21 Jul 2011
WebVivant Press has just published my first collection of short stories, Twisting Tales. I'm delighted about this because WebVivant is aimed at the market for electronic books. Although it's fast gaining in popularity, this way of reading is still a relatively new idea, so WebVivant Press wisely ensures that its publications are also available as a paper version. But as a Kindle user myself I believe that WebVivant Press is one of the pioneers of a new way of publishing.
The Kindle has many attractions which include the obvious green credentials and the possibility of carrying around 3,500 books in a device that is no bigger or heavier than a paperback. I've had my Kindle for about four months now and I love it. I'm reading more and in a different kind of way. I experiment with books I might not have previously considered reading as it would have required an effort to obtain the paper version and the electronic one could be downloaded in a minute. Now I always have a choice of books with me, depending on what I'm in the mood to read. Kindle have hundreds of books that are free, or cost only pence. With my Kindle I can have a number of books on the go at once - I can move from one book to another, cross reference (the dictionary is a wonderful bonus), and the Kindle always saves my place for me.
It seems almost too good to be true - there has to be a catch, and sadly I think I've found one, namely Amazon's pricing policy. After the first flush of downloading the free books and the books that cost next-to-nothing I started to search for books for my Kindle that had recently been published. I was surprised to discover that they weren't that cheap - maybe a couple of quid cheaper than the paperback, but not much.
Then yesterday, into my Inbox popped an email that said it had some great deals for my Kindle. I had a look - I was particularly interested in reading some of the books on the Orange Prize Short List. But they didn't seem like particularly good deals, so I had a quick look in Amazon.co.uk where I could compare the prices for paperbacks and Kindle versions.
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna is £5.11 for the paperback and £4.60 for the Kindle version. So the Kindle is 51p cheaper. Not brilliant, but still cheaper. But then ... Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson costs £4.25 for the paperback and £4.99 for the Kindle version - 74p more expensive. And how about if I want to buy the Orange Prize Winner - The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht? If I want a version for my Kindle I have to pay £4.99 as opposed to £3.99 for the paperback.
I know quite a few people who have Kindles and iPads, but I have to say that at the moment I know more people who don't. And I've also heard many people say they could never give up the pleasure of physically holding and owning a book. The jury is still out, but I believe that just as it has now become common to keep your music collection on an iPod, electronic books will become mainstream. It's just a matter of how long it takes. Almost every day there's a new electronic reading device on the market. But if we are going to be able to enjoy the advantages of electronic books, something is going to have to happen to tip the balance in their favour and price has got to be a major factor.
Electronic books make reading easy, so if priced competitively people will buy more of them. So Amazon, isn't it time to take a sensible approach and allow electronic publications to take their rightful place in the book market? They are cheaper to produce than paper books, so they should be cheaper to buy
Clare Le May