The other night whilst in bed I thought
* ooh could do with a book to read,
* think I still have £10 of Amazon vouchers,
* what was that book called which featured God in the title and was in the Radio 2 book club the other month,
* quickly launch www.bbc.co.uk/radio2 on the phone,
* find the “desktop version” link, then the book club link,
* discover the book is called “When God Was a Rabbit“,
* launch the Kindle app and search,
* price is £4.99, reasonable,
* press Buy
all done in under 5 minutes.
It’s this reason why I really like having the Kindle App on my mobile. It gives me instant access to a book, on a device I already carry around with me all day long, so if I’m in a queue, in bed, on a train, in a coffee shop, I can continue to read from where I last left off.
So what’s the problem. Well the book would have cost 30p less if I got it in paperback from Amazon. I can’t lend the book to a friend after reading it and even letting my wife have a read is pretty tricky. I can’t give it away to a charity shop. Whilst I can transfer the book to other devices (new mobile, my PC, a Kindle if I was ever lucky to get one, a tablet), this can only happen whilst Amazon still exists. Should be fine for the next few years, but what about in ten? Yet I still have books I purchased when I was twelve on my bookshelf, and others handed down through generations of my family.
In the US Amazon are trying to allow you to lend a book, but you can only do this once and publishers really don’t like this. So what about a different idea.
What if instead of just selling ebooks, Amazon offered the option to rent them. Not in a public library only one person per virtual copy, can only be lent for 4 weeks, can’t be returned early. But in a paid, £1 a week, as many copies as they can shift (with the option for publishers to push the price a little higher if they wished) way.
And if the book would have cost £5 and you’ve enter the fifth week of reading, here have it for keeps.
This way if Amazon disappeared tomorrow, my book collection wouldn’t go with them. If I wanted to recommend the book to others, I would even be tempted to pay for the first week to get them started and if I loved a book so much that I wanted to keep it, I could order the paperback.
I know if this was offered to me I would be spending a whole lot more in the Kindle store than I am at the moment.