Editor’s Note: This is reprinted, with permission, from The Lewis Four, the blog of Scott G. Lewis. P.B.
One frustration tonight. I was in a Barnes and Noble (still no coupons for free cookies or coffee, it’s been explained to me that not all stores are “turned on yet”) looking for a new book. I still have a huge backlog of Kindle books, but it was time to go ahead and buy something (no more samples). I’d bought a newspaper and a couple of magazines to try, but it’s hard to resist trying something new, and it behooves me as an eReader gadget blogger to go through the process.
I was in the store with my father, also a gadget guru (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), he had his Kindle DX tonight. At home was his Kindle 2 and his nook, as well as an old Sony eReader. Hmm, maybe he should be blogging about eReader technology instead of me.
Anyway, while browsing the new non-fiction releases, we decided to compare and contrast the two devices. For starters, the nook is tremendously faster to get on the Internet and complete searches, no doubt thanks to the WiFi connection versus the Kindle’s 3G connection.There were four books we ran across that seemed interesting:
Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank – A fascinating look through history about people perceptions about pregnancy and childbirth, including being encouraged to drink red wine, or taking morphine.
Sadly, neither Kindle nor nook carried this book. Sony and Kobo do not carry this book either. Barnes and Noble lists the publication date as 1/11/2010 for this book which is to say perhaps it will be available next week when that date actually occurs!
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea – Barbara Demick writes this comprehensive look into life in North Korea. Demick, a LA Times foreign staffer spent time as their Seoul, South Korea bureau chief. She started her research in North Korea, where she was handled so effectively by the communists that she really got to conduct no interviews and see no real life. She concluded her research back in South Korea speaking to a series of defectors.
Both Kindle and nook had this book, published on December 29th, 2009 and both had it for $14.82. Interestingly, while this is a considerable savings over the hardcover list price, Amazon sells the book for $15.60 in hardcover. Kobo has the book for $15.59 and Sony does not carry it. Ultimately, this was the book I grabbed for my nook today.
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time – If you’re interested in the science of time, this is a great book. If you’re interested in the science fiction of time, I’d recommend Doctor Who DVDs. Sean Carroll has an intriguing look that time owes its’ existence to events that occurred before the Big Bang, and if that doesn’t sound heavy you’re more of a physicist than I.
Once again, both Kindle and nook had this book, and both for the same $14.82. It sells for $17.79 in hardcover at Amazon, but again, in fairness, it’s $21.56 at Barnes and Noble, so the eBook does represent decent savings versus the local retail price. Kobo sells this book for $16.19 and Sony for $18.86. Given the heavy nature, I opted for a sample of this book and if it seems approachable without a doctorate, I may grab it.
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) – The last new release that grabbed me is a fascinating look into the psychology of value and pricing of products. One example is how Steve Jobs convinced millions of people who downloaded music for free to pay to do the same (by charging 99 cents). Another cited example is the stocking of a few obscenely expensive items in a Prada store to make the rest of the inventory seem like a “bargain” (that one may only work on women).
This book was unavailable from either device, and Sony and Kobo both failed to carry it as well. The author, William Poundstone had one book available via nook, three via Kindle, one via Sony and two from Kobo.
What can you take away from this? For one, while there’s no question you can save a significant amount of money on bestsellers when buying in eBook format thanks to the $9.99 normal selling price, some other titles are barely cheaper than Internet mail order prices – but still 30-45% cheaper than your local retail store. Also, it shows that just because you want to read it doesn’t mean you can – there’s still a lot of work left to do on book availability.
Both books in question that were unavailable had January, 2010 release dates, so it may be premature to assume they are being artificially held back from their publishers – time will tell. It is becoming a rare book that I’ll buy in hardcover rather than wait, so I hope publishers realize they are driving sales to competitors when they delay. While I intend to read both the unavailable books ultimately – it’s all predicated on remembering to check back on availability – failing that, someone loses a sale. A lot of books come out weekly that interest me, after all…