back from DC I noticed the guy next to me reading "Moby Dick" on his iPad.

1.My other big source of books was loaners from Kevin Dick, who is rather less cheap. Unfortunately, he bought a Kindle.

1 Comments

I prefer to think of our previous arrangement as I stored my books at your house :-)

I don't worry about the cost as much as you, but I noticed it changed my habits too. I'll peruse the specials in the Kindle store and have read a number of 99-cent titles that I otherwise wouldn't. I actually read Stieg's Girl with a Dragon Tattoo before everyone else because of such an offer.

Over the long term, this may make it easier for new authors to break into the mainstream. Offer your first book on Kindle for really cheap.

I also predict some sort of limited sharing model in the future. For example, you could designate three people as sharing capable for your library. This would lower the barrier for people like you to actually purchase books and tie people even more to a given platform. So revenues would increase and with almost zero marginal cost, profits would too.

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