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Amazon Sells More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books 111

ctmurray writes "Amazon reports for the first time ever they sold more ebooks on one day than real books. My wife is an ebook-only author and reported her largest single day sales on Christmas day, and December has been her best month ever as well. All those Kindles bought for this season are being seen in ebook sales." The battle with publishers over pricing seems to be coming to the fore as well.
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Amazon Sells More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books

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  • New feature (Score:2, Interesting)

    All "books" come with disappearing ink.

  • Greedy publishers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vvaduva ( 859950 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:42AM (#30563068)

    Why isn't Amazon getting into the publishing business to avoid all these greedy publisher problems? They have enough weight to put out ebooks without the involvement of people who seek out to drain every dollar from the author of the book, so I am not getting it. Perhaps contractual obligations prevent them from doing so, but we are no longer living in the time when only the guy with the printing press dictated how things are done. Or am I wrong?

    • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:49AM (#30563102) Journal

      First, they have to prove that there is a market.

      The eBooks publishing method and the actual recruitment of authors are two separate businesses. In the laster case, they have to build up an infrastructure of editors and associated staff, and even a financing arm (for advances).

      They may simply not want to take the risk and capital cost to get into the publishing business, preferring to do "one" thing well: distribution.

      • I keep wondering what infrastructure and financing you need if you're not dealing in dead trees and brick-and-mortar any more. Editing can be contracted out at the responsibility of the author who would just deliver a document in a specific format. Amazon would tally the sales and pay the author. That's it.
        I think publishing as a business is dead, they just don't know it yet.

        • I can see a time coming where I will want to buy ebooks over real paper based books.

          I think the ebooks market is there, but I do not think it will completly displace paper based books

          • For leisure, cover-to-cover reading material - ebooks are extremely good at the task. I adore my Sony PRS-505 that I've used constantly for the past 2 years. All the pleasures of reading without the problems involved with storing dozens / hundreds of paper books. (And it's easy enough to convert from one format to another as long as you avoid buying DRM-encumbered ebooks.)

            For reference material, where you have lots of page flipping or need to view intricate diagrams or reference tables - the smaller eb
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mista2 ( 1093071 )

        They already do allow authors to cut out the middelmen and go direct. As long as you hold the digital rights for your work, it can be easily formatted and uploaded for the kindle store, then you sit back and wait for your tiny percentage to roll in. But like with iPhones, you still have to market yourself like crazy as Amazon will put in no effort to get your book found when people are browsing.

    • Re:Greedy publishers (Score:5, Informative)

      by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:55AM (#30563126) Homepage Journal

      They are in the publishing business - it's called booksurge [booksurge.com] and is apparently in the process of being rebranded CreateSpace.

      This is print on demand, self publishing stuff but reading the above articles make it pretty clear to me that this is where stuff is headed. The big publishing houses don't make a lot of sense any more. Pretty much like music.

      • Re:Greedy publishers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by srothroc ( 733160 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:30AM (#30563334) Homepage
        How is it clear that this is where publishing is headed? This makes no sense at all to me.

        Booksurge allows for smaller runs of books with authors running their own publicity -- the only person I can think of who has done this successfully is Wil Wheaton, who had a leg up in the form of childhood fame. What it does not give you is an established infrastructure for support, connections with other publishers/countries, advances, editorial advice, and additional contracts/advertising. These are all things that I would imagine are very, very useful for writers.

        For readers, traditional publishing houses offer filters in the form of editors and the people who read the slush pile. When you buy a book from a large publishing house like Tor, Penguin, or Macmillan, you can expect a certain level of quality in the writing. This isn't say that all of their books are good or will fit your tastes, but there's a certain standard that the editors at those houses will try to adhere to; it's how they stay in business.

        To use a car analogy, a traditional publishing house is like a dealership that sells only new Hyundais; you might not like everything or the prices, but you can expect a certain standard. A self-publisher like Booksurge would be more like a dealership that specializes in selling cars built from the ground-up, or kit cars... by hobbyists. Sure, some people may know what they're doing and you'll get an amazing car, but a lot of them will probably be crap.
        • by TheLink ( 130905 )
          It could still head that way. Then reviewers and review sites might become important. You don't make as much from being a reviewer. But economists might say that's a sign of the market becoming more efficient ;).

          Nowadays I've been getting more useful reviews from food bloggers than "professional" food reviewers.

          The professional food reviewers might have a more refined palate etc, but that sometimes is the problem if you're not like them at all :).

          I've considered creating a site where everyone can review any
          • I had a similar idea, and did some initial work on it. Then along came the Netflix challenge, and I realised I was a) also lazy and b) didn't have anywhere near enough knowledge in the field. It seems a reasonable idea. Get people to review anything, align the users likes with others, then make recommendations. If it were that easy, surely someone would already be doing it...
        • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:53PM (#30563770) Homepage Journal

          "Booksurge allows for smaller runs of books..."
          It allows for an unlimited run of ebooks. This is the issue I'm talking about. As more people purchase more books in electronic format as opposed to dead tree, big publishers will become less relevant.
          There are still a number of services that a publisher can provide, and my guess would be that Booksurge and the like can or will provide them. So in a way, publishers will still exist, and they will still be a part of distribution but it is now all electronic and the payment structure will shift to reflect that.
              In the last link, about the battle with publishers over pricing, it seems apparent to me that the primary leverage the publisher brings to the table is access to the markets, but that ceases to exist with digital media.
          This should go without saying in any web forum, but I'm not a published author and I'm not involved in the publishing business. These are just my opinions as an avid reader and someone who spends a lot of time online. That said, I read the vast majority of my books off-line. The ebook readers and their functionality still aren't there for me. The ebooks I do read, I read on my laptop. I've never payed money for an ebook.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by V50 ( 248015 )

          Booksurge is great for very niche products. I've bought some stuff that was published with them, that was great, but far, far from mainstream (Neopagan reconstructionism). One can see where a publisher's resources would help (higher rate of spelling errors), but overall, I think self-publishing like that is great for books with a very specific market.

          That said, I agree with you that mainstream publishers aren't going anywhere. They do provide valuable services in terms of proofreading, editing and promotion

        • First of all, the car analogy is terrible. If you spend $5 on a book, and it sucks, oh well. Spending tends of thousands on a car is a different sort of investment.

          Secondly, you're ignoring how all of these bloggers are getting book deals: peer popularity. As soon as you have a community of writers openly reviewing each other's work, it will be just like Netflix. "Hey, you liked the book that so and so recommended - here's another they enjoyed." Click. $5 spent. It sucked! Oh well. If they were really smart

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blackest_k ( 761565 )

          you know there are things called book reviews that tend to help decide what books are worth reading. Heck if a book stinks you can stop reading it.

          Your car analogy doesn't apply, a hand built car is a one off a book is exactly the same if there are 10 copies or 10,000 copies. It helps that some authors have a reputation so generally you can expect a certain quality. Admittedly some authors are over-rated overwise i'd never have read a book by Geoffrey Archer.

          On the plus side more ebooks should make it easie

        • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

          Seems to me this is completely parallel with the music industry today..... A lot of people are quick to claim the big record companies are "no longer relevant", yet currently, it's still primarily the people signed to major labels who get the majority of radio airplay and exposure in the mass media. It's all in transition, but it's probably still premature to declare the traditional "big publishers" dead.

          I think your point about them functioning as "filters" is key. That's the real double-edged sword of

        • However where things get interesting is when you introduce amazons reccomendation engine into the picture.

          consider http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html [wired.com] , that was about a book that while conventionally published was relatively obscure being given a huge leg-up by amazons reccomendation system. Since afaict books published through amazons print on demand system automatically get listed by amazon I see no reason why the same couldn't happen for the better ones of them.

          If (and that is a big if) c

        • by MikeFM ( 12491 )
          I think something like the Apple App Store is what we'll eventually get for books. A source of easy browsing/buying of eBooks where authors can easily self publish. Like Apple they would test for minimal quality levels and allow user ratings. I'd expect about the same arrangement of 2/3 for the author and 1/3 for the seller. I'd venture to guess that if Apple releases a tablet designed well for reading (I hope they do because that is something I struggle using the iPod Touch for) that they may add eBook's
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

      Finding good authors and hooking them up with good editors is not an easy job.

      The Kindle and the Amazon web site are the only things Amazon has ever produced. Everything else, they're just a middle man.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slim ( 1652 )

        The Kindle and the Amazon web site are the only things Amazon has ever produced.

        And Amazon Web Services. You could almost describe them as a cloud computing company, who run their own e-commerce site as a reference implementation -- if it weren't for their impressive order fulfilment facilities too.

    • Re:Greedy publishers (Score:4, Informative)

      by thesuperbigfrog ( 715362 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:51AM (#30563428)

      They are in the ebook publishing business with the Amazon Digital Test Platform: https://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin [amazon.com]

      You can have your book published directly to Kindle and get better royalties than many other publishers would give you.

    • In order to cut traditional publishers out of the loop, they need to have a critical mass of Kindle users.

      What do you think is going to happen when Amazon announces that they'd be happy to give any author 25% of all sales if they publish direct through Amazon as opposed to the 5% their publishing house gives them? All the traditional publishers will immediately pull their properties off of Amazon to try to kill their new rival (or at least, try not to keep feeding the hand that is strangling them). So Am

      • What do you think is going to happen when Amazon announces that they'd be happy to give any author 25% of all sales if they publish direct through Amazon as opposed to the 5% their publishing house gives them?

        They already do

        http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=2&categoryID=12 [digitaltextplatform.com]

        "5. Royalties. Provided you are not in breach of your obligations under this Agreement, we will pay you, for each Digital Book we sell, a royalty equal to thirty-five percent (35%) of the applicable

    • to avoid all these greedy publisher problems?
      Generally authors enter into exclusive agreements with publishers so if they want to release e-book versions of existing published books then they have no choice but to work with the publishers of those books.

      Just like if itunes want the current "hit" music they have to deal with the major record companies.

    • Why isn't Amazon getting into the publishing business to avoid all these greedy publisher problems?

      What makes you think that Amazon isn't going to become as greedy as the little "greedy publishers" themselves? After all, this is essentially what happened the last time Amazon felt it had enough of a foothold with web affiliates. Once affiliates had invested enough time and money to build up their infrastructure customized around Amazon's technology, Amazon unilaterally decided to drastically cut down their c

    • by Shagg ( 99693 )

      They have enough weight to put out ebooks without the involvement of people who seek out to drain every dollar from the author of the book

      What makes you think Amazon won't seek to drain every dollar from the author as well?

  • I'm curious to know how many people bought both paper and electronic books. I'm more than hesitant to spend a large amount of money on electronic books that come with DRM and/or oversight.

    • Well, fortunately, even if you don't own a Kindle, you now can just get the Kindle for PC copy of any book you like and pull the DRM off [slashdot.org]. And if you have a Kindle, you've been able to do the same for nearly as long as the Kindle's been out.

      • Is it easy to strip DRM on the Kindle? It seems like it ought to be something you could add to the device itself :)

        • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @05:51PM (#30565842) Homepage

          Seems that way, doesn't it... :)

          Incidentally, I happen to agree with you that DRM, in general, is awful. But the truth is, for the most part, DRM just isn't a workable technology. So as long as an option exists for me to strip away the DRM on the content I purchase, I'm largely indifferent. That said, until it was clear that the Kindle DRM was thoroughly hacked, I was largely in the "not for me" camp. But now, I'd definitely consider it (once the price comes down a bit on the device), just as I'm happy to purchase DVDs.

  • public insanity? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Joe Sixpack:

    Monday: "Hmm... it turns out that buying DRM music was not a good idea. It's caused all sorts of problems for other people. From now on, I'll just buy plain mp3's!!"

    Tuesday: "I want to buy some e-books. Hey, maybe DRM will be OK there!!"

    Seriously, after the Kindle debacle, why on earth would anyone support that platform?

    • Re:public insanity? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:01AM (#30563162)

      Hate to break it to you, but Joe Sixpack isn't that savvy. He doesn't know what DRM is, and he hasn't a clue what fucked up his music. Same thing for Grandma Jones. They're more likely to think it's somehow the band's fault that their CD didn't work, and will never buy their music again, in any form. Or they believe that the CD player is broken, because the disc worked in a different player.

      Also, bad as DRM is, most people actually don't have trouble with it.

      • by slim ( 1652 )

        Also, bad as DRM is, most people actually don't have trouble with it.

        Sufficient people had trouble with it, that Apple dropped DRM from iTunes Music Store.

        My guess is that enough customers started kicking up a stink when their DRM'd AACs couldn't be played on some arbitrary MP3 player.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 )

          I think it had more to do with the record labels allowing it. Remember, when iTunes Plus came out, it was basically just EMI artists that were available DRM-free. After EMI didn't go out of business, and the other labels decided to allow Amazon to sell DRM-free tracks (to break Apple's hold on the digital market,) only to realize they didn't go out of business, they finally gave up and let Apple do it too.

          The motivator behind DRM in music was the labels, not the distributors. I think that the same thing

    • I'm thinking (the people who use bittorrent to get all of their media) and (the people who buy eBooks for their Kindle) are generally two different crowds. Kindle users are probably the type who got all their music from CD's and iTunes and never noticed DRM because it doesn't stop you from playing your music on your iPod.

      The only reason it affects me is because I like the media to be editable. For instance, if I had a Rocky DVD, I'd edit it so it ends with Rocky saying, "I'm scared, okay?" and then the cre

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ObjetDart ( 700355 )

      I guess I'll wade in here with a perspective. I'm someone who has been violently opposed to any DRM in my music files, and never bought a single track from iTunes in my life. I'm also a Kindle owner who happily buys DRM'd books from Amazon all the time. How can this be?

      The difference I guess is how I want to consume the two different types of media. I want to be able to play my music again and again, now, and 20 years from now, in my car, on my media player, on my 4 different PCs, and on my living room

  • One day only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:57AM (#30563142) Homepage
    It makes sense that ebooks would outsell regular books on Christmas.

    How many people actually get online to buy regular books on Christmas day? The presents for others have already been bought. They aren't likely to get anything for themselves. Heck, unless you got a Kindle for Christmas you aren't likely to even go to the Amazon website on Christmas day. Most people are spending time with their family and enjoying the presents they DID receive. The people that are more into physical books likely got some physical books from friends or family. But the ones who got a Kindle will find it pretty useless until they put some books on it. Sure the gift giver may have put some books on there to begin with but more likely they gave them some cash or gift card to select their own books with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      If you got an Amazon voucher for Christmas, you might go to the web site on Christmas day and order something, but given the fact that it probably won't ship for a few days there's no rush. It's definitely not as much of a draw as wanting some eBooks for your new Kindle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sporkinum ( 655143 )

      I got an Amazon voucher for Christmas, but I can't think of anything I want or need from there.

      BTW, maybe the reason kindle books sold so well, is because the regular books were covered by dreck like this.

      Amazon.com's Hot Holiday Bestsellers (Nov. 15 through Dec. 19, based on units ordered):
              * Books: "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin; "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown; and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

      • by Z8 ( 1602647 )

        I get it, you hate Amazon, but your post doesn't make any sense. Maybe the mods meant to give you Funny instead of Insightful.

        First, Amazon sells millions of books as well as mp3s, computers, household appliances, groceries, and sports equipment. How can you not think of anything you want even for free?

        Second, how are the millions of regular books being "covered" by a few titles you don't like? It's not like Amazon has made their website hard to use.

        Third, you can buy Dan Brown and plenty of bad author

        • Actually, no, I like Amazon. I just think they are being disingenuous with their statistics.

          I'm sure, eventually, I'll come up with something to buy. Just right now there is nothing I need or want. Unfortunately, that is why I ended up with a gift certificate. I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I genuinely could not come up with anything to tell them.

          The quote from Amazon on their best sellers was just a poke at what is popular. Those same books probably sell in the same proportions at other store

  • !sales (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone ( 582566 )

    Of course none of those sales are really sales - they're just rentals: no lending, no resales, no giving them to a friend or leaving them on a train for strangers (never mind still being capable of being deleted by Amazon as they see fit).

    At least they're cheaper than buying a real book though. Oh wait.

    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

      You can simulate all those things on a Kindle by deleting the e-book.

      Seriously, loaning a book to a friend? Wave goodbye to that one.

      • >You can simulate all those things on a Kindle by deleting the e-book.

        What are you talking about? A Kindle ebook is tied to the account for which you can only have 6 users who then share everything - ideal for a family - not so ideal if you're looking to lend a book to a friend. Deleting the book on your Kindle in no way simulates selling the book: the prospective buyer can't read it unless they're using the same account; same with giving the book away: you can't. So how exactly does deleting the book on

        • *WOOOOSH*

          You never get books back from your friends. Deleting the book has the same personal effect as lending it.
          • With friends like those, who needs enemies? Ok, that might be a stretch, but my friends and I all share books and we actually give them back, either when we are done with them or when they are asked for, so I have no problem seeing the difference between loaning books and deleting books on the Kindle.

    • At least they're cheaper than buying a real book though. Oh wait.

      I see the book my wife gave me for Christmas is cheaper as an ebook: $9.99 [amazon.com] vs $15.47 [amazon.com]. $9.99 doesn't seem like a bad price out of hand, although $6.99 or $0.01 would be even better :)

      Now, I realize that's a sample size of one. I'd be interested from Kindle readers whether the books you actually buy tend to be cheaper than the hardcopies?

      • Kindle books are almost always cheaper than the new print equivalent (used print books are cheaper).

        There are many good books available on Kindle offered for free on a promotional basis. Usually these books are the first in a series. I grabbed a copy of Manifold: Time for free during a promotion and ended up buying the other two books in the series, Manifold: Space and Manifold: Origin for $6.99 each.

        There are also sample chapters available for most books so you can read the book before deciding to purcha

      • As another kindle user, yes, ebooks tend to be cheaper and it certainly saves $$ never to be paying full hardback pricing ever again. Honestly, I've stopped buying any physical books at all. Everything goes to Kindle, and unless I really want a particular book, I never pay more than $15 for one (non-technical books) and most of the time pricing is in the $6.99 - $9.99 range.

        Honestly, the biggest problem I've had is that while most of the books that I want are available in kindle edition, not all are. Als

      • That must have been the hardcover edition of the ebook!

    • Re:!sales (Score:4, Funny)

      by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:02PM (#30563488)

      "or leaving them on a train for strangers"

      Of course you can. You just leave your Kindle behind.

    • Just download the PDF file from the Web or P2P after you paid. Then you have the best of both worlds: Peace of mind and a book that nobody can take away from you.

  • Misleading.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by KronosReaver ( 932860 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:02AM (#30563170)
    Just like iTunes, Amazon generates a zero dollar sales receipt when you download a free Ebook from them. And there are plenty of those to be found, mostly the first book in a series... "Hey Kid, The first ones FREE." - but we will be counting it as a "Sale".
  • TFA says that Amazon sold more ebooks than physical books "[o]n Christmas Day" only. Which makes sense, considering everyone is flush with gift certificates and Exmas morning s probably the slowest mail-order purchase day of the year.
  • Why does the summary of this article, along with most articles on e-books, mention Kindles as if they're the only e-book reader out there? Are they really that prevalent? Personally, I love the concept of e-books but don't like the way Kindle is designed. So I have a Sony Reader that I'm very satisfied with. More publicity for the Readers, I say!
  • Where is the catch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by giladpn ( 1657217 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:28AM (#30563320)
    Lets all look around us; people who read books have not moved en-masse to e-books. So how come Amazon is announcing sales of e-books have surpassed regular books?

    There is a trendiness effect. People who usually do NOT read books may still buy an e-book reader for someone else... esepcially on official toy-giving day a.k.a xmas.

    Sure, eventually e-book readers make sense and will replace paper. I'm just saying that day is not now.

    In fact, by the time e-book readers replace paper, they may look like paper themselves. There is a tech trend towards computers that are as thin as a sheet of paper...

    Personally I like paper, so I will buy an e-book when it catches up and becomes as thin as paper. Not long to wait - a year or three.
    • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:33PM (#30563664)

      Depends where you are, and the type of reader crowd you are talking about.

      I've been in cafes where the ratio of Kindle to print readers was easily 2:1, and probably higher. If you travel a lot on business, the numbers are clearly through the roof on flights. That makes sense -- lugging books on business trips is just lousy.

      What Amazon has said repeatedly is among the demographic that tends to buy a lot of books, the Kindle is taking over. Its telling when they can release numbers showing that 1/3 of their sales of books where electronic copies are available are electronic.

      Nothing in the article suggests its replacing paper now, they're just saying for the first time they sold more ebooks than real books on a day, regardless of the reason. Thats still a significant step.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by masmullin ( 1479239 )
      "becomes as thin as paper"

      My PRS 505 is way thinner than a 500page book.
  • Not Surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rehnberg ( 1618505 )
    Actually, I'm not surprised. A lot of people would be getting Kindles on Christmas, and would need to fill them, whereas I'm not sure how many people need to order books ON Christmas, since that's when the books would be given.
  • Kindle Prices ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:29PM (#30563644)

    I got an Amazon gift certificate for Christmas, because Amazon has no mechanism to gift Kindle books (which is strangely shortsighted, but not the topic on hand...)

    I did buy one book with it, but three other books I was going to buy the kindle copies were substantially more than the print copies (in one case, more than double the cost -- $19.97 versus something in the $8 range for a *hardcover*!)

    I'm not sure if others have noticed, but lately Kindle books have been trending upwards in price, and its pretty common now that paperback editions are less than the Kindle copies, whereas six months ago they tended to be cheaper, if only by a nickel or something...)

    I don't know if prices jumped on Christmas because they expected this, and will come back down, or if these higher prices I noticed on that day will persist into the new year. I'm not sure what Amazon is thinking -- gaming prices is a bad idea when you start getting competition that people actually are talking about.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure if others have noticed, but lately Kindle books have been trending upwards in price, and its pretty common now that paperback editions are less than the Kindle copies, whereas six months ago they tended to be cheaper, if only by a nickel or something...)

      No I hadn't noticed. Since you mentioned it I looked at a dozen or two of the Amazon bestsellers, and a bunch of other random books, and couldn't find a single one where the Kindle price was more than the paperback price, if the paperback is currently out. (I found one book where the list Kindle price is higher, for a paperback due in Feb 2010, but when the paperback comes out I'm sure the Kindle price will drop as well). Pretty common? How about some links to these examples, I can't find any?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Roogna ( 9643 )

        While the sales have apparently ended, most of December the -hardbound- of Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel at either Amazon or B&N was cheaper than the respective eBook versions. Granted without the sales going on the eBook is now cheaper, but one does wonder why the digital copy would -ever- be prices higher than any
        other version.

    • Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have a pretty good lock-in on the eBook market right now despite any potential price gaming. They're still much cheaper than the Sony Reader store for most books; Books on Board manages to offer slightly more competitive prices than Sony, but they're not as cheap as Amazon.

      Amazon seems to be maintaining its competitive pricing on books, even in the eBook arena; and, other stores are either unable or unwilling to follow suit.

  • by n0dna ( 939092 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:40PM (#30563690)

    I got a Sony PR-505 last year and have yet to purchase a single ebook.

    The DRM bothers me, but there are enough python scripts running around that will strip it out of the epub/pdf formats that it's not that much of a concern.

    Price is why I don't buy them. While there are a handful of public domain books worth reading (opinion) the real content is only for sale.

    I just flat-out refuse to pay 50% more for the same content in basically the same format that the publisher already has filed away somewhere. When do you think the last time that a major popular author wrote out a manuscript on a typewriter was? Or longhand? You know it's already in an electronic document format somewhere.

    No printing, no binding, no shipping, no stocking, no returns. No fuel, no toxic waste from the paper making process, no toxins from the inks.

    Yet I get to pay 50% more?

    • what are you talking about? I've purchased 4 books for my PRS 505. 3 were $1 each, 1 was a bestseller still in hardcover for $9.99. I just did some surfing of the eReader site, and everything I saw was $9.99 or less.

      I dont know about where you live, but softcovers are usually $11.99 and hardcovers are usually $30 here in CND.

      Yes, the books should cost $6.99 each, but 9.99 isn't so bad.
      • by n0dna ( 939092 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @01:23PM (#30563990)

        That's my point exactly.

        If the physical paperback is $7, why is the ebook $10?

        Yeah, it's only a couple of bucks, but if the ebooks actually cost $3 more apiece to produce, I'll eat my hat.


        • What? the paperback is $11.99. the ebook SHOULD cost $7, but it doesn't.
          • by n0dna ( 939092 )

            Sorry, near me in the US, the paperbacks usually go for $7.

            That makes the $10 nearly 50% more.

        • That free international cellular access doesn't pay for itself, the servers dishing out the content don't pay for themselves and, as much as we don't like it (and it shouldn't be there) that DRM software doesn't pay for itself.
          • by Mista2 ( 1093071 )

            Amazon shot themselves by forcing the kindle to be cell phone wireless only rather than allow 802.11x wifi as well. Servers and bandwidth - books are tiny compared to music and movies. I get 20G from my webhost for $15/month. That would host 20,000 book downloads or more. DRM - introducing their own costs again, Amazons own fault. No reason at all why ebooks couldnt be $0.5 each and still get more mony to the author than with a paper book. Making this inexpensive would also fight piracy, why waste all that

    • I have never bought an e-book either. However, I did order over half a dozen books from Amazon this month, one as a gift.

      Amazon's used books are the best I have found price-wise besides thrift stores, and with thrift stores you can only buy what is physically there.

      Most older books can be had for a penny plus $3.99 shipping (media mail).

    • by FLEB ( 312391 )

      What's more, you can't get ebooks secondhand or closeout. Forget 50% markup-- aside from programming manuals and the like (which usually only go closeout once they're obsolete), I get sticker-shock just looking at the MSRP of most paper books.

      However, one thing to keep in mind is that for Kindle books (and others, I imagine), there is some extra work involved in reformatting them for ebook readers. I've heard gripes and annoyances from a friend of mine who had to beat a book into shape for Kindlization. Whi

    • by trawg ( 308495 )

      I just flat-out refuse to pay 50% more for the same content in basically the same format that the publisher already has filed away somewhere. When do you think the last time that a major popular author wrote out a manuscript on a typewriter was? Or longhand? You know it's already in an electronic document format somewhere.

      Neal Stephenson apparently wrote the entire Baroque Cycle by hand using a fountain pen. Old school!

      For me the best solution to the ebook price debacle would be to sell ebooks at the same price as regular books, let me download the ebook instantly, and then send me the paper book in the mail. I like having the paper books around. It's like when I buy CDs - I get the CD, rip it, then throw it on the shelf never to be used again (unless I lose my mp3 collection or something).

    • On Amazon for the Kindle in ebook format:

      1. Thousands of public domain books, for free.

      2. Thousands of small publishers and indies have really taken to Kindle and priced their offerings at the $7.00 and lower, many at $0.99 to $2.99. You can download the first three chapters for free to see if you want to "risk" your money on an indie. These people have all tried to get regular publishers to take them on with no success. They realize how broken the middleman to publisher to distributor model of publis
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        Nobody has mentioned Baen Books and Webscriptions yet? Inexpensive, DRM-Free science-fiction & fantasy eBooks, lots of them. Sure, they don't specifically sell Kindle-format through Amazon, but wait--they have DRM-free MOBI format, which *IS* Kindle format minus the DRM. And you can load it on your Kindle.

        Me, I have a Sony PRS-505, because I didn't want to be locked into Amazon's proprietary format and ugly-ass eReader.

  • Amazon doesn't care about the Kindle. What they want are ebook sales and to sell ebooks, you need an ebook reader. So, Amazon created one.

    Amazon would be thrilled if Apple came out with their own ebook reader and it drove Kindle sales down the drain as long as all those new Apple ebook readers got their books from Amazon. And guess which retailer will make a mint selling that Apple ebook reader? (Hint, their name begins with "A and ends with "N").

    Ebooks for Amazon means no warehousing, no stocking, no shipp

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This is pretty much obviously not true. If it were then they would sell ebooks in a format that any other reader could use (pretty much ePub, at this point).

      They don't, they use a proprietary format that no one else is able to use. Thus I assume that they are not *just* after selling electronic copies of books.

      I don't remember the exact time line that the Kindle was released. I think that Sony hadn't yet started to move to ePub, and nor had many others. In which case they should have stuck to ereader
      • Actually, since Kindle format is MOBI with Amazon's special DRM added, once you strip the DRM you can convert it to ePUB and use it on other readers. Not that that's how Amazon intended it to be done, and it's a lot of hoops to jump through, but...

        • Very true, but surely the point stands - if they just wanted to seel ebooks they'd have gone with at least their own and others (epub), if not just jumping on what is rapidly becoming the standard (epub).
  • I've been looking through my collection of eBooks, all but one non-DRMed Mobipocket or PalmDoc format, and the first ones I got were in January of 2000, right after I bought my first PDA. For me, eBooks were the "killer product" for a PDA.

    Near as I can tell the big reason these things haven't taken off are:

    1. The format wars. We need an "MP3 of eBooks". Mobipocket format is pretty common, and it's good enough.

    2. The price. People aren't going to pay higher-than-paperback prices for an electronic book. They know how cheap electronic distribution is, that needs to be part of the deal.

    • Exactly.

      I received a nook and I gave one and one of the drawbacks is the price of the ebooks. Except for crap like Twitlight which is a few dollars - most of the books I'm interested in are $9.99.

      It does support the EPUB and PDF and has no apparent DRM so it has it's advantages. I don't consider it a dud either. I don't read as fast as I used to and flipping a real page is just about the same time as the reader takes to show the next one (i think it's in the 1/2 second to second range) It does need a
  • It's all in the wording: "More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books", "sold more ebooks on one day than real books".

    They aren't saying that people would suddenly rather buy/receive ebooks than regular books for christmas, they are saying that ebooks are an option for last-minute shoppers on christmas day. Basically ebooks are an alternative to buying gift cards, due to their instant delivery.

    • I expect you're right. I (and a number of people I know), purchased Amazon Gift cards at the 11th hour.

      Convenience and rapid availability would apply very well to any dowloadable media.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      It's all in the wording: "More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books", "sold more ebooks on one day than real books".

      They aren't saying that people would suddenly rather buy/receive ebooks than regular books for christmas, they are saying that ebooks are an option for last-minute shoppers on christmas day. Basically ebooks are an alternative to buying gift cards, due to their instant delivery.

      For last minute gifts, yes.

      But... given few stores are open on Christmas, is it any wonder that these services have a

  • And with everyone pretty much having to buy their college textbooks for next semester in paper form, that's pretty unusual. I would think that's a huge portion of the sales. Factor that out and it's probably an even bigger digital to paper ratio for just novels and stuff.
  • Why would many people be hopping on the web to order stuff on Xmas? They're playing with their new toys. A lot of those toys will be Kindles. And a lot of the people firing up their Kindles for the first time will want to get some books on there.

    What kills me is the fact that Amazon is still charging TEN DOLLARS PER TITLE for most books. And people are PAYING it! It's pure, unadulterated bullshit. There's no reason (other than greed) for the price of ebooks to be so high. Absolutely none. They shoul

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While i agree it should not be more expensive to get the e-book format, your rationale is possibly based on a false assumption; You assume that a books cost is $X because of the cost of shipping paper, printing presses, ink, etc. However, the actual physical costs associated could be pennies on the dollar of the retail cost (just like creating a CD is only pennies), while the lion's share actually goes for publishing percentage, editor fees, and the like.

      It still doesn't make sense, unless of course the leg

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Delivery costs for any book delivered from an online retailer are at least 10 pounds in the UK by courier for delivery within a wekk. Even more if you want next day delivery. Books from the local bookstore are about the same as the online retailer - though this depends on the location. I found that ordering books from the campus bookstore was more expensive that the downtown store, along with writing pads and pens. Both have to pay for commercial leases, but you have to handle the delivery to your home your

    • Amazon are actually losing money on most of their $9.99 books (at least for the ones that are selling at the same time as hardbacks). They get them at the same price as the hardback, which is around $12.

      I think Amazon are doing some bad things at the moment, but they are not driving the price up, they are making a loss to drive it down.
  • for various people for presents and not one of them was an Ebook, or from Amazon for that matter.
    B&N and the local book store were the benificiaries of my business this year. I recently had a return item fiasco with Amazon...I sent the item insured and registered, they received it, and signed for it then claimed it never arrived.

  • Sure, they probably sold a few Kindles this Christmas. But my guess is they compare annual low with annual high here. Who the fuck buys paper books on Christmas day?!
    - You're guaranteed a long wait for the item to arrive in the post due to holidays.
    - You're busy with whatever family-holiday thing you do.
    - It's a bit late buying that book as a gift.
    - If it's for yourself, you probably bought it already.. when you bought Christmas gifts two week ago.
    - You've already got lots of new stuff.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser