More thoughts on the Kindle..

Here are some thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader from Tony Leblanc of Cover to Cover Books.


Kindle ereaderI’m not sure if the purchase of a printed book includes an electronic copy – my interest is more how many printed book sales Kindle will replace. For someone who doesn’t mind reading on it, paying $9.99 for a new release instead of $26+ for the hardcover is pretty attractive.

If one looks at the music industry as a comparison, the prevalence of MP3 players and downloading music has had a huge impact on sales of CDs, etc., to the point where, here in Canada, many (if not most) independent music stores have closed their doors. Is the arrival of Kindle a sign of the same changes in the book industry in the years to come? I suspect that, as the current 20-something population ages, electronic copies of books will become more and more common. If I owned a bookstore selling primarily new books, I’d be concerned about the long-term viability of a store.

I checked some Kindle titles on Amazon, and currently there is no real savings for a Kindle version of a title available in MMPB. For new hardcover releases, however, there is quite a difference in price. I’d not generally pay $25-30 for a hardcover fiction new release, but I might be willing to pay $10 to have it downloaded to my Kindle and read it there. However, I would expect the price of both the Kindle units and the titles will drop over the next few years.

With used books, I see some other factors involved. One is availability – it remains to be seen how many older titles will be made available on electronic media in the future. I suspect that books released within the last 20 years, for example, can be readily converted to electronic format, because they were printed using computerized means in the first place. The fate of older books is more uncertain – depending on whether publishers can justify the costs involved in scanning or otherwise turning text on paper into an electronic format, versus the revenue they could expect to generate from sales of that title.

I also think the concept of paperback exchanges will continue to be popular – you can’t buy a “used” title for your Kindle, and can’t trade in titles that you’ve already read for trade credit towards new titles. At our store, a shopper using trade credit would pay 25% of cover price cash for their books, so until and unless an older title can be purchased for the Kindle for a comparable price, I think there will be a market for used books. In the long-term, I believe the market will shrink, although I believe there will always be a need for a low-cost book that a person doesn’t mind taking to the beach, reading in the tub, etc., places where I wouldn’t want to take my Kindle.

(Mind you, if Kindle DOES introduce something like that in the future, where an electronic title could be “traded-in”, and removed from your unit, with a credit towards another sale, that could change my current thinking!).
Definitely something to watch………..

related story… The new Kindle

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  • Side thought, since I don’t see it in tech specs. Many students enjoy being able to highlight books for easy studying. Can it do that?

    And ignore casual reading, the real market for this should be education. Imagine being able o stick all your college or high school textbooks on one of these puppies. Textbook manufacturer could still update annually, but at a fraction of the cost to publisher.
    Yes, the device itself is expensive, but its roughly equivalent to the cost of books for one semester of college.

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  • Printed copies have their own pros… Books that are published in US/UK and priced in $/pound are costly to people living in other countries including India. The special edition (legal) covering Indian subcontinent is much cheaper compared to original print.

    There would be no such classification in e-books!..

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  • The comparison with music is not necessarily valid. No matter how the music is delivered, the listening experience does not change. Ultimately the listener does not know if the source is MP3, CD, or vinyl (OK, maybe vinyl is discernible), because the product is ‘consumed’ in a similar manner. Reading from a Kindle versus a book is a different way of consuming the product. Actual reading patterns and mechanics will have to be altered, hence a barrier to market entry.

    However, the digitization of academic resources has already made a huge difference with respect to professional publications. Many journals do not offer hard copy at all, and in two years of graduate work in history i have yet to enter a library building, all the while accessing hundreds of journals with thousands of volumes, all searchable!


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  • Thanks for an interesting suggestion on trading the quality paperbacks. I give 25% of the new price as trade credit and was seeing how many of those books come in and not go out. By just giving a straight 2.00 credit on them I’ll be able to ‘not lose’ quite as much!!! In small town America it’s difficult to come up with new ideas for increasing the bottom line. And advertising is sooo expensive. I’m doing BOOKLOVERS Day next Sat in conjunction with Open House so am hoping for good bottom line results. Please share all ideas here. Thanks

    • Yes, the days of 2 for 1 used book plus a service fee is past; I’ve seen it go here in San Diego. We changed from that policy to our current one seven years ago, but we still have a good deal. We lost some disgruntled customers, but they came back, since there wasn’t anything else out there. For every book we take, the customer can get a used book for half our price. Our price is $3.00 for a mass market paperbacks and $4.00 for the trade size paperbacks, which means the customer can get a book for $1.50 or $2.00, with trade in. This may not work everywhere, but we make it work, because we have a large customer base. People come from all over San Diego to visit us, usually once a month or so, depending on how far they have to travel. It also helps a lot to have a computer program to keep track of inventory.

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    • I have owned a used book store for 30 years. As you know, things have changed. We also have cds, dvd, games, books on cd. We know where the cd is going and am selling them for half off.
      Our main product is a used paperback exchange. We also have hardcovers and some antiquarian… We are in a small town and am the only store like this in this area.
      Things keep changing (really?) and one question that comes up among my employees is how old a paperback do we take…some sell when they are old some dont when they are fairly new so for them it is sometimes hard to know.

      how do you know what edition a pb is when it has different numbers, or old date , but still has an obviously new price.

      just wondereing what other people do.

      thanks for any info.

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  • Seachability is the main advantage an e-book offers. Academic resources available in this form is a boon to students. Still reading a fiction or a romance novel using a computer is not enjoyable.

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  • I love my Kindle, but when it comes to finding support on the net, it has been a little lacking. There are a lot of websites now starting to post information with tips and tricks. A site that has helped me is KindleHelpdesk at

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  • I think the sales of printed books will lower now that Kindle is gaining more popularity. I have a friend who switched to Kindle and ditched her books. I myself like Kindle. However, I will never ditch my printed books for Kindle. Both Kindle and printed books have their own pros. I like Kindle because it’s so handy and I can store many ebooks. While I also like printed books because I like to fold its pages and sometimes just toss it away when I’m done reading which I can’t do with Kindle.

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  • The future of the Kindle or ebook readers in general is going to start going more toward students.

    Amazon has been working with text book manufactures and will keep adding more titles all the time.

    If you are in school, and as most students have many heavy and expensive books to buy and carry, the Kindle is going to the best thing in your life.

    Books are much cheaper, you only pack around the Kindle and forget all the heavy books, books are easy to make notes in, never lose a book or mess one up.

    The best thing about Kindle in the future I think is going to be for all the students out there.

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