Can’t Fathom why Kindle versions would cost more than Physical

** Update June 27, 2010 **

Amusingly, the day after I posted this, the Amazon price for the physical book jumped up to $10.19 and has remained there ever since.

Not saying it’s related to *my* post, but amusing nonetheless. Just saying to anybody at Amazon who happens across this, the thrust of my post was that the Kindle price should come *down*, not the other way around…

** End Update June 27, 2010 **
I was hankering for a new book to read yesterday so I went to pick up Peter F. Hamilton’s “Fallen Dragon” from  I see that the current price for the Kindle download is $9.99. But I can purchase a brand new physical copy of the book from Amazon for only $8.24. In fact fully 7 of the 22 retailers offering the book are doing so for less than the $9.99 kindle price.

Most of those are also charging shipping fees which will put them over the Kindle price. I use Amazon so much that I’m experimenting with their “Prime” service which means that I’ve already paid a flat fee for my shipping for the year so there is no additional cost to me when I purchase anything that is sold BY Amazon. It will arrive two days later for exactly the purchase price that I see listed.

With the iPad coming on the scene I’m a little surprised to see that Amazon has chosen to go this path. The price difference is trivial, only $1.75, but it certainly rankles to pay *more* for something that requires far less overhead to print, store, handle and ship than its physical counterpart. I’m sure that the price is being driven by some odd publisher-determined model.

Companies have always been in business to make money. But am I mistaken in that, in this era, they are so much more brazenly about squeezing every last penny out of you and being completely blatant about it?

Heck, I understand that both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, instead of continuing to offer a somewhat reasonable value with their unlimited plans, are looking to move BACK to forcing you to purchase buckets of minutes / data and then gleefully charging you overage fees again.

I’m personally looking for companies that I can partner with – someone that I can pay a fair price to and expect fair service from them. They make a reasonable profit and I get value for my investment. It seems many businesses today are intent only on adversarial relationships with their customers and spend a tremendous effort on extracting every last cent from you for their services. It’s no wonder that brand loyalty and customer satisfaction are so low these days. If you are squeezing your customers so hard, it does not take much to push them over the edge to find another provider or to become upset with your services. People are a lot more tolerant of companies that work with them rather than against them.

Children of Dune

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert. Yeah, yeah I know I’m *decades* behind the curve in only reading this now. I watched the Sci-Fi (now syfy – *groan*) Network’s version of this book (and “Dune Messiah”) while I was still reading the book. I recall really enjoying the movie years ago when it first aired. This time I saw the incredible gaps in the movie for those who hadn’t read the books. This seems to be the fate of Dune. Far too much detail and too many plots to translate to the screen in any but the most scant of ways.

Of course I enjoyed the book more than the movie but not as much as the original “Dune”. I see that there are plenty more books out there now in this universe (Paul of Dune, Sandworms of Dune, etc.) that I’m going to have to consider. What a great universe to take advantage of and to continue to honor long after its original creator can no longer do so!

Staying Abreast of Latest Books

My taste in books spans from the serious (such as “The God Delusion”)  through to the fantastic (pick anything by “Peter F Hamilton” or “John Scalzi”)  through to comics (such as Dilbert, FoxTrot and XKCD).

An issue I’m facing right now is how to easily stay on top of new releases by authors that I favor.

For news and most notifications these days I can take advantage of RSS feeds and aggregate them in a single place – I use Google Reader – this lets me stay on top of the latest and greatest from a wide variety of sources without having to constantly be visiting and revisiting sites checking for changes.

I believe I now own every one of the non-anthology Dilbert books available (the anthologies IMHO are just a waste of time since they just rehash comics but collect them together in a theme). So I went to Amazon expecting to find some kind of Dilbert or Scott Adams RSS feed that I could just plug into my aggregator and when a new book becomes available it would pop up for me and then I could choose whether it was something I wanted to pick up or not.

Imagine my surprise to find that this kind of service is remarkably rarer than I thought. Amazon doesn’t appear to offer anything like this, although some older message board postings I saw indicate that you used to be able to subscribe to email alerts for new Author publications.

In the case of Dilbert, I went specifically to the website to see if something was available there. Scott Adam’s is a tech savvy kind of guy – he was publishing his email address and not-so-regular newsletters at a time when most authors were still viewing the internet with fear and suspicion. But even he doesn’t seem to have this seemingly obvious sales tool available.

Has anybody found a solution to this issue? I’d prefer to have some kind of consistent centralized solution rather than having to track  down every individual author’s web site and then try to fashion something from the content therein.

I *did* find this tracker based off the Amazon site which is exactly what I want but it doesn’t appear to be functional. Probably the API on which it depends is no longer functional / available? It’s a great idea though. Free for you and me, the provider gets a modest kickback from Amazon for directing book purchasing traffic to them.

Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome!

The Temporal Void

The Temporal VoidThe Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton continues his tradition of fine multi-book series. My only regret is that I read this one now rather than waiting so that I could begin the last book in this particular trilogy immediately.
Picking up right where “The Dreaming Void” left off, this book maintained the established pace and kept going. Human civilization is hundreds of years older than in Mr. Hamilton’s earlier offerings but many of the established characters are still participating due to the technological advances already established for lengthening human life AND due to the ability folks have of essentially uploading themselves into a vast network and living a non-physical (or “post physical”) existence.
As always, the characters are front and center and the absurdities and realities of human existence no matter what the level of civilization are always interestingly portrayed in this universe.
An enjoyable read and I am on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment.

The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead by Ayn RandThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was a worthwhile, if lengthy, endeavor.
Being too lazy to actually attack this by *reading* it, I picked up the audio version. I have listened to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” at least a half dozen times over the past couple of decades. If you know me you’ll know that I don’t give up the time to do this lightly. “The Fountainhead” I found to be somewhat more preachy (yeah, yeah I know. Is that even possible?). Ayn’s never really been known for multifaceted and realistic characters, instead they all rather assume aspects of her ideology and remain focused in that manner throughout the book.
About halfway through “The Fountainhead” I had considered not bothering to finish it (it *is* just under 31 hours long after all) because the characters really are not at all accessible to me. The motivations the characters espouse for their apparently sociopathic behavior toward each other (protagonists and antagonists alike – although which are which is sometimes not really obvious) are absurd to a rational human. They make sense only in Ms. Rand’s relatively black and white conception of the world and the values that one needs to hold to be true to themselves within it.
But I persevered and was gratified by the way the story wound up finally.
I would say that it’s worth experiencing this book at least once just to get a sense of Ayn Rand’s philosophies. But I am unlikely to listen to the book again.
For someone interested in a more entertaining and mildly grayer (IMHO) view of the world I would suggest “Atlas Shrugged”.


Twilight“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer is a very quick read. I found the book to be on a par with the movie in terms of complexity. It pretty much takes a straight path from beginning to end.

I’m a sucker for any story that involves immortality and has some kind of “reveal” plot (where someone with a positive secret such as immortality or some other attribute is either discovered or must show their hand). This book definitely has both but explores both facets through the angst-ridden vehicle of a 17 year-old girl.

I swear, if I was ever happy to be a guy, I came away from this book positively ecstatic not to have had to experience being a girl going through her teens. Certainly not that girl (Bella).  I went through my teenage years blissfully unaware of most of the issues that are dwelled upon and excruciatingly revisited throughout this book. Not to mention the emotional games that are played throughout. If this is an accurate representation of what life is like for a 21st century girl, it’s no wonder that illnesses such as anorexia nervosa and other valium-requiring mental conditions seem so rife these days. That anybody could be so completely absorbed by the minutiae expressed in this book stunned me.

Fortunately, the print was large and the spacing wide so this is a fast read. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve pretty much experienced the book but with the relief of not hearing the inner angst-monologue. If movies are made of the remainder of the Twilight series, I’ll likely end up watching them as my wife finds the romantic angle somewhat captivating. But I’ll be giving the books a pass.

The Dreaming Void

The Dreaming Void“The Dreaming Void” by Peter F. Hamilton starts off a lot slower than his other works that I’ve read thus far. So slow that I was considering putting it down even after 50 or so pages. The pastoral environment that he was crafting, as it turned out for just one of his many subplots, was more reminiscent of the fantastical creations of Poul Anderson than the technologically futuristic offerings (Barsoomians notwithstanding) of Mr. Hamilton.

But after not much longer I was drawn back into his universe, set meny hundreds of years later than his last offering and including some characters (yes, they live that long) that were both interesting and, in some cases, rather under-explored. The Dreaming Void is setting itself up to be as rich and satisfying a story as any of Mr. Hamilton’s other works.

Just a warning, this is NOT a standalone book. In order to come to a satisfying conclusion you will need to read the entire series. I got into this book a *little* too soon and find myself eagerly anticipating the next book (I prefer softcover to hardcover – easier to read in bed).

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Old Man's WarI was pleased to finally read this prequel to “The Ghost Brigades” which I read last year.

Like “The Ghost Brigades” I found “Old Man’s War” to be a fairly simple story that explores a world where it is really possible to get a second (and a third and a forth..) chance to live your life.

Set in a future where the human race is competing with myriad other alien races for substantially the same resources, the humans recruit their soldiers from Earth’s seventy year olds and give them new and improved bodies to get the best kind of soldier: One that is physically superb and has the grounding and experience to understand what’s at stake and a stake in the future that they are helping to protect (they pretty much all have children and grandchildren that they want to see survive into the future).

Told exclusively from the point of view of the protagonist,  you will not get lost or confused as to what is going on. Nor is there any need to try to interpret different story threads to try to divine future confluences as you do with the more complex stories told by Peter F. Hamilton or Frank Herbert.

This is an enjoyable, easy read that IMHO speaks to issues that it is absolutely possible that the human race may face one day.

The GOD Delusion

The GOD Delusion“The GOD Delusion” by Richard Dawkins is a superb, if lengthy, look at religion from a rational point of view. By “rational” I mean to say unemotional. One of the things I really like about Dawkins is his ability to express his very well thought out point of view in a cogent and focused fashion.
He takes traditional viewpoints that are often considered as “givens” and explores their biblical roots. Often showing that the contemporary interpretations / assumptions are nearly diametrically the opposite of the expressed meanings in “the good book” or at least completely missing the point that was originally being made.
He further explores our seemingly basic need for something like religion and highlights the divisiveness of the institutions that capitalize upon that need. I’m personally pretty sure that people cannot exist without something like religion. Many people are not nearly so rational as I think Dawkins would hope. But disabusing folks of some of the more destructive aspects of formalized religion is one aspect of the book that I completely agree with and is an agenda that I hope is moved forward by its readers.