Lee Child, bestselling author, has spoken out against Amazon as the company continues its contract negotiations with Hachette Book Group. In the above video he comments that Kindle hasn’t changed the world and that there is no difference to the reader when it comes to a $10 physical book and an $8 Kindle book.
Now, let me just say that Mr. Child is a richer and more read author than I am, but coming from a reader’s standpoint, I have my response to his statements.
I was one of the first people to purchase a Kindle 2 back in roughly 2009. I actually didn’t get it from Amazon, but rather from a friend who didn’t want the device any more because she had received a new tablet for Christmas. So, I was ecstatic to have a digital reader since I didn’t have a tablet and I was enthusiastic about digital books.
What was revolutionary for me when I experienced reading on the Kindle was the flexibility that the device offered. I could customize the size and spacing of the text which was fantastic for a boy who was used to squinting at tiny text in those massive fantasy tomes by Robert Jordan and Steven Erikson. And speaking of massive tomes, I could fit entire 800 page books on my device without worrying about which one I should carry on my commute to class. I had all my books at my disposal, and that peace of mind was wonderful. I am notorious for flitting between three or four books at a time, and the Kindle allowed me to do just that.
When it came to pricing, books were very affordable for me on Kindle. For a literature class one semester, the professor dropped the bomb that we would need to run out and purchase a copy of a particular novel to read that week. My classmates groaned at the thought of running to Borders to buy one more book, but I was able to pull the book up on my Kindle in a minute and had it downloading immediately – and at a wonderful discount. Needless to say, all those classmates were jealous.
This was before the advent of all the Kindle reading apps on phones and iPads – before even the iPad existed.
I also loved the fact that I could download all the classics for free because they were all in the public domain, and furthermore, their editions on Kindle were beautiful. They still are to this day.
Yes, there is a difference between the Kindle edition and the print editions of books. Just yesterday I was at Bullmoose Books and Music picking up a special order of Dragonball that I had to have in physical print and I found myself also browsing the shelves as I can’t help myself when there are books for sale. I saw a paperback copy of Tales From Jabba’s Palace edited by Kevin J. Anderson, and I just had to have it. I looked at the Kindle edition on my device beforehand to compare prices, and the paperback edition was discounted at the store so that it was actually cheaper than the Kindle version. I chose the physical edition because I like paperbacks (particularly new paperbacks that aren’t falling apart) and I liked the feel of the paper and the scent of the book. I also went with the cheapest option – the physical book at Bullmoose. Those were my reasons.
If the physical book was too expensive, I would have chosen the Kindle edition. If the Kindle version was $2.99, it would have been more tempting. However, it was $7.99, which just wasn’t worth it in my opinion.
Would I have purchased the Kindle edition if the book was out of print? Absolutely. If not, I would have found it at the library. But, I wanted to own the volume, so that was that.
The Kindle is not a failure. The Kindle has changed the world. Without the Kindle, I wouldn’t be published the way I am and I wouldn’t have the readers that I have. I also wouldn’t have access to many of the books that I now love, most notably Edward M. Knight’s Vengeance Chronicles. Would he have been picked up by a publisher? Perhaps. But how long of a wait would I have had between books one and two? He managed to publish them within three months or so of each other. He also was able to price them affordably for me where I felt like I was getting a bargain.
Writers who claim that Kindle and eBooks don’t matter in the grand scheme of things are lying. eBooks are the future, and for many, they are the present. The Kindle has allowed many creative talents to get their writing out into the world, and for that, I am with them.