Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kindle 2

This week’s Economist has a good piece on the Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader, and its implications for book publishers (and, by extension, authors). There has been a lot of hype about e-books for years now, but the Kindle 2 has a lot going for it:
. . . it appeals to passionate readers, who want no fiddling with cables (the Kindle works without a computer) or complicated pricing plans (Kindle users pay to buy books and other content, but do not have to pay wireless-subscription fees). It is, in short, perfect for older people. . .

The Kindle 2 can hold about 1,500 books, and one battery charge allows two weeks’ reading. And since the screen is not backlit but imitates real ink and paper, Kindle owners can read for hours without straining their eyes. . . this does not seem to spell the end of paper books, since Kindle users buy just as many bound books as before, so that their total consumption of books goes up by 2.6 times.
Bound books are expensive to produce but each electronic copy is free. As the Economist puts it, “A book sold via a Kindle thus has no marginal cost, but adds revenues.” I can’t find out where the money goes, as neither Amazon nor the publishers will say how revenues are shared. But I shall be very interested to see how the royalties are split between publisher and author.

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