Friday, March 6, 2009


or “Yet Another PaulC Rant”

KindleBoards is one of the best kindle forums around. Some one asked the question “Do you still purchased DTBs?” (DTB = Dead Tree Book) So I typed a reply that quickly turned into “PaulC rant #6” which is partially covered in this post. Anyway, the KindleBoards server went offline so I cant post it. :( I assume that it will be back shortly, but I need to head over to Charlottes to help with her computer and I don’t want to loose a perfectly good rant! So here it is.

In Response to the question “(As a kindle owner) do you still buy DTBs?”


PaulC is a man of extremes, I have been kindle-ized and there is no return. I am on a jihad, a quest, a crusade, a holy war, I am under a gies (pick the word that best fits your imaginary friend) and you can not dissuade me!

(most) Publishers think, "pfft, we don't need to support ebooks! We will overcharge, they are a captive audience! Either they will pay too much for the electronic version, or we will sell them the DTB version. We OWN the reader!!"

To that I say that the publishers will be well met on the battlefield! They own nothing but their own outdated business practices! Your books hold no sway o'er me! I will read that which is free (as in speech) and revel in my ability to read it on my kindle, blackberry, or even my desktop computer! Your wily business practices will bring you naught but ruin and destruction! You can over charge for your books, but we are free people and we can read that which is free (as in beer) or possibly cheap! We will not buy your dam dead tree books!!

So, if you weren’t frothing at the mouth for that last sentence, please read the entire paragraph again, this time with EMOTION. And, uh, well, any place where I said "we" you can probably replace with "I". :) BUT, my point is this...

DON'T DO IT! Do not pay $20 for an ebook, and do not purchase DTBs! Publishers need to change their model. It may mean that you cannot read the latest NY Times Best Cellar, but so what? Broaden your horizons.


  1. Dude- lay off the NYT best seller list. they are best sellers for a reason. Is it a bad book because its popular? Does reading a Tom Clancey novel make me too main stream, too sheeple? Personally I hate the NYT(see Walter Duranty)but that has nothing to do with the latest best sellers.

    The economics is pretty simple and by no means outdated. I'm not going to pay very much to reread a classic like Tom Sawyer, but I WILL pay a premium price for the next Harry Potter or Dark Tower or Ender or Tom Clancey because I want it and I want it NOW! Your books DO hold sway o'er me! And many others. The prices reflect that demand accurately.

    One last thing. You should understand that it's development, not production that costs the most with intellectual property/goods. I mean, you work in an industry that gave the world the EULA, right? How much does it cost to crank out a million copies of Vista? $50,000? And yet the price of Vista in no way reflects its actual production cost now does it? So why should an ebook be any less than a DTB? Just axin

  2. I agree with you both!
    Paul, don't buy DTBs if you don't want. You are right, the publishers need to change their business model. I have done some reading on this recently and they KNOW they are selling less DTBs the same way movie makers are selling less DVDs. They will not be selling the "best-sellers" for less money because they have to stay in business. They have large development costs for books and that is not going to change. The times are a-changing but best-sellers are still best-sellers. What Pat says is true also. I also sometimes enjoy a best-seller. I enjoy all the ones he mentioned. BTW a best seller just means its the most sold from the publisher, not necessarily the most sold to the end-reader. If Barnes and Noble thinks a book is going to be big, they might buy a ba-zillion copies and the book is immediately a best seller and NO ONE HAS READ IT YET!! Pat's last paragragh; also true. HELLO! The actual production of books is the smallest part of the cost especially until the development costs are recouped. A best seller is going to cost about the same whether it is a DTB or electronic. It makes sense.
    I love to read and I love books. Even if I eventually own a kindle I will still want to own some books in traditional dead-tree format. I see kindle as a way to read more without having to deal with lots of books. I hope to own one some day. But my favorite books....I'll still have hard copies. I love my collection of Pearl S. Buck and Orson Scott Card.

  3. Pat: I never called anyone a "sheeple" or even implied that they were one. I don't follow Ron Paul. Books on the NYT Best seller list are NOT "popular" or "good", they just sold the most. So when a publisher "purchases" copies of their own book, they get on the list even though nobody has read them. I am NOT saying read Tom Sawyer, I am saying read books published by responsible publishers, like Baen and Tor. Now, it does happen that there are MANY free books that are in the public domain. As for DTB cost vs Ebook cost: all I am saying is that the publishers model is broken, and they need to fix it. When you sell a book for $12 and the creative (author) gets $2, thats a broken system.
    Well their books hold no sway o'er me, because I would rather support a responsible business.

    "The actual production of books is the smallest part of the cost especially until the development costs are recouped." That is where the model is broken. If they are spending more than 50% of the price of a book on marketing, you are borked. If you went to an investor and said "I need $3 million to start a business and half will be used for marketing" you would be shown the door.

    You guys can support a dieing industry and help it rape the talent and last longer, thats fine. But I would rather buy from small publishers that give more to the author and aren't trying to screw the customer. When I buy a book for $9 and the author gets $1, thats bad. When I buy a book for $2 and the author gets $1, thats good.

  4. Here we go, from

    I got this
    Editorial: $5,000
    Packaging (cover design & production): $3,500
    Typeset & Interior layouts: $500
    Printing & binding: $12,000
    Marketing: $6,000
    Warehousing: $3,000
    Sales: $5,000

    now, if you were to publish JUST an ebook, it would only cost $16,000 as you can drop packaging, typeset, printing and warehouse. Well, you probably can't drop typeset. SO, when a book is published both DTB AND electronic, the ebook cost 90%-200% of the DTB. Noboby sees the problem with that? Going from DTB to ebook is nearly free as the book is already in electronic form for printing, they didn't use a dam printing PRESS.


  5. PS
    Remember, this rant was aimed at people who already own the ereader. I only suggesting that people who already own an ereader stop buying DTBs.

  6. Baen Books, you say? Ok, lets take a look. Hmm. A great free library, no doubt. Ive read a lot of it and some of it is great, some not so great. But lets actually BUY a book from Baen. Ebooks are about $6 on average. Paperbacks average $8. Hard cover $25.

    I have never ordered an ebook from them but I can comment on the DTBs. Hardcovers are ok but hey, at $25 a pop they better be. The paperbacks really suck bad. Very poor quality. Never again will I purchase a paperback from Baen. I ordered several at once and regretted it.

    So the kindle is gonna save you about $2 a book from Baen and you won't have to put up with poor quality. Thats good. Otherwise cough up the $25 for a hardcover. Thats not so good.

    I would think that regardless of the format sold, the author is probably receiving the same amount per book. So they pump out pulp for $8 and still charge $6 for the ebook that cost nothing. How is that any different than what the big publishers are doing?

  7. Baen books suck because the physical binding sucks, I hate that as well. But ebooks don't have bindings so Baen's (notoriously) bad quality doesn't impact the ebooks.

    My point about Baen is that they have good, cheap ebooks, and in fact they also have FREE ebooks.

    Dood, go ahead and read DTBs, its fine. My point was (is): if you purchase a kindle, go ALL IN and stop paying for DTBs. I am not against DTBs in general. What I object to is someone buying an ebook reader, then purchasing the DTB version of a NY Times best cellar (or any other DTB.)

    And hey, if you read books because they are on the NYT list, bite me, you're a tool.

  8. One more thing,
    under ANY circumstances should you buy a Baen DTB paperback. Unless they have a new printer/binder. The last time I bought a Baen book (2 ish years ago) the binding was destroyed half way through the first read of the book. Too bad, as I like many of their books, and it sounds like the bindings still suck based on Uncle Pat's experience.

  9. Oh,
    ONE more thing... :)
    Pat:"I'm not going to pay very much to reread a classic like Tom Sawyer" Agreed, but as an ebook tom sawyer is free. BUT, you should really (re)read Moby-Dick as an adult (also free), its a fantastic book.

  10. My next read is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I love the quote"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." Sweet. My kind of book.

  11. What if the book isn't available in ebook form?

  12. "What if the book isn't available in ebook form?"
    don't read it. :)
    but I have yet to find a book that I want to read that is no available as an ebook.

    "There are worlds other than these."

  13. Textbooks are generally not available in eformat. I looked at the text books for my last four classes and none of them were available in e-format.

  14. @Melanie thats true.
    Can you give me the title and author of some of the books that you couldn't find?

  15. The Leadership Experience Fourth Edition by Richard L. Daft
    ISBN-13: 978-0-324-53968-4
    ISBN-10: 0-324-53968-1
    List price $175.95 (Paperback)
    Very good book.