[FoRK] Kindle price slashed...

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Thu Oct 8 15:33:04 PDT 2009

On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 4:56 PM, Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> wrote:
> A few random responses and thoughts on DRm, Ebooks and editors/filters
>  There is a lot to be said for editing/filtering/peer reviewing not
> just for books but for music, art, tech docs, email posts, etc etc.
> As with much of what is being gnashed about on the ebook front, the
> music front has already tested the waters, paved the paths and set up
> out posts where folks cna buy souvenirs . ...

Absolutely.  100% agreed with this and the rest of the message.  Baen
Books was an early player in the ebook market, and one of its more
libertarian authors convinced Jim Baen to skip the use of DRM.
They've also made good use of the ability to copy books for free --
they distribute CDs with earlier titles bound in to many of their
hardcovers, give away all books free to disabled readers, provide
subscription, advance reading copies, and free options for some books,
and more.  They've been doing it long enough (and Jim Baen died, so
this had to continue with new management) that it must be at least
moderately successful.

Suvudu has made good use of the "first taste is free" model -- a
number of free books distributed directly and through the ebook
vendors, most titles being the first in series that are also available
in ebook form.  Somewhat surprising since it's owned and run by Random
House.  It's relatively hard to find that information, since the site
links extensively to other SF/Fantasy sites and looks like most
fan-driven sites.  Not an "information wants to be free" approach like
Baen's, but what I hope is a sensible approach to marketing and
promoting books in the era of iTunes and ebooks.

I think we'll see more sites like Suvudu.  There's "One dollar Orbit"
which promotes one book each month for the low, low price of $1.  The
Suvudu books tend (not 100% though) to be somewhat older, so perhaps
we're getting books closer to their market peak.

This is likely to follow, as Tom wrote, much of the same path as music
did.  Video is still mostly locked up by bulk and paranoia, so perhaps
books will be the next to drop DRM and other clumsy attempts to
control the market.

Why now?  It took a while for the technology to become good enough to
replace the physical book experience for most people -- the Sony 500
was still too slow and somewhat cumbersome, the newer 505 is oodles
better.  It's also taken a while, but the price is definitely coming
down, with Chinese ebook readers that cost $200 or less.  My guess is
that we're really close to a critical point in terms of quality and

When I was down in Sao Paulo last week (not a common occurrence),
several of the guys there were quite interested in my Sony Reader.  In
fact, even with the salary differential, the price was fine (not
including the likely import taxes, though), but the Reader isn't
available many places outside of the U.S.

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