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Amazon.com, Ebooks and Chump Change

An article of mine appears in kuro5hin: Amazon.com, Ebooks and Chump Change. I actually have several additional comments which I’ll make tomorrow morning.

A few thoughts and omissions:

Mobileread is an excellent source of information about ebook content available. Teleread is also an excellent blog about the emerging ebook industry. Here are more ebook links I’ve been collecting.

A commenter pointed out the problem of finding cheap quality fiction (using Cormac McCarthy as an example). Truthfully, books by the incumbents are not going to go down in price soon. That is not the point. Ebooks are a real win if you’re interested in pre-1923 books (admittedly a minority of people, but there’s some pretty great stuff out there!). They’re also a big win for people who want to roll up something they found off the Internet into an ebook. Here are examples of things I’ve rolled up recently: Texas historical classics , a forum of scientists answering a single question, erotic stories by two writers I admire, a collection of award-winning short stories by scifi writer Jim Kelley, a series of essays on education by a man chosen as Teacher of the Year, and a book on python programming . Yes, there are real time issues and formatting issues involved with doing it yourself, but once it’s done, it’s really really cool. People on the openreader-format mailing list have talked about the notion of supporting the IETF standard for downloading complete web sites, and that would also be cool. Imagine just clicking a button, setting a few options (about link depth) and just making an ebook. That would be helpful in the case of the world’s greatest piece of hypertext fiction (which by the way, is now available in streaming mp3 format–my hands are trembling with excitement as I download the mp3s). Correction: only streaming format. Shucks!

Some forward-looking writers (like Jason Pettus and Cory Doctorow) have taken the iniative and rolled ebooks of their books for public consumption, but that is more the exception than the rule. Literary ezines hopefully will get the idea soon. BTW, a really nice option (pioneered by Pettus) is to download literary websites onto your PDA through the free service Avantgo Channels, which I’ve recently begun to love. Speaking of blog-type fiction, let me point out that a lot of erotic bloggers are essentially writing fiction (let’s hope anyway!)

A lot of smaller specialized ebook sites are emerging to sell ebooks, mainly in the romance, erotica,sci fi and technical genres. But the truth is to obtain good cheap ebooks you’re going to have to find them and download them yourself.

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