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Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Jan 30, 2010 in Blog, The Windup Girl | 19 comments

Amazon, Kindle and Windup Girl in ebook

With Amazon blocking Kindle editions of all Macmillan books, particularly my friends who are Tor authors, I’d like to log a couple thoughts about ebooks.

First, some blatant pimpage: The Windup Girl is available for $6, DRM-free, at Webscriptions.net. http://www.webscription.net/p-1121-the-windup-girl.aspx. If you’re into ebooks, it’s pretty much the best deal going. It’s a fair price, and both I and my publisher make some money from it. We all win.

In the past, I’ve had differences with Night Shade over whether we should also sell ebooks directly through Amazon or not. I’ve always figured that consumers should have a choice of where they shop, and if they want to spend more for a DRM’d version of my book–while I wouldn’t do it–I argued that we should certainly be willing to accommodate.

That said, selling ebooks on Amazon looks less tasty these days. I sympathise with Amazon’s interest in keeping ebook prices relatively low so they can sell Kindles, but they also clearly want to dominate the ebook market, and every ebook sold through Amazon solidifies that monopoly. Long term, they’re not interested in serving consumers, or making books affordable, they’re interested in control. Monopolies, even if they’re nice in the short term, always turn predatory in the long term, and more and more Amazon seems intent on demonstrating that.

Maybe Macmillan can’t sell ebooks for $15. Personally, I think it’s high. But that shouldn’t be for Amazon to decide. That should be for readers to decide. Macmillan can figure it out on their own, with the help of market pressures that should push their prices downward over time. Instead, Amazon wants to use its market share and retail power to force Macmillan to price its product to Amazon’s specifications, and in the process it’s using a bunch of my friends’ books to make its point.

While I’d love to have an ebook sitting on Amazon’s shelves in front of all its traffic, I’m pretty certain that without competition, that Amazon will never learn to behave any better. So I’m happy to host The Windup Girl with webscriptions.net, and very happy to see new products rolling out from Apple. Maybe when there’s more competition in the ebook sphere, we’ll make The Windup Girl available on Amazon, too. But for the moment, webscriptions.net feels like the right place to be.

19 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this, Paolo. It’s good to hear about the other options that are out there, both for readers and authors. It sounds like what you’re doing is working out for you, and I applaud and share the non-DRM, especially now that I hear that Amazon is taking sample chapters of Macmillan books off of people’s Kindles. This is a strong-arm job on Amazon’s part, and I think it needs to be resisted, by publishers, creators, and by readers.

    With the ongoing evolution of the larger book business and the growing e-book market, a stance like Amazon’s is not only counter-productive, it ignores the conditions of the evolution. Places like webscriptions.net are demonstrating how the internet creates new opportunities for people to obtain their books, in all formats. Amazon is trying to cling to its hegemony, but it already seems as if that is not going to work. Authors are pulling links and readers are abandoning them to buy from their online competitors. It would be nice if Amazon took a look around and realized how the virtual terrain was changing, and took actions that provided value to their customers.

  2. Well said, Paolo.

    And thank you for being a voice for consumer choice, even when you take the risk of biting the hand that feeds you. Well, one of them anyway.

    I’m also glad to be using Sony Reader instead of the Kindle. Sony even made the switch back in December 2009 from their proprietary eBook format to go exclusively to the open EPUB format.

    Openness is a good thing.

  3. I have to say it’s a shame that Windup Girl isn’t going to be available on the kindle.

    It looks really interesting and something I would enjoy – but I’ve really taken to reading and purchasing new titles via the kindle app on my iPhone.

  4. LOL. Maybe I wasn’t clear Daniel. The ebook of The Windup Girl through webscriptions.net is entirely compatible with Kindle. Check it out, or not. Whatever.

  5. I just started the hardback-version of your Windup Girl. I did follow a link to webscriptions.net, and, while they might eventually sell it to me for 6 bucks, it’s offered in the $20 block.

    I did pass up a “free” version for the i09 reader’s club to buy it on Amazon in hardcover.

    Is that irony? :)

    I lust after a Kindle or a Sony Reader, though. Books are nice, but they do accumulate and are needy.

  6. Bravo! I’m glad you’re standing up to Amazon and their bully tactics. I have stopped reading paper books in favor of my Sony Reader, so thanks for making the book available somewhere in a DRM free version. :)

    Tye

  7. Well played. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate not only an ebook option, but the tragically uncommon lack of DRM. Got hip to you through BB, spent an hour in a bookstore with Windup Girl – couldn’t pull the $30 for a hardcover, and now don’t have to. Just finished the download from webscriptions. $6 is fair, they have many format options, and now your book is on my phone (android, Aldiko reader, .epub). Even the beautiful cover art made it.

    Rock on.

  8. Just chiming in to say how pleased I am to be able to purchase your ebook DRM-free. I really prefer ebooks over hard copy these days, and my main reader is a Nokia N800, so no DRM support on it anyways. Also, I appreciate you standing up to Amazon, and I wish you all the best.

    -John

  9. Be aware that you can also grab The Windup Girl with 4 other books from Night Shade bundled together for $20. That said, I bought the hardcover and look forward to starting in on it fairly soon.

  10. I am enjoying my kindle and reading a lot in dialysis (one handed), so I was disappointed not to be able to get the windup girl in some kind of kindle format.

    If the publishers are holding out for more money for downloads, they should consider people like me who simply don’t buy a book if it isn’t compatible with the kindle.

    I’m not sure this has to be kindle – I’ve found other sites (ebookmall, smashwords e.g.) who sell the format.

  11. I have to admit, I love my Kindle. But I am constantly frustrated by DRM and certain newer books being unavailable because of tifts with publishers, etc. I realize everyone has their own interests in mind, and wants to protect them, but as a techno-geeky eBook lover . . . I just want my eBooks at a reasonable price! So I was absolutely delighted when I Googled this book to look for an eBook version and found this post. Webscriptions was super easy to buy and download from and I am now happily about to go off and read this on my Kindle.

    Thank you so much for making a DRM free eBook available for a totally reasonable price from a site that was easy to buy and download from. I hope more authors/publishers go this route if Amazon doesn’t wind up being a venue they wish to sell from. I love Amazon, but, I love my eBooks more and am happy to get them anyway I can!

  12. Sandy, THE WINDUP GIRL is available in kindle-compatible format at Webscriptions.net. Maybe that wasn’t clear.

  13. I appreciate that the book is available somewhere (and I also found this post as a result of a Google search) but I would have still preferred to buy from Amazon.

    While I’m generally anti-DRM I like the fact I can download the book to multiple devices and re download whenever I want without having to synch with a computer and copy files. I consider the Amazon DRM scheme similar to that of the game platform Steam where at least I get some benefit as opposed to movie DRM where it just stands in the way of fair use.

    Also I dislike having to register with yet another online stores and enter my payment details and keep track of login information just to get a particular book. It’s much simpler to use Amazon which I already use extensively to research and purchase.

  14. Well played. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate not only an ebook option, but the tragically uncommon lack of DRM. Got hip to you through BB, spent an hour in a bookstore with Windup Girl – couldn’t pull the $30 for a hardcover, and now don’t have to. Just finished the download from webscriptions. $6 is fair, they have many format options, and now your book is on my phone (android, Aldiko reader, .epub). Even the beautiful cover art made it.

    Rock on.

  15. Thanks, Paolo, for making this great book available for my droid. I loved it. I’m heading right over to Webscriptions.net for “Pump Six…” next! For some reason you’ve only materialized for me with this book, although in looking at your stories, I realize I’ve read and loved a number of them including “The Fluted Girl”. Thanks again!

  16. Is it too bad that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. I am a large fan of the convenience of having my Kindle. I like having the reading/notes and highlights silently synced from PCs to iPhone to iPad and Kindle. Now that Amazon has switched to the agency model as Apple has, will you be rescinding your hold out on releasing a Kindle version? I’d like to own this book and that is my heavily preferred method of delivery.

  17. I do understand that you offer an ePUB edition, but that is not useful for me as there is not another platform that syncs it across PC, iPhone and iPad and that is how I prefer to do my reading. This is a large concern for me.

  18. We should keep focus not on the reader cost but the books. The reader is a minor one time purchase. Overpriced ebooks is where the retailers make money. Why do ebooks cost so much more than the paperback version? Why can I share a paperback book but not an ebook? Until this situation is improved this avid reader is sticking to paper.

  19. Deference to post author, some fantastic information .

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