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Archive for December, 2006

What is it with the crazy costs of eBooks? A couple of days ago I wrote about a device I would love to own. The key feature of this device is an eBook reader. I want to be able to carry around all of my books (the iPod of books), with the ability to bookmark, tag, and search them all from one small device. Well, looking at the costs of these eBooks, I won’t be buying such a device any time soon. Here’s a comparison of the top-ten best selling books on Amazon on December 8, 2006 to the eBooks.com.

  Amazon’s Price eBooks.com’s Price
You: On A Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management $13.75 $15.29
The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward – A New Approach
(Vintage)
$6.57 Not Listed
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream $13.75 $16.15
Next $15.37 $19.95
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence $15.39 Not Listed
The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town $13.03 Not Listed
Cross $15.39 $17.09
Jim Cramer’s Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich $15.00 $16.99
For One More Day $12.07 Not Listed
Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring
for Everything in Your Home
$27.00 Not Listed

Now this is by no means a thorough comparison but you would expect that since you’re only receiving a file, one that cost zero dollars for eBooks.com to duplicate, that there would be a price savings over purchasing the book which cost much more to make. You might be able to make a case for it costing more because it’s more convenient to purchase but this doesn’t hold up. Buying an eBook is instant gratification. You can read it right away and access it on your computer or portable device. This is great but it doesn’t change the basic economics of book pricing. With all else being equal between books and eBooks, the only difference is the medium, and since I’m not receiving the paper and hard cover and there are no printing costs, then why should I pay more? Plus we haven’t even discussed the different eBook formats and their potential limitations.

Here’s one more example:

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Amazon: $16.47

eBook.com: $24.95

There should never be an $8+ difference in favor of the actual book. It just should not happen. One day I will purchase all of my books in an electronic format but not until these prices are more in-line with reality.

UPDATE: Changed “not available” to “not listed” to remove any confusion. Not listed means that when I searched for the book on eBook.com it returned no results.

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Here’s the portable device I want.

Size: Roughly the size of Sony’s Portable eBook Reader

Screen: eInk LCD – touch screen

Hardware:

  • Wifi
  • BlueTooth
  • SD Card
  • USB
  • Expansion for EVDO
  • Large flash drive

Software:

  • Light weight OS – minimal features, focused on ease of use, instant on
  • Search
  • eBook Reader
  • Email
  • iTunes
  • HTML/CSS Editor
  • FTP
  • Image Editor (Fireworks/Light-weight Photoshop)
  • Web Browser
  • Photo Viewer
  • Movie Viewer
  • Notebook – taking digital notes

Why do I want such a device?

This would replace 95% of what I need my MacBook Pro for. I’m always carrying around books to read and lately I’ve found that I’m always wanting to highlight text, bookmark pages, and make notes. This is great but unless all of this is done digitally, it is much too difficult to remember what I marked-up when and in what book. I want all of this information at my finger tips at any point in time. Now if this device also allowed me to sketch web page designs, manage web sites, and jot notes, I would buy it in a heart beat. Throw in music, video, and photos in an easy to carry form factor and I’d pay almost any price. I think a system like this could find a niche between a Palm Pilot type device (too small for my needs) and a laptop computer (too big to carry around all the time). Like I said, I’m always carrying a book around with me to read, why not carry around a small portable device that is roughly the same size but does so much more.

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Yesterday, I was reading “Discover your genius: how to think like history’s ten
most revolutionary minds” by Michael Gelb when I got to the end of the chapter
on Thomas Jefferson, I couldn’t help but wonder where all the great thinkers are
in today’s society. Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, and many others
came together at one point in time, creating the perfect storm that would craft
what has become the United States of America. The amount of great thinkers all
living during this time, working together on something they collectively believed in
is just astounding. It also took nothing short of their collective genuise to guide
the country through a difficult time when I’m sure many people questioned
whether fighting a super power like British was the right thing to do. Even after
the war, their leadership was needed to get this new country on it’s feet, create a
new economy, and provide the confidence to it’s citizens that they were safe and
good times were ahead.

There are far more people living in the US than there were 200+ years ago. This
would suggest that there would have to be leaders, scientists, and inventors that
are the equal of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin but where are they. Are we
too blinded by the latest Hollywood stories to even have any interests in the
people that will influence and lead this country over the next 50 years? So I ask,
who in today’s society are the equivalent of these great men? Where can we find
them and how do we acknowledge their greatest before the pass us by?

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