Tag Archives: kindle

What will become of the books?

My newly organized bookshelfA minor lamentation, noted as I read this on Simon Waldman’s blog; as passionate as I am about all things digital, I will miss the sheer physical presence of some of my stuff as it evolves its way off the physical plane.

Not DVDs or CDs; the convenience factor of the digital format there is just vast – but with books, the comforting, colourful, aesthetically pleasing albeit inevitably dusty presence across the room as they sit solidly in a bookshelf… well, their future absence will be noted.

I do occasionally still buy print books – for anything Amanda needs to read, or Emily (my girls are old school and the tactility of books is awesome and necessary for Em) – and occasionally for a long running series of books or novel I know I’ll end up sharing.

So Terry Pratchett, Raymond Feist et al, will continue to be bought in print. Because I’m faintly obsessive compulsive, I’ll also probably complete any series of novels I started to buy in physical form – Peter F Hamilton’s ‘Void’ trilogy was one case in point, despite the enormity of those hardbacks. Fortunately, I read my way through all of George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series in digital format, so  was spared the 1,000 page monster of the new book as a bookshelf counterweight.

But there are some shelves in our house that may end up with ornaments and niknackery on them instead of books. Which – as someone that’s spent a decade without enough shelf-space – is something I find strange in the extreme.

Why do we pay VAT on eBooks but not on print books?

There’s no VAT charged on books – it’s one of a number of exempt products and services that the HMRC sets to be zero rated (For the full list – click here).

…but there is on eBooks. I’ve been searching for an answer as to why (and indeed, why print books are zero rated). I can only assume that – as books broadly speaking ‘better’ or are needed for civilized society, a view was taken that they should be zero rated and that’s been maintained over the years.

As to why eBooks aren’t zero rated? The suggestions I’ve read online indicate that legislators haven’t quite caught up with the concept. Would they be taxing a digital download/service, or a ‘book’ in the traditional sense? In the case of Kindle, you aren’t buying the book but the right to access it from Amazon – so how is that classified by the bean counters?

Irrespective of the logistics of it and whether they should be zero rated or not, this is why the pricing on eBooks is so broken. It is almost inevitably cheaper for me to buy a hardback on Amazon than the Kindle equivalent (given Amazon’s extensive discounting of new mass-market hardback novels). Frustrating, but I’m still paying the digital tax – the convenience of e-reading – not to mention the enormous amounts of shelf space it’ll save me in the long run – is immense.

Kindle blogstore… ish

I made good use of the Kindle app over the sabbatical – I read my way through most of Joe Abercrombie’s back catalogue, including the First Law trilogy, amongst others, via the iPad and iPhone, whilst feeding Emily and when on planes, trains and boats.

So it was with some excitement that I realised that I could add my blog to the Kindle store and make it available to my adoring public via another channel. I’ve done so, and you can subscribe here… if you live in the US and have a full-on Kindle device. I’ve no idea why it’s not available in the UK… Can anyone educate me?

As to why is it that Amazon hasn’t provided similar features on the iPhone/iPad that it has going on its own device…? Again, not sure. Presumably to force sales of the Kindle to people that want to read blogs, newspaper etc., and make some money from the hardware sales… But you’d think that they make most of their money from the book sales rather than from the physical hardware??

I want to read my e-reader…

So despite the fact that the prevailing opinion from my Twitter contacts and friends alike was that I should wait for the Kindle to grace the shores of the UK, the holiday in Denmark with three bulky paperbacks squeezed into a too-cramped rucksack and the impending implosion of my bookshelves into some minor singularity broke me, and I picked up a Sony PRS 505 from Play.com about two weeks ago. I’d seen my friend Rob with one and had a pretty good idea it would be decent, which its proving to be, and I had a feeling that the Kindle would be some time coming…

Here’s what’s good about it:

1) It stores lots of book in a sleek, elegant casing. I’ve shoved a 1GB SD card (at a cost of a not so princely £4) in there, which will cover me for at least 1000 books but potentially as many as 3000 – which is probably more than I’ll need on there

2) It works well with the open source Calibre, even under Windows7 RC1 64bit, which is something of a relief (as I gather the Sony software is its usual bag of decaying tripe)

3) The screen is amazing. E-Ink works like an etch-a-sketch, so reads well in any light. It also makes for…

4) …awesome battery life. Due to the etch-a-sketch nature of the device, it only draws power when turning pages. So one charge (by USB cable), will give you room for about 4000 page turns

5) You can get books. Waterstones has many, even if Amazon is probably banking on the arrival of the Kindle in the UK at some stage.

The not-so-good

1) I’ve already mentioned Sony’s software… the navigation on the device itself is not brilliant, no way to go directly to a page (that I’ve found as yet), not until you’ve made bookmarks (although it remembers what page you were last reading), and there’s no search functionality, ability to make notes etc. I’m also having some fiddling with page alignment (page numbers in middle of page, NBSPs, etc)

2) There’s no wireless connectivity – hence awesome battery life, but hey, if I want wireless, well, that’s what the iPhone I’m planning on getting will do…

3) The page-turning is not that speedy, although its not terrible

All in all, it’s up there with my Netbook in all-time useful purchases. I carry it around daily, have got through two novels on it in two weeks and will probably maintain close to that rate, saving valuable bookshelf real-estate, holiday packing and being stuck on the bus in between books…

Here’s a quick video demo from some dude on Youtube:

Cross posted on Chivalry House.