Friday, May 22, 2009

Mmm, technology

There's an interesting new feature on Amazon, where you can "upgrade" your book purchases, allowing you to view the entire contents online, make annotations, and print pages. Seems like an excellent idea, except for the price. For the benefit of viewing the books you already bought, you have to shell out some extra dough. I'm not sure exactly what the rate is, but it looks to be around 20% of the book's retail price. That's quite a lot of moolah to digitize your collection. I understand that redoing old works in new technology costs money, but there should be few costs once the infrastructure is in place. Plus, I'm sure there is the potential to have much higher volume of sales for pure digital works via Kindle and the like.

My belief is that if you buy a book, you shouldn't have to pay extra for different formats of the same thing (well, audio recordings are a bit different, as are different editions). I think a better business model would be to charge some sort of flat rate for books of different genres/lengths that is reasonable, rather than something based off of retail prices. (Actually, I'm not sure what the pricing scheme is, it would certainly be ridiculous if they charged more to upgrade a hardcover book than the identical paperback version.) As it is, I'm already miffed at the prices to buy things for Kindle. I would like to see a world where pure digital downloads are 3/4 price with the option to have the physical copy packaged and shipped for the 1/4 difference, with free digital versions included for all physical purchases.

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