back to article Kindle beats Apple's closed book on choice

Despite the fact that our gadgets increasingly multi-task as cameras, phones, email devices, and more, we continue to accumulate different devices to serve different functions. Perhaps because of this multi-device reality, those digital goods vendors who persist in seeing the world as one big Apple iOS party are likely to lose …


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  1. Chris Gray 1


    The Kindle has a nice size E-Ink screen. It's much better for book reading than the smaller, light emitting iPhone or iPod screens. An iPad has a better size, but it is still a highly reflective light emitting screen. It simply doesn't work anywhere near as well as the Kindle's screen in bright light, and studies have shown that screens like it give more eye strain than the non-emitting screen's like the Kindle's.

    I have a Kindle, and find it quite readable. Much nicer for long-term use than this computer screen, for example. Also, the Kindle is quite light (weight-wise), so works nicely for holding.

    1. The First Dave

      @Chris Gray 1

      What does the physical Kindle device have to do with this? As I understood it, the author was saying that owners of an iPad are more likely to buy an eBook from Amazon than from Apple.

    2. dssf

      I don't know where all those iPads are, but i see PLENTY of

      iPHONES on public transit, but at most i see 1 iPad per day on a train and almost never on a bus.) When i say PLENTY of iPHONES i am saying clusters of about 3 to 6 on any end or middle of a MUNI LRV. Whereas last year and in 2009 i observed things, i might have seen only 2 to 4 iPhones on either END of a train, and sometimes the same number on BART. Nowadays, it's either end AND the middle. On buses, I see maybe 4 or 5 max.

      However, as for Kindles, I see 2-3 a day on either of those transit vehicles. As for seeing iPads in Borders before they shuttered their downtown SF locations, I would see 2 to 3 at a time starting from release date.

      There are a couple of coffee shops i visit, and they are mostly or almost exclusively ithis/ithat although 20% might be generic win-based PCs and virtually NO win-based nor Android-based tablets -- yet.

      Interestingly, this individual (I cannot tell if it is a man or woman, honestly) who USED to carry and dotingly use an iPad in the morning for several months and lug a laptop or book tote now only carries a reader.... Kindle, and NO lugged electronics. So, that person appears to have NOT upgraded to the iPad 1.5, er, umm, two.

      At any rate, Apple execs and designers must be wetting their pant and spraining their wrists when the look at the iPhone -- and to some extent the iPad -- signal blobs on a real-time wall display. Sure, there are maybe 5x as many non-Apple phones on a transit vehicle, and a very packed train of some 200 people must have some 30 or 40 iPhones in each car, but those non-Apple phones are fragmented across different OSs and styles of phones.

      iPads, however, seem to suffer from price and glare and random if not increasing new reports of thefts (at weapons-point) of Apple products in SF. One or 2 people were even home-invaded and relieved of their goods. Kindle might be less tempting a theft target, I suspect.

  2. Chad H.


    It's sometimes said that people won't pay for sync, and that they don't value choice. Kindle's ebook sales compared to Apple's iBook sales suggests otherwise. Syncing across different devices matters. Choice matters. The proof is in the sales figures.


    See this rock? It keeps away bears! Well when was the last time YOU saw a bear? The proof is in the bear attack figures.

    You need to prove causation if you want to do more than suggest a link.

    1. Getter lvl70 Druid

      Saw two actually...

      ....last week. Of course I live out in the woods anyway - so what's your point?

      Oh, and you may want something a little more powerful than a rock if you decide to 'commune' with them. Two years ago a couple of kids were killed by a bear a few miles down the road, rocks don't work.

      Just pisses them off.

      On topic: What causation? Apple is locked down hardware and software - always has been (eh, the mac clones did happen for a while before Steve killed those off after his return). Who won the desktop wars? Microsoft. Why? Simply because you could install it on damn near anything x86. Same principle here. Amazon will win the ebook war over Apple because Steve hasn't learned a damn thing and his ego demands that it be done his way.

      Amazon has a superior product both with the Kindle itself and their marketing that mirrors what MS did in the 80's and 90's, only seemingly without the intent to destroy somebody (Netscape, Apple,etc).

      1. Chad H.


        You're just suggesting a link. The claim was that its sync and ability to use on multiple devices that pushes more kindle sales, not a larger range or any of the other advantanges that kindle has over iPhone.

        If a high powered Red car, and a Cheap red car are both more popular than a green car thats expensive and underpowered, is it because red cars are superior>

        If you want to prove a link, you need more than sales figures. Show me a survey of Kindle users who say that its the ability to use on multiple devices thats the key factor in buying their books, and then I'll believe it. Until then, its an unproven hypothesis.

        1. Getter lvl70 Druid

          Mkay. Let's begin

          Surveys are unscientific and can be manipulated by fanbois of any stripe to 'prove' anything they want - that would be your first argument if anyone did provide a survey so where do we go from here?

          I purchased a Kindle for my wife because 1. pained me to see her reading off her BB for hours at a time. 2.The option to install Kindle software on anything I choose to (and do). 3. Amazon is more realistic on their prices and the free book selections change regularly. 4. Readability on the Kindle in bright or low light areas. 5. Competition is more expensive and/or hardware clunky.

          You're being anal about the 'key factor' nonsense - it may not be The Key Factor but it's part of the equation, a very large part.

          As an aside, global climate warming change is an unproven hypothesis by your definition, no surveys proving Pi = 3 by popular vote, nada.

          1. Chad H.

            @ Getter

            Your last paragraph just destroyed any gain you made in the previous paragraphs. Those things can have their causation proved by scientific tests. Oh look, each time I have a circle the radius and Circumfrence remain in the same proportion.

            You can say I'm being anal all I like - the author has made an assertation he claims to have proven, but hasn't.

  3. mucksie2676

    Is sync really the reason?

    I'm curious if you have considered the fact that reading from a kindle e-ink screen is infinitely better than reading of an LCD/LED screen, regardless of the resolution.

    The e-ink makes for a far superior experience than the Apple, Android or other handheld or tablet devices.

    This, I think, is the crux of the 60:1 ratio cited by the author in your article.

    Would like to hear your thoughts on that perspective.

    1. ThomH

      Completely agree

      With both mucksie2676 and the other posters making the point that correlation is not causation and, even if it were, taking the one difference in abstract is massively overreaching.

      From a completely subjective point of view, I live in London, in a typical London sized property. When I bought books, I tended to read them once or twice, maybe keep them on a shelf for a while but eventually give them away — either to a friend or via those handy Oxfam collection bins. I don't have the space to keep every book I've ever read and I don't really have the desire to. I have a bunch of reference books that I'll probably keep forever but they're in the minority.

      Hence, I really don't care about portability of my e-book purchases. I have a Kindle and an iPad, and tend to buy a few books a month on the Kindle but have never bought any at all on the iPad despite downloading the iBooks app and trying the sample copy of Alice in Wonderland. I have the Kindle app for the iPad too, but doubt I've opened it more than about twice.

      It's simply that the Kindle is by far the better reading device. It's a much more convenient size for public transport, you quickly forget that it's a screen you're looking at because the type looks a lot better (ie, you can't see the pixels), and the screen is visible in direct sunlight and doesn't attempt to blind me when I'm reading at night. So, it's more convenient: (i) on public transport; (ii) in the park; and (iii) in bed. Which is a clean sweep of my normal reading environments.

      I guess it's nice to know that my purchases will someday be portable should a better device come along, but as I've yet to read any of them more than once I'm not really that bothered. It's actually much more bothersome that I can't pass them on having now finished with them.

    2. Jon 52


      I know about 5 people with a kindle and another 5 that read kindle books on their android or PC. I think the fact that amazon has two markets where as apple has access to one also explains the trend.

  4. miknik

    Kindle kicks ass for ebook

    I love my Kindle, for reading ebooks nothing comes close and I wouldn't consider buying an ebook for a different device. The fact it syncs and if I get caught out and about with a few minutes to kill with just my phone I can keep reading on that is an added bonus, but even without that I would still be Kindle all the way.

    It's small, its cheap, no-one thinks you are a wanker for having it out in public and you are unlikely to get mugged for it. Little wonder they sell like hot cakes.

    Stands to reason that if you can sell ebook readers by the bucket load you will also sell ebooks by the bucket load.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doubt it's choice

    I really doubt it has much to do with choice.

    Sure if Amazon let Apple sell their iBooks on the Kindle maybe it would help, but in most people's minds Amazon = books and that's where they go.

    They even promote them alongside the physical ones, something Apple can't do.

    I have an iPad and have tried the ibooks app, but couldn't find any of the books I wanted. That's also not helping. Of course since then I've hardly used that app anymore and just go to Amazon.

    Same thing with iTunes and Amazon MP3s.. Guess which one is more successful? (hint: it's not the one which gives you more choice)

  6. Jeff 11
    Thumb Down


    Kindle books available everywhere? You mean 'everywhere' that has a Kindle DRM-encumbered app, perhaps? The Kindle format is a closed, DRM-encumbered format that doesn't (AFAIK) work on any other dedicated ebook reader.

    1. Eric Hood

      The wombat is required, and must contain insects and/or plants.

      You can have an e ink ebook reader use amazon files it is not allowed to use the ADEPT stuff at the same time. The hanlin readers have several different firmwares that can handle all sorts of stuff but you have to re flash the firmware to change.

    2. quartzie

      Re: What?

      True, but Kindle owners would hardly feel pressed to buy another ebook reader. The "choice", as pointed out, stands for other classes of devices, meaning your PC, your tablet-smartphone and your Mac.

      DRM might be a hassle, but since there are applications which allow you to read the protected books on other non-ereader equipment, you certainly have some choice. Just the ereader has to be courtesy of Amazon, and Kindle is incidentally one of the best ones on offer, especially with the free worldwide 3G package.

      While I'm not very happy with Kindle's obstruction of DRM EPub, especially in light of possible library loans, I do understand Amazon's wish to protect its market share. Besides, publishers do not seem too eager to allow electronic library loans any time soon.

    3. DF118

      Exactly what I was going to say

      Matt Asay's comments on Apple are fair enough, but to hold Amazon up as the shining example of an "open" alternative is just sloppy. What's the point of allowing people to read their "Kindle(TM) Editions" on other devices if they can't even buy them in the first place without having a Kindle registered to their Amazon account? Also, if you look at the discounts Amazon offers on Kindle editions, it's pretty clear they are shredding the publishers and authors for every penny.

      Amazon should be applauded for raising the popularity of eBooks and readers, and bringing some serious competition to the reader market with their heavily subsidised hardware, but nobody - least of all El reg - should be giving any false impressions about the Kindle system's "openness".

    4. ZankerH


      'Everywhere' as in Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OSX, iOS, Blackberry, Android and Windows Phone 7. I don't see why they would support their direct competitors in the dedicated eBook reader market, though. Besides, you're free to use DRM-free books that work on just about any hardware if you're that bothered by it.

    5. David Evans

      @Jeff 11

      From Amazon's perspective availability of .azw on other physical ebooks is a non-issue. It might piss YOU off as a user of one of those devices, but the game has already moved on; the Kindle reader is kicking every physical ebook's arse, and Amazon have wisely realised that the game isn't going to be in that market anyway, which is why they've launched apps. I have an ereader that can read amazon files and epub and every other file you care to throw at it; its called a smartphone.

  7. SuccessCase


    Or the fact the range is so much better from Amazon. Most likely a combination of the two but I think the range is the most important factor. Why? Because most people will only have the one device and the syncing problem is, sadly , for most people "abstract". The range of available books is a more immediately apparent problem though.

  8. David Webb

    Almost agree

    I almost agree with you, I don't want Apple any of the time (happy N900 user), I have however purchased an Android tablet for those times when my N900's screen space just doesn't quite cut it for me, although odds are my niece will use it more than me.

    I also have a camera for taking good photos (and my N900 for quick photos), I'll use the Android as a book reader though (screen space) and purchase consoles (although the N900 can emulate a PS1 oddly) for games.

    I think the point is, having one item to do many things makes that object master of none, it can be decent at everything but it can't do everything you want it to do, so you find stuff which fills the gaps in your requirements with devices that can fulfil the purpose at hand. For me, that was reading ebooks (maybe should have gone Kindle, but I'll use the Android for other things).

  9. Buzzword

    Kindle reader

    "On their Android device. On their iOS device. Even on their PC."

    How many Kindle users are actually reading on multiple devices though? The Kindle reader device itself is far and away the most popular e-book platform. People simply don't want to read novels on their smartphones. Lighting the screen all day will quickly drain the battery on an iPhone and there are too many distractions - another round of Angry Birds, or a quick browse through status updates on Twitface. The Kindle's advantage is the absence of distractions or interruptions. It does one job and it does it very well (and at a great price).

    1. Stephen 10

      I'm a data point

      "How many Kindle users are actually reading on multiple devices though?"

      1 here, if my kindle isn't with me, I'll continue reading on my Nexus One when commuting. Sync is very useful when the older eBooks don't have page numbers (caveat being I have leave wifi on, on the kindle and have data reception from voda - which isn't a given)

      1. goldcd

        Could have been my post

        Probably >95% of the time I'm reading books on my actual Kindle - but I have the app on my PCs and Nexus. Is very nice, when you're at a loose end, just to be able to pick up where you left off for the odd 10 mins.

    2. Bill B

      Umm .. me

      I have an iPhone. I use the Kindle app on IOS and on PC. Sometimes I read on my phone (battery is adequate for the 2x40 minute train rides). Sometimes on my netbook.

      Going for the Kindle app was a deliberate choice. I read about 3 books a month. Over a year that is a lot of money. If next year I go for an Android phone or I but an android tablet I don't want to have to throw all that money away. With the Kindle app I wouldn't have to. With Apple's ebook I would.

      My other big regular purchase is music but at least that is no longer DRM.

  10. technome
    Jobs Halo

    Disingenuous, to say the least...

    The reality is more complex than the author cares to admit.

    Kindle purchases will only work on kindle apps, albeit on different platforms, and those kindle apps will not display DRM-free epubs. That is a very real attempt at a lock-down.

    Non-DRM epubs, and there are increasing numbers of smaller publishing houses that are selling them, will work in many applications on many platforms, including iBooks on iOS.

    My reader of choice, by a long chalk, is iBooks on the iPad but I won't buy books from there until Steve persuades the publishers that DRM-free is the way to go, as he did with music.

    Until then, I'll frequent the smaller publishers. For example, Lightspeed Magazine has supplanted Analog as my regular SF quick-fix and, when I really need a mainstream title, I buy from amazon, strip the DRM and read it in iBooks.

    1. Ezekiel Hendrickson


      "Kindle purchases will only work on kindle apps, albeit on different platforms, and those kindle apps will not display DRM-free epubs"

      Technically a true statement, but still somewhat misleading. Kindle apps will not display DRM-free EPUBs because they are a viewer for a different format. They will happily display DRM-free Mobipocket books.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Confused by your argument

      Yes, Kindle purchases only work on Kindle apps. I can see that.

      But Kindle apps don't read non-DRM files? Where do you get that idea?. The most popular Kindle app is the one on the Kindle device. My Kindle is full of DRM free stuff - (it also displays PDF's) I have no problem reading any stuff, and if the book I want isn't in the right format, Calibre will convert it automatically for me. All without DRM, and all work fine on the Kindle.

      As for Kindle apps on other devices, whuh? If they don't display the format of your choice, there are apps out there that do. Not sure where the lock down is, except for DRM stuff, which is sort of how business works. Point being, there is a Kindle app for most devices, so you are not limited in where you can read with DRM, and there are apps that read any other format you may want to have.

      The eInk screen advantages over LCD or similar are covered above, so won't go in to that.

    3. ZankerH


      Yes, and those non-DRM ePubs can be easily converted to a kindle-compatible format (.mobi) using free software.

    4. GarethB

      drm free epub not an issue

      Who cares if the kindle doesnt support drm free epubs. Just run it through Calibre and convert it to .mobi.

    5. Liz 1

      kindle apps will not display DRM-free epubs....

      but free apps like Calibre will translate any DRM free format (including epub) into mobi, which is supported by kindle.

  11. Efros


    epubs on Android with aldiko, Kindle books can be easily unskindled to allow reading on non kindle apps.

  12. mraak


    Reading on iPad in the dark is like having 5 flashlights pointed in your face.

  13. Morningstar

    Not Just Kindle

    I have the Sony Pocket Edition, didn't want WiFi, didn't want 3g, I buy my books from many places depending on price. I use Calibre on my desktop to sync to the Sony, my Desire, and N900. I don't use Kindle software other than for downloading books I buy from Amazon, on the Desire I use Aldiko and on the N900 I use Dorian.

    Unfortunately the ebook market is screwed thanks to his Jobsness, forcing publishers to go down the agency route so he can be sure of his 30% take, essentially fixing prices for all users of ereaders. I hope the enquiry into ebook pricing gives the publishers and Apple a kicking, Until that ends I'll stick with sites such as Smashwords and feedbooks.

  14. Michael Duke

    Kindle user here

    If you have a DRM free ePub book then there are simple tools out there for a convert to Mobi pocket and then you can read it on you Kindle HW.

    I read the same books on 3 devices, my Kindle HW (long sessions), my Laptop (Lunchtime at work) and my Blackberry (Sitting in a shop waiting for food or the wife clothes shopping). The page sync feature is great and I would hate to not have it available. Turn on the WiFi on the Kindle when I pick it up for 2 mins and again just before I finish reading and I am up to date everywhere with no real impact on battery life.

    Would not trade the Kindle platform for anything.

  15. jamie 5

    An title

    To describe Amazon's Kindle platform as open is disingenuous.

    (I have a kindle - I love it)

  16. sleepy


    I don't know how the endgame will play out, but 60:1 doesn't actually mean much. Amazon set out right at the start of dot com to be the world's biggest book retailer, and for buying a book they of course offer the best experience. I suspect that in dollar value, the physical book:ebook ratio is also not much closer than 60:1.

    Amazon cross-subsidizes and sells ebooks below cost; Apple doesn't. Amazon wants to be a content distribution near-monopoly, Apple doesn't; Apple is a platform company, Amazon isn't. Amazon wants to distribute on every available platform. Apple doesn't distribute on other platforms, but wants to define a user experience on their own platform with which other content distributors must compete. Apple's ibook store is a service publishers can use or not, but Amazon is company book publishers cannot currently live without.

    IOS device users are far more numerous than Kindle device users, and spend far more on content than the average Android device user. I suspect IOS provides Amazon with more than 50% of Amazon's entire Kindle ebook sales.

    Amazon has never disclosed how many Kindle devices have been sold, or what is the breakdown of Kindle ebook sales by platform. They can't be that proud of these data.

    The print publishing business is burying its head in the sand over book downloads and very likely Amazon will take control, just as Apple did with the music business.

  17. Matt Brigden

    Wouldnt buy an eBook device

    I have a Galaxy S and contrary to what others have written it works perfectly well as a reader . I can read an entire book without flattening the battery . Works great in bright light and what eye strain ? Set it to night mode , black screen/white text and its all good . I use Aldiko as my reader app and run my books through Calibre eBook Manager on the pc which rapidly converts format to format which means I can get ebooks anywhere and use them regardless of format . As for drm worries just strip it out if it bothers you .

  18. h4rm0ny

    Glaring assumption

    The author seems to just assume that it's to do with syncing et al., that Kindle ebook sales outstrip Apple's. I find it far, far more likely that it is because the Kindle not only wipes the floor with the iPad for reading books on, but goes so far as to scrub the walls, ceiling, down the halls and out of the front door. There's no way I would want to spend extended periods reading a book on the iPad (assuming the battery life could manage that). The Kindle - certainly!

    A beer for Amazon - top notch customer service and a great device.

  19. Tom Kelsall


    ...something which Apple will never understand that consumers want. Choice and flexibility.

    At least Amazon have ensured that their proprietary, DRM "encumbered" (PAH) platform is as widely available as possible. I have no issue whatever with copyright holders protecting their IP and ensuring that payment is received prior to consumption... but Apple's approach is STILL one of forcing you to buy their product as well if you wish to use a particular Apple service. Amazon have taken a much more consumer friendly approach to their "lock down".

    Regarding eBooks I'm in agreement with the masses above; the picture is far more complex than your article would suggest. The Kindle's display is why I read books on my Kindle as opposed to my phone (regardless of delivery platform)... I almost NEVER use the Kindle app on my iPad/iPhone/Android/PC - I just pick up my Kindle.

  20. Julian Lawton


    Much as I like the device, I'm loath to start buying Kindle books, for much the same reason that I never bought anything from iTunes while there was DRM - I'm happy to carry on buying Apple's shiny devices, but I don't want to be locked into them.

    ('Apps' are a different matter, in that platform is still materially important).

    Interesting patent the other week on combining e-ink and LCD into a single layered display, which could answer a lot of technical reasons for keeping your ereader and tablet separate.

  21. Stuart Duel

    Outrageous Price!

    I looked at some titles on the iBooks store but was turned off by the outrageous prices the publishing houses are forcing Apple (and I imagine others) to charge.

    Take away the cost of printing, storage and distribution of a physical book and the price should be significantly lower for an ebook.

    Sometimes I'm faced with the same choice when buying a music album.

    For an extra couple of bucks, I'll just go to my local book store until they get real on the price.

    1. Bill B

      cost of printing

      This has been a topic of discussion before. I think that the costs associated with printing account for about 10% of the total cost of producing the book.

      Yes, I was a bit surprised by that as well

  22. spegru
    Thumb Up

    Multiple Devices

    I've just been using Kindle's multi device capability.

    1. An actual Kindle - brilliant for outside or at least where is reasonably well lit

    2. Archos 101 Android 10" Netpad: V Good for armchair use, but alot heavier

    3. HTC Hero Android phone: Great for when I'm travelling really light

    What I really like is that all the platforms even remember what page I was on!

    By the way, yes Amazon uses DRM, but in fact you can read non DRM books as well. Using Calibre (Win, Lin + Mac) you can also easily convert / sync.

  23. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    In which part of the world?

    The Kindle is limited to the US and the UK. And, as Amazon reserves the right to delete content from a device without the user's consent, the claim of it being more open and free than Apple is rubbish. Making their software available on other platforms is exactly the same kind of gatekeeping that Apple does with itunes.

    Price is certainly a factor with Amazon already able to able to sell the Kindle at a loss in the knowledge that it will make money on future book sales. Also, as has been noted by others e-ink is a better reading experience in bright light. Not sure whether it matters for others but a sense both of robustness and replaceability for a device designed to be used outside is important to me. I also do think nerds with shiny shinies are more likely to get into conversations with envious knuckle-draggers as the things are so easy to nick.

    I'm currently happy with my Sony reader although I would prefer a larger screen. The PDF reflow is fantastic and it has just enough "touch" control to be useful.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Limited to US/UK?

      I must have imagined that I just received one in France this morning, then.

      You can only *buy* from the UK or US site, but you can have it delivered anywhere...

      1. David Evans

        @Uncle Slacky

        Unfortunately that will be where your problems start. Thanks to the ridiculous rights landscape, if I buy a US edition Kindle, I can't put US edition books on it without a US credit card.

  24. Andy E

    Wrong end of the stick

    I have a Kindle and several Apple devices. The Kindle is by far the best device for reading text. It is the quality and readability of the screen that decides which device is used as it's the users experience that counts. The fact that I can read the books on multiple devices is a nice to have but not a compelling feature as I use the Kindle for about 95% of the time to read the documents.

    I think if tablet makers can use an e-ink type of colour screen then they will displace dedicated e-book readers but until that time, e-book readers will continue to be around.

  25. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Well, I don't have any DRM books

    For the same reason I don't have any DRM music; I rip music from CDs I've bought and I scan and OCR books from books I own. Epub for the Sony Pocket (PRS-300) has a perfectly good display, thank you, recharges once a month, and holds five hundred books.

    While I have the choice I will not download either music or books.

    To be honest it wouldn't even occur to me to read a book on the computer (except for proof-reading and preparation) or on an ipad or similar (even if I owned one).

  26. Thecowking

    I don't care about the cross platform malarkey

    And none of my kindle owning friends or family bother with it either. I realise this is purely anecdotal, but the reason I use my kindle to buy and read books is because it's perfect for that role. It's 3rd gen and I honestly can't see many ways they could improve it for the role of displaying and purchasing ebooks and newspapers.

    I'm a little confused by the DRM "lock in" and encumbering comments though, it's not like you can only read DRMed books on the kindle, it reads open MOBI format files happily as my mass plunder of Gutenberg shows.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the publishers

    I doubt this is a technical issue per-se, though the anywhere principle of Kindle *the app* is a good one.

    I think Apple are mainly getting stung by the publisher lock-ins and relationships with Amazon. Once Apple start to get those relationships, the 60:1 ratio will change. And as previous posters have noted - they could even swing it their way by running DRM-free.

    If only they could do something with the damned price too - I still can't get over the premium for ebooks.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the display really

    Those of you reading ebooks on phones/pc don't really "get" the idea of a dedicated ebook reader. I didn't either until I was given a Kindle.

    E ink is simply staggeringly good - no backlighting required so no eyestrain, easily readable in direct sunshine. Until you use an e ink device you won't "get it" either - you may think you do but you REALLY don't.

    I don't particularly like Amazon but they're OK for books - after my experiences with them I won't buy anything other than books from them - so the Kindle is a good match. Given the choice between buying a reader from Sony or from the world's largest book retailer is pretty much a no-brainer.

    The Kindle "shop" needs work though as its not the easiest to browse - its fine if you know what you want or the book is very recent. Might just be me I suppose

    Its nice to come across a product which focuses almost exclusively on its core features and doesn't try to be jack of all trades. Kindle fits the bill there although addons ("experimental" or not) like the web browser are best left unused except for emergencies. E ink and websites are not a good fit ;)

    If I have one serious gripe about the Kindle its the keyboard. I find it pretty much redundant and I'd prefer having either a larger screen or a smaller overall package. An on-screen keyboard would suffice even though the screen isn't touch sensitive.

    @Sleepy who's coming out with garbage about users of IOS devices being responsible for >50% of kindle book sales - you win today's prize for the most blinkered and ignorant fanboi :D Most of the rest of what you say is garbage too - never try to run your own business is my advice to you.

    1. Michael Vasey


      It's not just you. The Kindle shop is terrible and their categorisation system is just plain broken. Wrestling books in the boxing section. Makes perfect sense to someone, I'm sure. I do like my Kindle but the store is dire.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Do you also.... as I do?

        I just use a PC to browse the normal Amazon bookstore, then when I find something that looks interesting (and isn't on Agency Pricing) I type it into the Kindle and do a preview/buy. Hardly seamless is it?

        Kindle shop does throw up some gems though - The Takeaway Secret (Kenny McGovern) is my best find so far. Admittedly it wasn't in a category that had anything to do with the subject matter (cooking) but it was there - and for the princely sum of £2.09. I think at the time I was looking at sci-fi but I couldn't swear to it now.

        That was 48% less than the printed version which frankly is the sort of discount people should be seeing on small publishers/niche markets when they opt for an ebook rather than physical book.

        1. Michael Vasey


          Pretty much. Just plain browsing the Kindle store is a hopeless job. I have to search for specific titles, authors, or topics to get anything useful. They really need to work on that because it's the one thing about the Kindle experience (well, other than the ridiculous pricing of some titles, but that's outside their control as I understand things) which is obviously sub-par.

  29. Eponymous Cowherd

    The fly in the eBook oinkment

    Apparently authors and publishers are starting to panic about eBook piracy:-

    Not realising that the problem is probably of their own making (well, as far as the publishers are concerned). The "Net Book" style cartel certain publishers have forced on eBook retailers results in eBook prices exceeding, in some cases, hardback prices:-

    note the "This price was set by the publisher"

    Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I take exception to paying more for a couple of MB of data than I do for a thumping great 640 page hardback book. Particularly when the publishing and distribution costs are tiny compared to the hardback.

    The price of Surface Detail in eBook form is particularly irksome as there have been may complaints about the quality of the conversion, so it seems the publisher couldn't even be arsed to proofread the digital version properly, despite its premium cost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      EU case ongoing

      The EU competition commission raided a load of publishers recently on the matter of book price-fixing.

      Agency Pricing IS illegal, just like the old net book agreement was. In a couple of years publishers will bin it and pay the EU a few hundred million euros - won't get the consumer their money back though will it?

      Whenever I see a book I want to buy thats on agency pricing I make a point of finding it for free. Its not hard to do.

      If possible I will email the author and make it clear that while I might read future books of theirs I will not pay for them again.

      I realise that the author didn't set the agency pricing but frankly I don't care - they chose the publisher, not me. The publisher isn't going to listen to you when you say "I'm not buying any more books from you" as most people have no clue how much consolidation has taken place in the last 10 years. You WILL end up buying products from them again even if you actively try not to.

      Target the authors if you can. While they're not the ones price gouging they do at least have a significant input to the publishers. I have actually had two replies - one telling me to go fuck myself (US author); one stating that they understood but were tied to that publisher for several years (Aussie author).

      Right now the book publishers deserve piracy, same as the record/film industry did in the past - these people just never learn until the money (bonuses really) disappears.

      If they behave illegally then what do they think is going to happen?

      1. Eponymous Cowherd
        Thumb Up

        Re:EU case ongoing

        As you say, its simple enough to find free versions of rip-off titles. By the time they are forced to bin the agency model they may well find that eBook piracy is a massive problem.

        And they will have brought it all on themselves.

    2. Bill B

      Article a big fail

      I read that article in the Metro and decided to dig a bit deeper.

      Of the authors mentioned in the article:

      David Hewson: Buy "The Fallen Angel " from amazon and it will cost you £7.19 for kindle, £5.11 in paperback

      Jeffery Archer: "Only Time will tell" .. £9.59 for kindle, £5.39 for paperback

      Amanda Craig: "Hearts and Minds" .. £4.49 (Kindle). £4.19 (paperback)

      Hearts and Minds could be regarded as reasonable (an ebook should be 10% cheaper than its paperback version but then is subject to 20% VAT). The rest are just rip-offs.

      Message to authors and publishers .. "if the customer thinks that you are ripping them off then they look for alternatives. Sometimes that alternative will lose you money"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Its another rip-off

        Publishers have prices for paperbacks and hardbacks.

        Pretty much all ebooks from the major English language publishing houses are priced as hardbacks. Small publishers are more reasonable.

        Now while I MAY* be able to accept that proof reading and layout are the major cost drivers (not printing/distribution/etc) I cannot accept that an ebook costs the same as a hardback book. The durability reason is pure arrogant nonsense.

        Its like they learned nothing from the recurring (and still ongoing) car crash that was the RIAA/MPAA, who now have customers who hate them and want to hit their industry's profits. Still the executives get their bonus so all is well mmm?

        *I don't really accept this is the case, every book I've ever bought in the last 10 years has had multiple typos. It may be the primary cost driver for a small PRINT run where you need to be certain its right prior to printing but it sure as hell isn't for ebooks - or for large print runs

      2. davidhewson

        Get your facts right before you start quoting prices

        You dug so deep you found yourself in a big black hole.

        "Buy "The Fallen Angel " from amazon and it will cost you £7.19 for kindle, £5.11 in paperback"

        No it won't. That book is brand new and only available in hardback where it costs £7.79 so the Kindle edition is near damn it 10% cheaper (a lot more than that if you take into account 20% VAT). The paperback edition you quote isn't available until August at which point the ebook price will be reduced to a similar point below it.

        That hardback price quoted for my book is already £5.20 off the list price of £12.99. Books are 30-40% of the price they were five years ago. How's that a ripoff?

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: The fly in the eBook oinkment

      It's six pence more for the Kindle version than the hardback. And yet a couple of weeks ago I bought the Kindle version. Why? Because a big fat book like that is a lot more convenient and easy to read on the Kindle than it is in hardback. It's the same book, and their are advantages and disadvantages to both formats. For me (and many others), the eBook format is preferable so why shouldn't it cost the same as the less desirable hardback. For those that prefer print copy, the same argument holds in reverse which is they prefer the hardback, so why shouldn't it cost as much as the eBook?

      It all comes down to this idea that the eBook should be cheaper because there is less manufacturing cost. But there's no reason one must resent the publisher for making more money when the cost to the buyer hasn't changed. It's a book. There's a new format available that is better for many of us. That's already getting something improved for the same price. If the improvements aren't improvements to you, then stick with the hardcopy and you haven't been cheated at all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        When I am not permitted to choose between two (presumably profitable) formats then yes I have been cheated.

        Look either its the editing/proofreading that drives the cost or its the printing. The industry needs to get its story straight.

        If the publisher is willing to sell a paperback for £4.99 but won't sell a hardback for less than £12.99 two years after release then what does that tell you?

        Most people I know would prefer a hardback version so if its NOT printing/distribution costs that puts an £8 premium on it then its pricefixing territory.

        Anyone with a bit of sense can look at ebook pricing and come to the conclusion they are being conned.

        They'd be right.

  30. Andy 73 Silver badge

    Started well, lost the plot

    The start of the article makes the pertinent point that devices that do a single job well continue to outperform the iOS "there's an app for that" model. We buy cameras, mp3 players, ebook readers in addition to or instead of an iPhone or iPad that "does it all".

    Then the author got lost with theories of syncing, which missed the point that the user friendly swiss army knife approach of iOS can be trumped by a device that is designed from the outset to do it's designated task brilliantly.

    The bottom line is that the iPad is a netbook-without-a-keyboard that may theoretically be able to do 'anything', but is actually only really good at netbook-without-a-keyboard activities, which basically constitute web browsing and casual gaming. The big clue here is that relatively few people read books on their netbooks, or in web browsers.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those people dismissing synching and reading on lcd displays

    While I agree that e-ink is the superior option when it comes to reading, the simple fact of the matter is that this isn't actually an issue for many people as seen by the brisk sales of the nook color even before people were able to root it and use it as a cheap android tablet, so overlooking the benefits of synching between your supported devices harshly diminishes some of the benefits of the overall Kindle system that is ideally suited to those who would rather waste time reading on their phone than playing a game.

    "I think Apple are mainly getting stung by the publisher lock-ins and relationships with Amazon. Once Apple start to get those relationships, the 60:1 ratio will change. And as previous posters have noted - they could even swing it their way by running DRM-free."

    What publisher lock-ins? Both them and amazon have pretty similar deals with all the major publishing companies since the introduction of the dire agency pricing model and as far as them shifting to drm-free they don't seem too eager to take ibooks any further than this token version without even bothering with osx or windows versions.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's down to choice

    By the time the iBooks app came to the UK Kindle was already well established on iPad. Those of us with iPads took a look at iBooks when it was first released, saw the horrifying prices and piss-poor selection and have never looked again.

    I don't own a Kindle (I have a Sony Reader), but the whole Kindle ecosystem is brilliantly thought through and Amazon deserve their success.

  33. xyz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    having conducted extensive tests....

    ...on my girlfriend's usage pattern...she has a laptop, a desktop, a blackberry, a mobile and a kindle. She has a kindle because it's A) lightweight, B) is non techy, C) it's not got bright backlighting and D) it's none of the other things, so it doesn't feel like work when she's using it..

    And that's the main point...she knows she's on relax time with the kindle whereas with a "multi function" thingy there's always interuptions or work or both. She loves it...Oh it's also a girly device.

  34. Ian Michael Gumby
    Dead Vulture



    Call me silly but I don't get it.

    The issue isn't if you use a kindle or an iPad, but that there are more e-book titles for the kindle than there are for an Apple. (Of course Amazon sells the kindle so any e-book title will be published for the kindle... Apple, isn't in the book business.)

    Why someone would buy a title in the kindle format over others? Because it can be read on more different devices. I can read a kindle on my pc or my ipad. Apple's format? Got to convert it first.

    (And how legal is that even if you own your copy of the book?)

    So I don't get it, what's the issue?

    Amazon has greater influence on the publisher to include their format. (Check)

    Amazon's reader is ported to multiple platforms. (Check)

    Apple? Not so much.

    Its a non-story.

  35. Rab Sssss


    Actually I don't have a problem buying a kindle book at hardback (or there about) prices during the period that the book is only alvlible in hard back. As long as it drops to paperback prices (or about) when the paperback comes out.

    But hell on the other hand I tend to buy baen ARCs of my fav baen writers which are more expensive than hardbacks (but i get to have the book before its out in even hardback). What used to really get my back up was crapy bindings on a hardback.

    Honestly though the cross platfom kindle reader software I tend to think as "nice to have" If I ever need it.

  36. HelenHanson

    My results are different

    I recently published a novel at the iBooks and Kindle stores, and my sales are reversed. While they aren't in the league of Mr. Konrath's, I sell 5X more through iBooks than through the Kindle store, and I have no idea why.

    I published directly through iBooks, but many writers use aggregators to approach Apple’s front door. I’m using such an aggregator to offer my work to Sony customers, and I’m not at all happy with the formatting. It’s rudimentary compared with what I can offer directly.

    It’s possible that iPad owners are on to this issue and prefer shopping at the Kindle store.

  37. kmitchell3
    Jobs Halo

    I totally agree with the author

    I love my Apple products. I have an iMac, an iPhone, I want to get an iPad 2. I love my iTunes, the Podcasts and the iTunesU

    BUT, with iBooks, I can't even view it on my iMac. I have the Kobo reader installed on the iMac, and am looking at acquiring an eBook I am interested in, but not from iBooks. (as mentioned earlier, i don't have an iPad at the moment, but even if I did, I wouldn't purchase it from iBooks as I would like to be able to have the option to read it on the computer as well)

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