Still not on Kindle #1
An average of almost 3,000 books a day were added to the USA Kindle store last month, and that wasn’t a fluke. I record the average in my monthly Snapshots.
The vast majority of those are indies (independently published books).
A considerably smaller number are newly published by the tradpubs (traditional publishers).
Some of them, though, are books previously published by tradpubs, but appearing in the Kindle store for the first time.
When the USA Kindle store first opened, fewer than ten years ago, there were under 100,000 titles…and a lot of the discussion was about when we would get those big name “backlist” titles.
Well, we have been getting them…some of them, at any rate.
What’s the barrier to getting them all? After all, doesn’t it make sense for publishers to make the books available in multiple formats?
One big factor is the rights…you can’t just publish a book because you want to do that, if it’s still under copyright protection (not in the public domain). You have to get authorization from the rightsholder, which may be the author or the author’s estate.
Just because you paid for the license to publish a book in one format (hardback, for example) doesn’t mean you have the right to publish it as an e-book.
Prior to about 2005, e-book rights were not typically negotiated at the same time as p-book (paperbook) rights. There just really much of a market for e-books until after the Kindle was released in 2007…so for one thing, nobody knew how to price the license, even if they even knew or cared about the format.
Depending on the book and the author’s standing, the license may be for some time…even ten years.
Going back to negotiate for a new or additional right is hard work. There has to be a real value in it to make it worthwhile.
Many book contracts also have “rights reversion”, a process by which the rights return to the author…either after a certain amount of time, or if certain conditions aren’t met. For example, a contract might say that if the publisher doesn’t sell 100 copies in a year, the rights go back to the author. If the rights go back to an author who is effectively out of the business at that point, getting the license to publish an e-book version may be next to impossible.
There can also be some technical challenges. A book published in the 1950s, even a well-known and beloved one, may not have an electronic version. Digitization costs money. You also can’t just throw words on a screen and have it do well. Formatting challenges, especially for books with images, may be considerable.
If you are going to market the book, there can be costs involved with that as well, of course.
Still, it happens. 🙂
The best resource for Kindleers on the web, eReaderIQ, maintains a list of
We’ve gotten lots of great titles, sometimes from Amazon itself licensing the books, as was the case with the Ian Fleming James Bond novels
Even given that, Amazon has a looooong way to go to reach their early stated goal of “every book ever published…”
I wonder if books do not get published in e-book, even if they continue to be sold in p-book, if they will start to fade in the pop culture consciousness. If a movie or TV series is not available streaming, but is available on DVD, do younger people know it? Does it get written about in blogs? Since people don’t get reinforced in their memories of it by seeing it in searches, even if they aren’t going to watch it right then, will memories of it fade?
Will that happen with some books which used to be well-known, even in certain communities?
I don’t know for sure, but I am sure that being in e-book form raises a book’s profile.
In this first “Still Not on Kindle” post (I can’t believe I haven’t done this before), here are some books which have had fame and/or fandom (and which I’ve read and value), but aren’t available currently in the USA Kindle store:
Gerald Durrell’s books
Durrell was a naturalist who “collected” wild animals (and a strong conservationist). I loved these books, and still have many in paper. I’m always careful to say that I don’t recommend this, but we did have some exotics when I as a kid (a wallaroo, for example, which is like a small kangaroo; an armadillo ((a surprisingly good pet)); tree shrews; and many reptiles and amphibians, to name a few).
These books were written with great humor, and some of them were big hits:
- A Zoo in My Luggage
- My Family and Other Animals (later made into a TV series)
- Three Tickets to Adventure
The original Doc Savage adventures
I’ve written in this blog before about Doc, who is one of my fictional heroes. First published in 1933 as a pulp, there were 181 adventures which were later re-published by Bantam in paperback (which is when I first discovered them).
There are new Doc Savage books being written which are in the USA Kindle store, but the original adventures are not.
I’m hoping something happens when a long-gestating new movie is released, but nothing so far.
Herbie Popnecker comics
Herbie Popnecker (the “Fat Fury”) was not your typical superhero. The comic was wry, socially aware, and even featured appearances by well-known politicians of the day. It was adult in the way The Simpsons is adult. I firmly believe that a movie of this could do very well, and I have one of the “archives” in paper…but I would dearly love to have this in the Kindle format. It would look great on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX.
The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
I consider this a truly significant book, in which homo sapiens is look at as a scientist would look at another species. It was made into a movie (which didn’t capture the feeling of the book much at all, in my opinion). Some other books by Morris are available, but this one is not.
Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz Byrne
Loved, loved, loved this book! Yes, I had read an entire unabridged dictionary as a kid, but this has a love of words, and was so much fun! There are other books about unusual words, but this one deserves an electronic existence, in my opinion.
Obviously, that just scratches the surface for me. I plan to do more in this series later…you know, until Amazon actually has every book ever published. 😉
What do you think? Are there books you are waiting to be Kindleized? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.