Fragile Things, again

I posted a couple of days ago that Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things had just been released as a $7.99 mass market paperback, but still cost $9.59 for the Kindle.  I just looked again, and now it’s $7.99 for the Kindle, so I guess somebody (or some automated process) does keep an eye on these things and adjust Kindle prices downward when a cheaper hard-copy version of a book is released.
Oh, and I just noticed that Interworld is only $3.99 for the Kindle.  I already have the hardcover on that one, but if you like Gaiman and haven’t read it, it’s a good book.  (Not great, but fun, and a quick read.)

The Economist now available on Kindle

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I’d really like to see The Economist available on the Kindle. Well, now it is. But it’s $10.49 a month. Ouch. Newsweek is only $1.49 a month, and they’re both weeklies, with about the same amount of content. I was definitely ready to drop my Newsweek subscription in favor of The Economist, until I saw the price tag. They seem to have priced it so that it’s just about the same price as a print subscription. I understand the reason why they do this, whether it’s with Kindle books and magazines, or iTunes music and video downloads, but I really wish they’d give it up. It’s a lot cheaper to deliver a magazine or a newspaper electronically than it is to produce and deliver a physical copy. The price should reflect this.

PC Mag on Kindle

This is kind of interesting. PC Magazine is now available for the Kindle.

PC Magazine stopped publishing an actual magazine a while ago, and has just been maintaining their web site, and publishing a digital version (which I think is in a weird format, not a PDF or any normal e-book format) since then. And, just this week, it was announced that ExtremeTech, a related Ziff-Davis site, would be shutting down. Or at least almost shutting down. So, I’m wondering exactly what they’ll be publishing on the Kindle. I’m guessing it won’t look much like the old print PC Mag. It’s interesting that they’re trying to keep it going in some form, but I wonder if anybody cares at this point. Is anyone interesting writing for it? Do they have enough of a budget to do benchmark tests and stuff like that?


I just bought a supporting membership to Anticipation, the upcoming Worldcon. I’m not actually going to the con; I just bought in so I could get the Hugo packet, a zip file full of stuff that’s been nominated for Hugos this year. And, of course, if I manage to read through enough stuff before the voting deadline, I’ll actually be able to vote on the Hugos, which is kind of cool.

I haven’t read any of the stuff (novels, short stories, or anything in between) that’s been nominated this year, though all of the nominated novels have been on my mental “someday/maybe” reading list. I just started reading the PDF of The Graveyard Book, and I’m enjoying that about as much as I’d expected to, given that it’s written by Neil Gaiman. The other stuff in the packet is in a hodgepodge of different formats — PDF, HTML, and RTF mostly. The HTML and RTF files are pretty easy to load onto the Kindle; PDF files are sometimes fine, and sometimes not so good. I’m not even sure when the Hugo voting happens. Obviously, it’s got to be before the con, which is in August. So, I’ve got myself a bunch of stuff to read on the Kindle this summer!

weird Kindle book pricing

I was just looking to see which Ian Rankin novels were available on the Kindle. Lots of them, it turns out. Weird pricing though. You can buy his novel “Strip Jack” for $5.59, $7.99, or $9.99. I can’t imagine there’s any difference between these three versions. Looking at them, I guess each is based on a different print edition, but, on the Kindle, it’s all going to look the same.

Kindle iPhone App

I downloaded the Kindle reader for my iPod Touch earlier this week. I don’t anticipate that I’ll use it much, since I do have an actual Kindle, but I wanted to play around with it. Given the limitations of the iPhone form factor, the app works reasonably well. I suppose I could manage to read a book on it, but I’m not sure I’d want to.

I think that releasing this app right now was a good move on Amazon’s part. There do seem to be a lot of people who are comfortable reading on the iPhone. A good number of e-books have been released as iPhone apps, so apparently there’s a market. Amazon might as well pick up some sales this way, and maybe the app will eventually drive some Kindle 2 hardware sales, as people get used to buying and reading e-books, and decide to step up to a dedicated device.

I’m a little surprised that they don’t support reading newspapers and magazines via the iPhone app. Maybe it’s a rights issue. If I was going to read anything on the iPhone, it’d more likely be newspaper and magazine articles, rather than full-length books though.

Kindle magazines

A couple of related stories came up this week, and have got me thinking about magazines. I currently read Newsweek on my Kindle, and I noticed an article at the New York Times about how Newsweek is planning a makeover to concentrate more on opinion and less on hard news, and is hoping to attract a smaller, but more affluent, audience. I’m wondering how any of the changes described in the article will affect the Kindle version. They mention that they’re looking to raise the subscription price, but I don’t know if they’d do that on the Kindle version or just the paper version. I’m currently paying $1.50 per month, which is pretty cheap, but has got to be largely profit for them (no printing or mailing costs). They mention an increasing emphasis on photography, which won’t really translate to the Kindle, nor will any changes in layout. Hopefully, the articles will continue to be worth reading. I’m a little worried about the idea that they might go too far into the realm of opinion; I’m usually not that interested in reading other people’s political opinions. Right now, for instance, I skip anything in Newsweek with George Will’s name on it, or Anna Quindlen’s. It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with either of them; I’m just not that interested.

There’s a passing mention in the NYT article that Newsweek will be getting a little closer in tone to magazines like The New Yorker. By a bit of coincidence, The New Yorker has just become available on the Kindle. It’s $3 a month, twice the cost of Newsweek. The description mentions that it will “usually” include all articles, fiction, and poetry from the magazine, but will only include a “selection” of cartoons, not all of them. I really think the cartoons could translate week to the Kindle, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t include them all. They’re all just single-panel black and white illustrations, generally without any fancy grey tones or anything like that. I’m tempted to subscribe, regardless, except that I know I’ll fall behind in reading it pretty quickly. Maybe if Newsweek drops off in value for me, I’ll switch to The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, The Economist is still not available for the Kindle.

Kindle 2

The Kindle 2 looks to be pretty nice, but I don’t think I’ll be getting one. There isn’t enough nifty new stuff to offset the high price. And there are actually a few things I don’t like about it: the non-removable battery, the lack of an SD slot, and the fact that the cover is no longer included, and has to be bought separately. I can understand why they made these changes, but I’d just as soon stick with my Kindle 1. – Amazon Raises an E-Book Specter

Here’s a story from the WSJ with some more details on the next version of the Kindle: “Amazon is unveiling a new version of its Kindle e-book reader, and possibly an exclusive agreement for a Stephen King work.” Interesting.
I’m not too enthusiastic about the idea of exclusive content on the Kindle, or any other e-book reader. I don’t mind the idea of a new book being released for the Kindle before it’s published in physical form, though. That even kind of makes sense, since you can publish for the Kindle much faster than you can print actual books and ship them out to stores and all that. And maybe a publisher could use Kindle book sales as an indicator of how popular a book is going to be, and hence make judgements about the size of a print run.
This story doesn’t have much info, or any photos, about the actual hardware. I’ve seen new photos elsewhere on the web though. I’m still not seeing anything in the new Kindle that’ll make me want to toss my old one. Hopefully, we’ll get full details later today.

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new Kindle?

According to a variety of sources (including the NYT), there will likely be a new Kindle model released on Feb. 9. I’m pretty happy with the current Kindle, but I’m curious to see what the new model looks like (assuming that’s actually what Amazon is announcing on 2/9).

It doesn’t look like they’ve got any really revolutionary advances in E-Ink technology ready, and that’s the area where they could really make a difference in the hardware.