For some time, I have been looking at the Kindle, and wondering if I would get on with it. Packing away my books last year, many of which I knew would never be re-read, made this even more relevent.

A little while back, I actually downloaded the kindle software for my HTC Desire. While knowing it won’t be the same experience as a proper Kindle, I was surprised how easy it was to read on the Desire. Not wishing to buy yet another gadget I would get no real use out of, I thought I would see if I made use of the Desire at all, by downloading a few free books.

I’ve been carrying around some H. G. Wells and Jules Verne for a few months, and haven’t even thought of sitting down and reading, even when I was away from home, with nothing better to do. Was it that eBooks simply weren’t for me, or was it the books themselves?

Recently I have been working through a pile of paperback thrillers by Michael Connelly, and really enjoying them. I had read a couple of his books before (Lost Light, The Lincoln Lawyer), and picked up about 6 “Harry Bosche” paperbacks in a second-hand store over a year or so – I have only just gotten around to reading them.

Having the taste for them, and knowing there were more around, I thought “I know, I’ll download one, and read it, and that will see if I like the eBook experience”.

This is where the plan came to a stop. On Amazon’s website, I can buy the Kindle edition of Connelly’s “The Scarecrow” for GBP 4.49. The paperback is 4 quid, new. Another one I haven’t read is “The Brass Verdict” – Kindle edition 6.99; new paperback 3.89.

Although I wasn’t expecting Kindle to save me money, I didn’t expect it to be more expensive!

I think I will scrub the experiment, for now.


  1. chris
    January 15, 2011

    One thing that I have learned is that although books are zero rated for VAT (in the UK), eBooks are not, and thus will be 20% more, all other things being equal.

    To my mind, that isn’t my problem, the publishers should price their goods accordingly. It also doesn’t excuse a 80% price difference.

  2. January 15, 2011

    Yes, there’s a lot of publishers charging the same or greater price for ebooks. It seems in at least some cases to be “clueless prats” rather than “thieving gits”.

    It’s particularly silly considering the amount of legitimate free material that is available, from the out-of-copyright stuff on Project Gutenberg all the way to the newly-published stuff on the Baen Free Library.

    And then there’s the problem of limited formats (I gather the Kindle is particularly bad for that) and the various “copy controls”. And Amazon deleting content which has already been paid for!

    By the way, if you need to shibboleet on the HTC Desire, now works for HTC tech support (in Tennessee).

    • chris
      January 15, 2011

      I have to admit, for a long time I took the attitude that a phone is a phone, and I didn’t need a device that did this that and the other.

      Then the company upgraded our phones to HTC Desires (it’s always been a work phone, I don’t own a personal mobile), and I was quickly drawn to the dark side. While I was setting up work email on it, it was trivial to set up my personal email too (both use IMAP), I stopped carrying a separate MP3 player almost immediately, and it has now soaked up most of my casual browsing.

      I have an Asus EEE upstairs that hasn’t been charged for about 4 months, as everything I used to do on that, I now do on the Desire.

      The only downside is that my mobile use to be switched off, unless I *wanted* to be contactable. Nowadays, it is switched on a lot more, so it easier for people to get hold of me, darnit.

    • chris
      January 15, 2011

      I also have Aldiko installed, which is particularly useful for grabbing other standard eBooks, including a lot of free stuff. Still haven’t used it a lot, though!

  3. January 15, 2011

    In an interesting example of synchronicity, may I point my learned friend at this item, which appeared on my DW reading list today? *g*

  4. January 16, 2011

    When I buy a book, part of my reason for paying (especially hardback prices) is because I expect to be able to still be reading that book in 20 or more years time. With the Kindle’s DRM and Amazon I wouldn’t know if I could still read it tomorrow, they might pull it back or just discontinue it on their server (and the probability of any computing device still working and being compatible after 20 years is pretty small).

    As well as most of the books I have physically (I think it’s still ‘most’) being very unlikely to ever be released in e-book format. At best someone might illegally scan them in (with all the OCR problems) and put them up for torrents, but it’s unlikely. Or I could scan them in (destroying the book in the process, a lot of them are too fragile to open wide enough for any domestic or affordable scanner), which according to the minimum estimates I’ve seen would cost me hundreds of pounds in time alone to scan, OCR and proofread.

    (The main reason I would like electronic versions of some books would be so that I could correct the errors which get through proffraedres even at major publishers and annoy me. But then I’d want to print them out and bind them…)

  5. Jo
    January 18, 2011

    I’ve had a Kindle for about 6 months now, and I can’t fault it. Being in Ireland, I have to download from the US site, for copyright reasons – but I have no problems finding enough good free books and ones which cost only €1. I carry around the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, a load of cookery books (handy when in the supermarket and trying to remember that must-have ingredient) – and it really comes into its own when travelling. Usually I buy at least 4 paperbacks at the airport – and then have to lug them around – the Kindle is much more convenient.

    The battery lasts for ages in between charges – they say up to 4 weeks, but I use a cover with an in-built light (powered through the Kindle), so I usually have to charge it up once every 10 days or so.

    I’ve currently got 82 books on my Kindle – once you’ve downloaded them you’ve got them, they don’t get deleted (although they may from the Amazon site, I suppose – so it’s possible at some point I might not be able to download them again, not happened yet).

    I admit I read a lot of trash novels – murder mysteries etc. – and until now they’ve been cluttering up the house as I find it impossible to throw a book away, even if it’s awful! The Kindle has stopped my house overflowing with books!

    Another advantage is that you can download the first chapter of most books for free – a try before you buy option – very useful when trying out new authors!

    So, I guess it depends on your reading habits – I still buy some ‘real’ books – the River Cottage Handbook series, for example – but for everyday (well, every night, in bed, usually) reading – I adore the Kindle!

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