Tag Archives: eBooks

Kindle eBook – many editions of the same thing? – consumer confusion

I can’t recall a new technology that offered so many choices for apparently the same thing. And no clear reasons as to why I should get a particular one.

I’m talking about eBooks. In this case how a search for a single out-of-copyright book turned up a multitude of confusing choices.

The book is The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells.

As I have an Amazon Kindle I first went to their Kindle eBook web site. And so the fun began. Here are just some of the eBook versions there:

  • For $2.57 there is what seems to be an illustrated eBook, although it’s hard to tell as the reviews appear to be talking about the hardcopy (paper) version. So I’m still not sure.
  • Next was a $1.27 edition from a different publisher.
  • Following that there’s a $0.99 version from yet another publisher. 
  • There were others, but I stopped looking. From memory there was a free one, but it wasn’t available for Australian customers.

With me so far?  All three above are for that one title in a single eBook. Besides some possible illustrations, I can’t find out what is different between them.    So what follows really added to the confusion I felt there at Amazon:

  • For $1.00 a single eBook that had 30+ Adventure novels, including my target Moon one as well as other Wells pieces, such as War of the Worlds and The Time Machine.

This last one clearly stated it has “an active table of contents”, which is good news.  TOCs are not indispensible, but some free/cheap eBooks are just one big, fat plain text file, with no hint of TOC.   Begs the question if the first 3 do, but a quick check showed it wasn’t obvious.

Having done some research I had earlier discovered ManyBooks.net which offers “the best ebooks at the best price: free!”  I am sure these are all out-of-copyright ones (!).  So anyway, The First Men in the Moon was there.  The download dropdown options had Kindle as a format, so I took that and down it came to the PC. I then used the new – for me at least – ability to then email the eBook file from the PC to my Kindle email account…and when I turned the Kindle on, the eBook magically appeared.

It has no table of contents.  But hey, the Kindle lets me add my own notes and I can Go To them if I want.

So there you go. I’m guessing the non-free ones do have a TOC. Maybe they have been professionally edited too. But it’s not clear as to what added-value they bring as most of them don’t spell it out.  And spelling out such things is called marketing.

Ebook Redux Part 1

Thoughts of someone outside of the book industry on this most interesting of topics….

I understand that as of now – May 2010 – the eBook market is still quite new. However it does have some disturbing trends already; the main one being device specific formats, aka lock-in. I believe that if you buy an eBook for your Amazon Kindle that book cannot be read on your friend’s Nook reader device.

Note I say buy, the assumption being these are NOT the free, out-of-copyright texts such as Aesops Fables.

Hence you cannot lend them that eBook, nor can they buy it off you (assuming you can somehow sell 2nd hand eBooks, legally). I understand that some providers will allow you to lend ‘their’ (your?) eBook out to someone else, but they must have the same device as you. So again device lock-in.

This is Blu-ray versus HD-DVD all over again. Or, if you are older, VHS versus Beta. Where there’s no neutral standards, vested interests dive in and format wars erupt. The consumer is the loser.

Continue reading