Why I’m not writing about the biggest e-book of the year

There’s a huge story out there right now.   A major book, from a major author and a major publisher, has sold more copies at Amazon as a Kindle book than as a hardback.

It’s a watershed moment.  It’s likely to change perceptions in the publishing industry and the media that cover it.  The release date of that book is the day we can say that e-books had arrived.

Amazon clearly worked to persuade the publisher to release it in e-book and p-book (paperbook) simultaneously.   They apparently failed in that attempt with with Twelve, the publisher of Ted Kennedy’s memoir, True Compass.   Speculation is already underway about Stephen King’s Under the Dome from Scribner’s: simultaneous release or staggered?

The current megarelease is more than five dollars cheaper in e-book than in p-book, but that’s not a discouragement for the publisher.  The publisher’s list price for the hardback and Digital List Price are the same ($29.95).  In both cases, Amazon is probably paying the publisher $14.98 for each copy/download.   In the case of the hardback, Amazon is probably making a bit of direct money.  In the case of the e-book, Amazon is probably losing direct money on each sale…but making it up in other ways (like publicity for e-books and the Kindle).

So, why am I not writing about this unprecedentedly successful book?

It’s published by Random House. 

RH is one of the largest publishers in the world, with many imprints.  I own many of their books, and count some of the authors published by RH as among my favorites.

Unfortunately, Random House has made a corporate decision with which I disagree.  They have chosen to block the otherwise available text-to-speech capabilities of the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.

This decision disproportionately affects the disabled.   For that reason, I’m not comfortable giving them my money or encouraging others to do the same.

I do think this is a very individual decision with a lot of complications.  I don’t hold it against anybody who chooses to buy Random House products.

I’ll write more about the issue in later posts, but now you know why I haven’t mentioned it before. I debated with myself whether or not to even explain it, but I thought some of you would appreciate knowing.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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