I have a Kindle and I love it. My Kindle doesn’t raise eyebrows when I’m impatient and want a new book right now. My Kindle doesn’t make me feel guilty for taking up valuable shelf space with fluffy non-classics, or spending money to satisfy my vampire obsessed inner teenager. My Kindle is understanding of my obsessive-compulsive need to read the last chapter first, and it encourages me to mark pages and make notes in my books. Now don’t misunderstand me, my Kindle doesn’t keep me from buying actual paper and ink books, or forcing my poor family to wander through labyrinthine shelves and stacks to get from one room to another–but it has made a bit of a dent in my need for shelf space and it has made me very happy.
Last week, however, my Kindle betrayed me.
Last week Stephen King’s new book Under the Dome was released. I have been a big Stephen King fan since I was in junior high and spent two terror-filled days and nights reading The Shining at my grandparents’ cabin in the woods. King is one of my absolute favorite story-tellers. That man can spin a yarn like nobody’s business and you won’t know which way is up when he’s done with you. So I was pretty excited about this new book, especially because it seems to hearken back to some of his earlier, edgier stuff. I knew I’d want to read it right away (see the line about impatience in the paragraph above) and I knew I’d want to read it on my Kindle.
But what did I find when I went up on Amazon to download the book to my Kindle? Under the Dome, along with a few other books expected to be popular this holiday season, are not being released for the Kindle until December 24th. The reason for this (as I am led to believe) is that e-reader popularity is hurting publishers in the actual book sales department, and this is their attempt to recoup their losses.
Now, the retail world is generally a mystery to me–what with bathing suits being sold in February and holiday decorations going up in September–but are they really asking me to pay almost $400 for a Kindle, and then pay again to buy the book in hardcover? I am a book lover and I want to support the continuation of the written word, but not by purchasing every book twice. I thought the whole point of the e-reader was that books would be available instantly, easily, and in many cases cheaper because it was all electronically delivered. And that is all I’m asking… that each book be available instantly, easily, and electronically delivered.
To be honest, I don’t even care if the book is cheaper on the Kindle. It’s not about the price of the book for me. I’m happy to get Kindle books for $9.99 (or less in some cases,) but I’m willing to pay more. What I want is to read the book on my Kindle. That’s why I got it. In my view, the $400 wasn’t an investment in cheaper books later on, it was an investment in convenience and shelf space right now–and with this new development I am not getting a return on my investment!
I feel manipulated by retailers, publishers, Amazon, you name it. I have not bought King’s book in hardcover, and I’m not sure at this point if I’ll buy it on the Kindle when it becomes available. This may sound dramatic, but it’s tainted for me now.
This is not to say that I’m going to stop reading books on my Kindle; it has done its job too well, and I like it too much to give it up… But something has shifted in my psyche. I won’t be able to sing its praises so much now to those who ask me how I like it.
I don’t agree with those who say that books are an endangered species, I think we will always have books. But I think that e-readers are here to stay as well, and I hope the retailers get through their growing pains quickly, because somewhere out there in my future I have two days and two nights of Stephen King-induced terror waiting for me… and patience is not my strong suit!