Bookaholism and Kindle Singles

My name is Fernando and I’m a bookaholic.

I started impulsively buying books a long time ago. When I was 16 and backpacked around Europe, I bought books. They were a bad idea because I had to carry them with me for the rest of the travel, but I could not resist the temptation. Since then it has gone worse. Soon after that came the internet… and Amazon. I live in Spain, but as soon as I heard about Amazon I was hooked. I ordered books quite early and paid the extra shipment costs. Being able to wander around in such an amazing collection of books was magic.

Kindle made things even worse. At least with physical books you had to choose between a short collection with instant gratification –book store– and infinite collection with delayed gratification –Amazon–. With ebooks you get the best of both worlds. I even love the format. Hundreds of books in a small device, highlighting without damaging the book, having your notes in a central repository, multiple ways to access… And they are even cheaper most of the times! It’s paradise.

The bad things about bookaholism aren’t the direct consequences of the addiction. What’s the worse that can happen? Knowing too much about noodles? (yeah, I once bought a few books about that). The worse is the guilt and anxiety that comes with every pile of unread books, be them physical or a file somewhere.

But not everything is lost. Less than a year ago Amazon launched a new format/collection that lets me indulge in the impulse buying of books AND allows me to keep up with my reading. Almost. Enter the Kindle Singles. They are just short books, nothing really new. The great thing is that there are selected and there are a few really good ones. Some are so short that could almost be inside a magazine, but they are books. Fellow bookaholics know that magazines can’t compare to a book! And being liberated of the obligation to develop a full book, with at least a couple hundred pages, the authors write more to the point. I’m having a great time.

Kindle Singles won’t cure me. I still buy full books and my unreads list is huge, but they let me finish more books and explore more subjects, which is great. I have only read non-fiction ones because my fiction quota is still filled with a few unfinished classic science fiction sagas I want to conquer someday. But I’m sure that there are great stories being told in this format and that more will come.

Obviously, I can only finish with some recommendations:

Homo Evolutis by Steve Gullans and Juan Enriquez. Published by TED Books. Loved it! The authors expose their arguments to defend the hypothesis that humans are experiencing speciaton, the development of a new hominid. Authors promise to turn this into a new book. If only I could preorder it!

Lifted by Evan Ratliff. A must read for every thief stories aficionado. A money wharehouse in Sweden is assaulted and police investigates. It’s a real story happened in 2009.

Lost in Kandahar by Alex Berenson. War chronicle by a journalist with the troops in Afghanistan. Very interesting and well documented.

Posted: August 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bookaholic | Tags: , , | 20,305 Comments »

Amazon Needs To Move The Kindle To A Subscription Model To Save It From The iPad


A few hours ago I read Paul Carr’s column on Techcrunch about how the iPad will kill the Kindle. His thesis is that it will kill it, but not because it is a better ebook reader, which he says it’s not due to the Kindle’s e-ink, but because it will kill casual reading. He says that with a Kindle you have so many funny things to do that you’ll just no be able to concentrate on reading.

I don’t agree with everything he says in his column, but I agree with the main thesis. If Amazon keeps trying to sell the Kindle at its current price ($259 for the Kindle and $489 for the Kindle DX , Amazon affiliate links) it can’t compete with the iPad, which range from $499 to $829 but can do much more things and is trendier.

However, Amazon has an advantage: their core business here is selling ebooks, not Kindles, so they should not compete directly with the iPad. I’ve read several times lately that Amazon was trying to figure the numbers to give Kindles for free so people would buy more ebooks when they tried it. They have even tried this approach and given away a few Kindles. The problem with this approach is that you can make mistakes and give Kindles to people who won’t use them and won’t buy ebooks. And I don’t know the cost of the Kindle, but it can’t be as low as to allow this kind of mistakes.

This is where the subscription model can save the Kindle. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who buys or thinks in buying a Kindle is an avid reader. And avid readers buy a lot of books. So sell everything together. Instead of selling the Kindle and then the ebooks, give me a Kindle if I buy a subscription. They can even make tiers: if you buy x ebooks a month for two years we give you the Kindle for free, or if you just want to compromise to x ebooks in the first year you have to pay x amount (reduced) for the Kindle. I understand that this approach is not easy to implement (it’s not easy to enforce, you need credit checks or deposits…) and it’s not easy to sell. But selling Kindles is not gonna be easy anymore anyway. With this model the Kindle can’t be compared directly to the iPad on price. And Amazon would be selling reading, not a reader.

And regarding the use, I would not be worried I were Amazon. If you give people cheap Kindles they will use them. The iPad may be great, but with its price is not for everyone yet. Even if people prefer to read in the iPad, it would not be a problem for Amazon, they have already sold the subscription, so they should not care a lot if people read those ebooks on the Kindle or on the Kindle App for the iPad.

Posted: April 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14,738 Comments »