Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why I only buy e-books from indie publishers

Nikodemus Siivola blogged about the $2 surcharge Amazon extracts from Kindle customers outside the US. I use my Kindle every day, and I buy e-books to read on a regular basis, spending around $10-30 a month (depending on how much time I have for reading). I have owned a Kindle for almost a year now, but I didn't know about this surcharge: I guess the reason for this is that none of the money I spent on e-books went to Amazon.

There are two reasons for this: their non-competitive pricing and DRM. First, I am reluctant to pay more for an e-book than I would for a paperback, yet I frequently saw e-books on Amazon that cost more than their paperback versions. I understand that Amazon is trying to extract economic rents using its strong position in this market, but I would feel like an idiot if I participated in this scheme.

Regarding DRM: I like my Kindle very much, but I think that in the long run e-book readers will become even more of a commodity (like laptops or cell phones), and I don't wish my e-book collection to be tied to Amazon. Call me old-fashioned, but I do want to own the content I pay for, especially if I paid almost as much as I would pay for a hardcopy. So I only buy DRM-free books.

I mostly read literature on my Kindle. I buy quite a bit of sci-fi from Baen books — they also have a lot of books available for free, knowing full well that good sci-fi is addictive for some people anyway, but they don't exploit this: most of their books sell for $5-6. I haven't head a chance to check out Calibre's DRM-free book store, but it looks very promising.

I think that unless Amazon changes its pricing policy and considers offering DRM-free content, there is very little chance that I will buy anything from them. If you know some indie authors or publishers who sell reasonably priced DRM-free e-books, I would be interested in hearing about them.

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