I have always read a lot of novels, and I like to have a book with me for those unexpected moments when I get a chance to read. Of late this has meant I use the Microsoft Reader on my phone. It is not too bad an experience, using Project Gutenberg I can get a book (fiddle a bit in Word) and export to the Reader format. However I would like a slicker experience and be able to read new releases, so the Kindle seems just the job.

As a device it seems perfect, about the size and weight of a paperback, excellent battery life (as power is only used to turn/display the page, not to view pages), excellent in natural light and now the price has dropped to the point that if you did lose it you are pissed off, but not bankrupt. Oh and dropping in the bath, though it might ruin the device will not electrocute you!

My problem is the price of new books, take William Gibson’s Zero History as an example. On Amazon this is £12.29 in hardback but £9.99 for the Kindle edition. So from this we assume the production costs, shipping warehousing etc for the physical copy total £2.30, seems a bit low to me! How is the £9.99 justified, there will be the writer’s royalty, the file production costs and the marketing and other publishing overheads but £9.99 seems steep, especially give the royalty rate that I know friends who are writers gets for their novels. Someone is making a tidy profit, and it is not the writer.

If we look at one of Gibson’s older books, Spook Country, now in Paperpack for £2.99 we see the Kindle price is £2.84. So it seems the Kindle price is set at (very roughly) 10% below the lowest physical edition cost.

So I am being asked to buy a eBook at almost the same cost as I can get a paper copy, when the publisher/supplier chain do not have to make the physical copy or ship it. I get the convenience that I can carry around 3500 books at a time, but I can only read one! Also I cannot lend a book to a friend, thus I admit reducing the potential royalties of a writer, but also removing any viral marketing opportunities.

So should I buy a Kindle? At this price for the eBooks I think not. I will stick to buying my new books on paper and keep a selection of out of copyright classics on my phone. I will wait until the publishing industry reviews it sales model for these editions, maybe increasing the writers royalties to reflect that it is their efforts that are being purchased not examples of the book binders art!.