It saddens my little heart when I pickup a book and see my Kindle lying unloved next to the bed, but until some quite fundamental things change, I think I will be do that more often in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, the Kindle is an amazing reading device, it really is one of the best thing to read on, ever. I prefer reading on it to books by quite a long way, but the efforts of the publishing industry and the reluctance of government to move with the times is beginning to get in the way of what should really be a pleasurable experience.
At the moment there are 4 main reasons why I am turning back to real books
- Tax: in the UK there is no VAT on real books, because sometime ago we decided books are a necessity for society to function and flourish, ebooks however are an electronic service, and we tax them – so all ebooks have a 20% VAT on them.
- Publishers: The net book agreement was broken sometime ago; mainly because it was price fixing, but that hasn’t stopped publishers putting a ‘pricing agreement in’ that means the publishers are setting the price of ebooks. (The EU are looking in to this)
That is why eBooks are sometimes more expensive than the print ones! – Why? It can’t possibly cost more for me to download something; compared to it being printed on paper, stuck in a van, sent to a warehouse, put on a shelf, taken of a shelf, put in a package, put on a van, sent to a sorting office, put in a bag, carried to my house and shoved through my letter box!
Publishers don’t like eBooks: That can be the only reason they are still not putting half the books they print out as ebooks.
Copyright law: Copyright law is stifling ebooks. Now I am a firm believer in copyright as a principle, but the current law is way too aggressive. Copyright remains on a literary works for 70 years after the author dies, even if the book goes out of print!
For the ebook world this means there are loads of books, that you can just not get, because they are out of print and no one can legally scan them in and sell them to you, and because of point 3 the publishers won’t let this slip.
This to me is a bit of an economic nonsense, you are a publisher / author your 30 year old book is out of print, someone wants to without expense to you, digitise your book, then sell it online and give you some money – where previously you had none.
This (oversimplified) is what the publishers and authors don’t want Google to do with it’s Google books library project.
The net effect of all this is:
- Books that cost more as ebooks , for example Freakenomics (paperback £5.51, eBook £7.99)
- Classic Books you cannot get eBook copies of for example Catcher in the Rye
- Books that have just fallen out of print, that can’t be revitalized online.
- Books you can’t share because publishers are scared of that too.
And I am being driven to put down my kindle and start buying real books again.