This is kind of a great time to be alive if you’re a voracious reader. I count myself among those with that affliction, so I’m feeling very blessed these days. Amazon has dropped the price of its Kindle to $299. They’ve got egg on their face from last week’s triumph at the gates of the reader over the distributor and right now readers–who are more and more savvy about e-readers every day–are king.
Last Saturday the husband and I journeyed to Barnes & Noble Cool Springs. It was a favourite date spot for us just a few months ago, where our discretionary income got left behind in spilling, swelling chunks in exchange for books about anything and everything. Except Vampires In Love.* Ever since getting my Kindle on April Fool’s Day, I’ve made a fool of the paper book industry. Oh, I’ve purchased 500% more books in the last three months, so publishing-in-general should be in love with me. But since those books have been 89% via the Kindle I can see how places like B&N are mourning my departure.
On Saturday they were pushing their two iPhone apps. Six foot signs in the windows and a banner unfurled over the registers announced that you can get an app to shop-ship from B&N from your phone. You could also get an app to compete with the Kindle on your iPhone. If you downloaded THAT one, you qualify for a free coffee from Starbucks. B&N wants that e-reader market so badly they can taste it. I can’t blame them. Until three months ago I was among their better customers. Now I drive by the place on my way to Costco. I saw the sign and toyed with getting the app, so much so that I was planning on going to the App Store for it once my fingers worked.
Too bad today was the day they sent me the email.
“Download the FREE e-reader” it exclaimed “and receive six FREE books on us!” Now of course I was interested. But the small print did me in, lathered me up and sat me down to write my rant. The six free books are indeed just that. Six books which are free to anyone with any type of computer access. (Last of the Mohicans, Little Women, Dracula and three other things I can’t remember.) They’re all public domain titles and available free from Amazon, Feedbooks, MobiBooks and no doubt elsewhere via Google. Saying those books are “on us” implies that B&N is taking some sort of direct-cost hit to get readers to buy into their version of electronic reading. It’s a lie. A manipulative outright lie that cost them this particular e-reading customer. For awhile at least.
I’ll be honest. I’ll probably download and use their ereader someday. Sooner if they figure out how to market it to savvy ereaders, ireaders and readers alike. I’d love to see the free market drive the costs of ebooks back down a bit, seeing as the publishers appear to be getting a wee greedy over on the Kindle Store. The B&N app could be the first step to changing that. But I don’t want to start another retailer relationship based on dishonesty. Especially after last week and the Orwell Fiasco.
*(I’m so beyond overly tired of that stupid genre twist. Normally I don’t mind what genres I’m not into get up to, but since every face-foward display seems to be given over to these books I resent it. I can’t find anything I’m interested in reading because Love At First Suck has taken over in the bricks and mortar world.)