Why I won’t be buying a Kindle

Amazon announced this week that, for the first time, its Kindle ebook reader would be available outside of the US. This wasn’t much of a surprise, considering how popular the Kindle is in the US, and how eBook readers in general are gaining in popularity worldwide. Amazon are definitely doing the right thing in getting their easy to use product in front of as many potential customers (in over 100 countries) as possible.

However…

I won’t be buying one, despite my gadget addiction. Anyone who knows me knows that the ownership of one gadget does not preclude the purchase of a newer, better version. So why no new Kindle? There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, I’m very satisfied with my existing eBook reader: the Sony PRS-505. It handles many types of document easily and allows me to expand its built in memory with SD cards, such that I have over 1300 documents on it at any one time. It’s light, with a clear screen, and I have ultimate control over where I get my reading material from.

The Kindle, by comparison, does not have expandable memory and handles fewer file types (which need to emailed via Amazon’s servers to end up on your device). Further, Amazon customers buy direct from the Amazon.com online store and Amazon have been forced to admit that customers outside of the US will pay more for content – up to 40% more in some cases.

Amazon has admitted that international users of its Kindle book reader will be paying significantly more to buy books than their American counterparts.

Since announcing the worldwide launch of the Kindle on Wednesday, many users had questioned whether they would be forced to pay more for downloading books wirelessly to the £200 gadget.

The company had attempted to allay those fears by insisting that foreign users would not be paying extra for downloads – but it has now emerged that the internet retail giant will indeed be charging higher prices for consumers outside the United States.

When asked by the Guardian precisely how much downloads would cost, an Amazon.co.uk spokesman revealed that foreign customers – including those in Britain – would be paying $13.99 (£8.75) per book instead of the American price of $9.99 (£6.25). That amounts to a 40% premium for the same title.

It boils down to this. If I’m paying for content, I want to own that content and decide what happens to it. I don’t want the provider of that content to be able to switch off my access to it at a whim. I’d compare it to a Napster-type arrangement – I don’t want to pay a monthly charge for music only to have access to it turned off forever when I want to end my contract. It suits other people, but not me.

The Kindle model is a good one for many, many consumers. It gives them easy access to thousands of titles, without the need to hook it up to a computer or have access to wifi. It’s easy to use, in any number of ways. I just don’t like its built-in restrictions.

The cost of eBooks in general is a whole other debate. I can’t understand why they cost as much as (or in some cases in the UK, more than) their physical counterparts. Without a need to physically produce, transport or store eBooks, they should be significantly cheaper than paper books. Until someone challenges this pricing model (Apple Tablet eReader anyone?) the uptake of electronic books will be slow and among a minority of consumers.

  1. […] Why I won’t be buying a Kindle « MacPsych macpsych.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/why-i-wont-be-buying-a-kindle – view page – cached Amazon announced this week that, for the first time, its Kindle ebook reader would be available outside of the US. This wasn’t much of a surprise, considering how popular the Kindle is in the US,… (Read more)Amazon announced this week that, for the first time, its Kindle ebook reader would be available outside of the US. This wasn’t much of a surprise, considering how popular the Kindle is in the US, and how eBook readers in general are gaining in popularity worldwide. Amazon are definitely doing the right thing in getting their easy to use product in front of as many potential customers (in over 100 countries) as possible. (Read less) — From the page […]

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  2. I’m not falling for the Kindle, either. People in my writing group have them (old & new versions). They’re okay and all but like you, not owning my own content? That’s not cool.

    I don’t like that about Audible.com (audio downloads). I started a membership with a low price and right away realized I’d not be able to use my content how I like. I cancelled.

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  3. What’s lovely is my complete and utter a) lack of memory and b) fickleness.

    I forgot about the “turning off content” bullcrap. That’s big, as above I cancelled a different type of contract due to the issue. Harrumph.

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  4. […] pointed out a blog post of his (where I commented that I’d decided NOT to get the Kindle), which explained his reasons for getting a different e-reader. So, luckily for me, he’s here to “keep” me. I need lots of […]

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