Wednesday, December 29

I don't understand

I don't understand this. (See picture) I like books, I like the physical feeling of a book, the way the light falls across the cover and pages of a book. It's always been that no matter if the book was paperback, hardback, trade-paperback, printed on a home computer, or read digitally, that you were getting pretty much the same thing: The compilation of words to convey an idea. It's the same in ANY of those formats. The advantage to Hardback is you can read it before it's less expensive brother, paperback comes out. The advantage to digital is that it's not filling up a bookshelf somewhere.

But look at this picture. I was told that it costs anywhere from 6-10 dollars to make a hardback book. The rest of the 18-30+ dollars was for paying people who worked on the book. Paperback is obviously less expensive to make (probably less than a buck) and so can be sold for a lot less. (Especially if the hardback did really well) The thing that baffles ME the most is the crazy high price (comparatively) of the Kindle editions of books. (Hit up and look around) In this instance I can buy a used copy of the book (hardcover) for $3.94. The kindle edition costs 7.79 for something that costs NOTHING to reproduce. (copy AND paste) And if I like the book I just can't hand it to a friend and say "I enjoyed this, you would like it as well." I can't turn around and resell it either. With the hardcover book I could relist it on for 4 bucks and make the cost back I spent. I could go by Half-price books and sell it there and make back some of the money I spent.

I think, while the Kindle is very cool and a great idea, that it really needs to look at competing against the paper version. (Hey, to read the paper version I also don't have to spend 130-500 dollars to read it in the first place!) That said if I ever write a book you can be sure that the digital copies will never be more than 5 bucks. (more like 2 bucks probably) It just makes more sense to me.

Excuse the rant, I had to get it out.



  1. There's a lot of debate out there about this particular issue. I can see the value, because I tend to accumulate a lot of books, but in a tiny apartment there just isn't that much shelf space.

    All the same, I don't think I'm going to be going digital. It bothers me. I don't feel like I own the material. It can't replace the feeling of an actual book in my hands or the way that a book smells. I'm not sure I can live happily in a world without bookstores. Guess I'm one of those fuddy duddies opposed to change.

    What is strange is that I didn't have the same compunction when music started going digital. No, I fully embraced that. So, why not books? I don't know... something about it just feels icky.

  2. I've been using, better prices and your choice of formats but of course not the selection of Amazon. Yeah I still like real books too but have found ebooks pretty cool when you don't live in a country with english book stores.

  3. Hey Ben,

    Here's a couple of articles that talk about this very question. Apparently you're not the only one wondering about it:

  4. I'm just so stinkin' old-fashioned. I like holding a book in my hands to read it. Reading online (or, I assume with a Kindle-type book) I don't feel like I have a "roadmap" to where I am in the book. Can't really explain that, but I just feel kind of lost. Like I said, I'm just old-fashioned.

  5. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I agree about the "roadmap" thing. When it comes to technical books (reference manuals or text books, or "how to" type books) I really don't care if they are paper or plastic. However I prefer them digitally because they are generally so incredibly BIG.

    However when it comes to something with a plot I really like to have a paper copy because of the "roadmap" effect. (Well, that and I can sell it when I am done with it)

  6. I heard a discussion on NPR about this a week or so ago. A guy from a publishing house was actually on and talked about the publishers' view of e-books:

    Also, I can say from experience that preparing book is the huge part of the work. Printing is cheap these days. The cost of the book is going to be in paying all the people involved on the front end: The writer, the editors, the people who do layout, the people who run the presses (or turn it into e-book-friendly digital format), etc. Those costs won't change that much whether you're buying a hard copy or a digital copy. If that's true, it seems like a e-edition wouldn't have that much lower costs to publishers than a print book, media aside.

  7. Reasons I like hard copy books:

    Books can be shared or given away.

    Books can decorate a room and proclaim an identity.

    Books can store memories (oh, that's where/who I was last time I read this...)

    Books are a break from work. My work is mostly on the computer.

    Books are easier to browse. My habit of occasionally reading ahead (yes, I know that shocks some people!) is enabled by physical books.

    I can be a little careless at times, and I like that I don't have to worry much about damaging a book. So I get a speck of coffee on a page. I don't have to look at that each time I read from then on out... like I would if I scratched the screen of a reading device.

    Half the excitement of a new book is its physical novelty. If the book is good, then much more of its value will be found in its actual content over time, true. If it's not great, then at least I enjoyed the cover art :)


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