Money makes the world go round: A blog about the business and culture of all things entertaining in the world of theater, television, film, music, art, gadgets, gizmos and other life necessities (and probably other things, knowing myself)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unstable Amazon ebook prices

Growing up in an immigrant family, books helped me mesh and, at many times, escape from my new culture and surroundings. To this day, whenever I move to a new location, I pack along my necessities – clothes, shoes, computer and of course, my boxes full of books. I’m not sure what nostalgic ambiance they create, but the sight, feel and smell of them takes me to some safe place I’ve never been able to explain.

So when the Kindle exploded into mainstream culture a couple of years ago, my instant reaction was “cool,” which was soon coupled with “aw man, this sucks.”  The concept was sleek enough – convenient, affordable and all your favorite books loaded into a slim, sexy package. But the allure of the Kindle wasn’t so much that it was convenient for frequent travelers or that it was more sufficient to shove a Kindle in your tote rather than the three books you’re reading. The key appeal of the Kindle is the money everyone believes they've saved.
Ebooks are advertised to be cheaper than their hardcover versions, but recently, this has ceased to be the case. Some hardback books, such as “Don’t Blink” by James Patterson and Howard Roughan, is less expensive to buy compared to their electronic versions.

This may seem to be ludicrous since it is obvious that the manufacturing and storing of digital editions are much less expensive than the hardcopy versions. Amazon has issued statements notifying readers that the price of ebooks is set forth by publishing houses, whereas publishers are blaming Amazon for listing hardcover books way below their standard retail prices.

With rough competition from other similar electronic devices, it will be interesting to see if ebook prices will eventually stabilize. Or will it become unreliable like the recent steep discounts and soars of electronic reading device prices.

Whether it’s paying a little more or less for a book, I have stayed constant on my strong feelings about the release that a physical book can offer to a demanding lifestyle. As hard as it is to stay focused when reading from an LCD screen, I am not sure we actually read but merely scan as we are accustomed with when reading an online news source. And how proud do we actually feel when we finish reading something online? I’m sure it can’t be compared to the same satisfaction as taking an actual book (hardcover preferred) and slamming the back cover shut when the last page has been finished. Now that is satisfaction.

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