Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The problem with e-books

I think I posted on e-readers before, or at least did long comments before I had one.

I have had my e-reader for a month or more now, so maybe I am more qualified now ^_^

To be honest I am not posting on what an ideal e-reader might be. Nook Vs Kindle or anything. This post is about the e-books themselves, not so much the e-reader.

There are some really good things about e-books. You can get them instantly (when you are allowed to buy them) any time.

You can put a library on an e-book and have more choice than if you had a case full of books with you. Awsome for flight weight limits.

But there sure are big drawbacks that need to be ironed out as well.

Firstly with e-books, the copyrightable material is separated from the physical book, like you could float the story off the pages of an ordinary book and put them on some other blank pages in another book. And not just once but as many times as you choose. Like magic a Disney movie.

So what does that mean? Well firstly it costs a publisher hardly anything at all to print an e-book and...

Secondly they will never loose money because they print too many and have to pulp them.

Thirdly they don’t have any materials or shipping costs.

So take, as an example, Jane Fallon’s “Got you back”. Amazon’s RRP for the paperback is £7.99. Their discount price is £5.29 with no shipping fee.

Amazon's e-book for the Kindle is £5.99

Or Penguin’s site £7.99 for the paper back £5.99 for the e-book

I don’t think you can get the e-book in Canada right now. The paperback is listed at $22.95 discount price $16.57

So there are two things wrong there right away.

One they want to charge you practically the same price for the actual physical book as they do for the e-book.

Now the physical book they had to get the paper and ink and glue for, that they had to print and guess how many copies they could sell. Books they had to bind and pack and ship all over to stores.

And an e-book, that I figure must have cost so little to print and ship that you may as well call it nominal.

Now I am not dumb. I know they have to pay the author and the agents and the editors. The electronic typesetter and the artist and the advertising, secretaries and their offices in Sydney, London or Manhatten or Boyse Idaho. The servers the site runs on and whoever processes the payments.

But that same set of costs applies to the actual physical paperbacks and hardbacks also.

So where do Amazon get off actually charging more to download an e-book than to send me the actual physical book?

Would you be willing to pay the same for a physical CD as you would for the same music on your mp3 player. I really don’t think so.

It’s not like I don’t think they deserve a reasonable profit, but really.

And now to my second point. Right now you could order the physical book and get it delivered most anywhere in the world, or probably get your local book store (who the e-books make me worry for) to order it in.

But you try to get the e-book, you will probably get some message that they can’t sell it in your region.

That is totally crazy why can’t you buy it? Why can’t you buy a book in the US that you can in the UK or vice versa? Something to do with copyright I guess.

Why they can’t have a world copyright deal for e-books I do not know. Because not being able to get a hold of a copy of something you know is out there is a strong inducement to piracy for a generally law abiding person who would be happy to pay for it.

Not that they are wanting something for nothing, but that they don't see why they should not be allowed to read what someone else can. That goes against everything an avid reader believes.

Another problem is all the proprietary e-book formats that try to lock you into one particular e-reader. Did you know that if you buy an e-book for one reader it is really difficult to transfer it to another if you upgrade to a different make… unless you buy all your books from an independent supplier in the more–or-less universal e-pub format.

Adobe look like they have cornered the ‘independent’ proprietary copyrighted material market. You have to download their software to put those bnooks on your e-reader. OK so it is free at the moment, I bet the publishers have to pay big time for it tho, so you do pay for it in the price somewhere. To give them credit they can put it on most any e-reader.

Come on e-publishers. There would be much less reason for piracy if you had a universal world release instead of only letting some of the people buy your books and you didn’t rip us off on price.

All of us who like to read know Authors and publishers need to make some money or they just wouldn’t keep writing the stuff we like to read, we don’t mind paying £1.00 or $1.50 per book, even probably twice that, or maybe a bit more still when it is only out in hardback.

I would love to hear what someone in the “Industry” had to say about all this. Bet I don't.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Health Care - What way is best?

This might be a bit “hard hat”, I guess it depends on who reads it and how they feel about the subject.

I was having dinner with some British and American friends the other week and the subject of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) came up. Also state pensions, Obama’s ideas and the System in the UK.

And do you know… No one was saying the NHS was sacred or anything? Not like you see on the news and from UK politicians.

The best anyone would say was it was good for public health in general to keep up basic good health and immunisations, make sure babies of trashy parent/s got their vitamins.

They said it was waay too expensive, crippled by bad practices and brought down by too many over paid under talented managers who got themselves into deals called public/private partnerships, about building and leasing hospitals back that no one who knew what they were doing would have signed up for.

Apparently some “Trusts” in London are basically bankrupt over them and people may even be dying because of it.

Someone said if the NHS refuses to give a treatment, maybe for a cancer drug banned by this “Nice” (Is that Newspeak for Nasty?) committee and the patient buys the drug privately they get their NHS treatment cut off as a punishment. That sees quite evil to me. Sure gets rid of critics tho.

They also said you could die because of how slow it could be to get treatment..

But weirdly if the “Nice” people say you can have it, you might still be refused it.

They also said the NHS and State pensions were basically Ponzie schemes.

They were didn’t like how it treats seniors either.

So they didn’t like the level of service it delivered.

For all of that I don’t think they wanted to junk the NHS out of hand. More cut it massively down to size to a sort of basic safety net if it could not match the levels of service you get if you pay privately in the UK.

OK comments please.. Agree or disagree? What do you all think? Is it fine? is it broken? Is it fixable?