Thursday, June 9, 2011


I bought a Kindle last year and I have really enjoyed reading with it. It is lightweight, the screen is extremely readable, and the battery seems to last forever. My only concern when I bought it was that not all of the books I wanted to read were available on the Kindle. But so many books were available, that it wasn't really an issue. Plus, with most books priced at under $10, I figured that the device would quickly pay for itself.

Has anyone else noticed that most Kindle e-books are now being priced at $11.99? And I'm not talking about new releases. I'm talking about books that have been out in the marketplace for years.

What really annoys me is that this price point is higher than the price of buying a new paperback. To take just a few examples:

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami: $11.99 (Kindle); $8.62 (paperback)
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell: $11.99 (Kindle); $10.20 (paperback)
Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey: $11.99 (Kindle); $10.85 (paperback)
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro: $11.99 (Kindle); $8.64 (paperback)

I suppose to deflect criticism, Amazon has been including a note next to the Kindle pricing, stating that the price was set by the publisher. But I don't particularly care where the responsibility lies, I still find it irksome, and I plan to begin reading paper books again.


  1. so true... being a long time ebook reader, i'm seriously shocked at what seems to have changed this year in the pricing.

    this blog entry captures my thinking pretty well:

    and there have been articles written about why it costs so much:

    but i'm not buying it. well, i am buying it, rather, them... ebooks. but i'm not sure how long?

  2. This is fascinating. I just started to relent and ponder picking one up, and now this. I'm just cheap enough that the price point difference does make me pause, and of course you have to factor in the cost of the device as well. The James Harris article is particularly astute, and makes me wonder if i'd like not having my books around to peruse. I mean, I don't get enough time to do this now with the kids, but one of my favorite pastimes is to peruse my old books, rereading favorite passages and rediscovering old favorites... I suppose you could do this electronically as well, but there's something so enticing about rummaging through bookshelves, be it your own, a bookstore, or the library... Hmmm. I'll probably hold off for a while longer and see where this ends up.

  3. I'd say -- think about ten books that you might want to read, and see how things price out for the kinds of books you are interested in. If you are the type of person who likes to read new releases the day they come out, buying a Kindle may well turn out to be more cost-efficient than buying a bunch of hardcovers. I tend to wait and see if a book "stands the test of time" before I buy it, and these are the books where the Kindle pricing is frustrating me. Similarly, different publishers may choose different price points for their e-books. I read a lot of literary fiction, and so Random House (or its imprints, such as Vintage) tend to be the big ones for me. But the publishers you are interested in may price things differently.

  4. My wife's Kindle crashed while we are on vacation. Vertical gray lines across the screen that won't go away.

    We called Amazon at 11 PM on a Sunday night and they answered the phone right away. They asked a few question to confirm that it couldn't be reset. Then, they said a new Kindle was on its way.

    Two big thumbs up to Amazon's customer support.