It’s 2010. You’re still buying physical books? How delightfully retro of you. Here’s an unassailable economic argument for the Amazon Kindle. The new non-3G 6” one is $139 on Amazon, and they’re going for more than that on eBay, so we can call $139 the lower bound for the new version. Here are the 10 biggest selling books on Amazon, in descending order:
|author||Physical list price ($)||Kindle price||Lowest available discounted price|
|Autobiography of Mark Twain||figure it out||35||10||18.87|
|The Lost Hero||Rick Riordan||19||9.74||10.25|
|Diary of a Wimpy Kid||Jeff Kinney||unavailable||doesn’t matter|
|The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest||Stieg Larsson||28||10||11.91|
|Earth||Jon Stewart||unavailable||doesn’t matter|
|American Assassin||Vince Flynn||28||15||15.11|
|The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo||Stieg Larsson||15||5.21||15|
|The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, because America needs yet another book about the Yankees||Jane Leavy||28||15||12|
|At Home||Bill Bryson||29||10||15.50|
Kindle savings per book (generous method): $15.63
(conservative method): 3.10
One of us owns a Kindle, the other’s holding out for irrational reasons. Things learned from compiling that list:
-a legitimate author has the best-selling book in the nation. Maybe there’s hope for our species after all.
-dying would help us sell books. (That’s Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, available everywhere.)
-being on Oprah would help us sell books. As to whether being on Oprah is better than dying, we haven’t reached a conclusion.
What we have reached a conclusion on is the economic benefit to owning a Kindle. If you never read books, then yes, owning a Kindle makes no sense. But you’re here, reading a relatively erudite blog, and presumably have an interest in controlling your cash. If you do read books, you need to buy as few as 9 for a Kindle to pay for itself. To say nothing of the convenience of never having to carry more than 9 ounces of reading material. Every book you own, searchable and available wherever you go? In the last few years we discovered that music doesn’t have to be anchored to a particular location. Books don’t either.
This is not a paid advertisement, or even an unpaid one. Heck, if your choice is between spending $139 on a Kindle or on 10.1 copies of Control Your Cash, don’t be stupid. Buy the books, obviously, and distribute 9.1 of them among your friends.
You’ll also save money on shelving. Between us, we’ve never bought a bookshelf that was sturdy enough nor large enough. The Kindle changes your life, so much so that it prompted the Kindle-owning half of Control Your Cash to say she’d pay $10,000 to have her substantial physical library converted to electrons. We’ve even taken to purchasing Kindle books while browsing the aisles in Barnes & Noble, something Barnes & Noble management addressed by making the sales display for their Kindle knockoff the first thing you see when you walk in the store.
(By the way, if that doesn’t harbing* the death of the retail bookstore, nothing will. A place of business that encourages browsing, whose sales staff applies almost zero pressure, and whose merchandise is available elsewhere? Only now, you can patronize its competitors from within its confines? Even music retailers had a business model with a better chance of fighting off obsolescence.)
The standard objections to owning a Kindle are technophobic and nothing more, a popular one being “But I’d miss the feeling of turning the pages.” Do you miss the feeling of dropping a phonograph needle on a record? And hoping it doesn’t scratch and destroy your music? And then turning the record over after 20 minutes? And not being able to leave the room the music’s playing in? Yeah, advancements suck. A century ago, people missed the feeling of hand-cranking their cars. You’ll transcend it.
If you live in the southwestern United States, and you’ve ever left a book outside or in your car during the summer, you know what happens. Glue melts, pages fall out, bindings get destroyed, money gets wasted. Yes, Kindles are monochromatic. So are books, for the most part. We’ll acknowledge that while Dickens and Shakespeare read as well on an e-reader as they do on a printed page, you can’t say the same for Ansel Adams.
You have a $500 iPad? Good for you. Now try using it in the sun. Or reading an entire book on it without being distracted by email, playing Asphalt 5, listening to a baseball game or impoverishing yourself by trading stocks.
Oh, and one more thing:
|Control Your Cash:||Greg McFarlane|
*A verb we back-formed from “harbinger”. Admit it: “harbing” is a helpful addition to the language. The harbinger went harbinging.