I bought my Kindle when I realised that I would be spending somewhere in the region of £200 on books that are part of The Modern Library’s Top 100 list. I figured I could get quite a few of them for free from Project Gutenberg because they’re out of copyright, and I could get the others fairly cheaply because they’re pretty old, and digital media is cheap.
I was wrong.
The prices of ebooks on the Kindle store is bordering on the ridiculous. Most of the books I want were published in the first 3 quarters of the 20th century. You can pick up a second-hand copy at any book store or market for a couple of pounds. You can even buy a copy of some of them from Amazon/eBay for 1 penny (if you don’t mind paying for the postage).
The book I’m reading at the moment is Sophie’s Choice. Amazon’s price list says that a second-hand paperback copy on their marketplace can be bought for £3.05, a new paperback from the marketplace costs £4.27, and a new paperback from Amazon costs £6.99. If you want a digital copy with no associated printing or shipping costs then it’ll cost you £6.64.
I don’t understand how it’s so expensive. I’m not taking up physical copies of the book requiring more to be printed. I’m getting a copy of a digital file. It’s sent to my device automatically by machine. There is no postage, there is no physical storage required in a warehouse somewhere. Does that really only amount to a price difference of 35p?
I’m a little disenchanted by the whole thing, but I do also enjoy owning a Kindle. It is very convenient, and I suppose that’s what I pay for. Also, I suppose the book publishers are the ones who ultimately set the prices and I’d say they’re about as far behind as the music and film industries when it comes to embracing the digital age.