New Vonnegut book sale Kindles my ire

OK, this pisses me off.

An unpublished novella by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is going to be published. That’s cool.

Even though it was originally rejected by the Saturday Evening Post — one assumes the editors had their reasons; even great authors write clunkers, especially early-on — it would be fun to read. I’m a huge fan of Vonnegut, it’s interesting to see how an author evolves.

But the book will only be published as a “Kindle single” on the Kindle reading device.

There are, of course, several reading devices out there — e-reader is the term, I believe. I haven’t bought one for a variety of reasons — I still prefer books, I am reluctant to buy something else that is going to end up being obsolete in five years when its maker abandons it, I don’t relish yet another computer device that will go wrong.

And so on.

So this irritates me on a number of levels.

The publisher is essentially saying “if you want to buy this book, you have to play the game by our rules.” In a capitalistic society, where the consumer is supposedly king, this is a rather snotty attitude. Treating your customers as if it is their job to figure out how to buy something from you is a good way to go out of business.

How many newspapers would we sell if we told people they had to drive to our building and pick them up every morning? 

To read something I want I have to buy something else that I don’t want that will commit me to buying other stuff usable only on that device, a bait-and-switch that any drug dealer handing out free samples at an elementary school would both understand and endorse.

This attitude makes work of one of the nation’s greatest writers unavailable except to a select few who play the publisher’s game.

I know why they do this — an exclusive deal with the Kindle makers means Kindle is one step further towards becoming a necessary utility everyone has to own. Tell the folks who made 8-track tapes how well that strategy works. Kindle is competing with Nooks and iPads and a bunch of other things (click) and nobody knows, in five years, which will survive, if any.

My bet: Something we have no clue about now will blow them all directly into the trash heap.

Which means that this work will never be available on the used market — how does one buy a used e-book? — which also means that as all those Kindle memories that hold it break down or are recycled or end up obsolete and abandoned, Vonnegut’s book will slowly disappear, available only on the cloud or something, who knows?

So, people at RosettaBooks, put the thing on paper, or at least make it a download I can read on my own computer. Tell me where to send my money.

I’d love to do business with you, but it has to be on terms agreeable to both of us or no deal.


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12 Responses to New Vonnegut book sale Kindles my ire

  1. Greg Freed says:


    You’re a bit misinformed about how Kindle exclusives work. Kindle Singles (and all other titles available through Amazon) are available on all reading platforms that run a Kindle app, which is essentially all Kindle devices, all full tablets (not the Nook), and PC and Mac. You can read this title on all devices except for the Nook and Kobo proprietary ereaders.

    Hope this helps alleviate some of the pain.


    • Charles Trentelman says:

      then they need to say that, don’t they?

      Oh wait, in the era of communiations it is up to the buyer to figure out how to buy, not up to the seller. Sorry.

  2. GaryG says:

    It’s quite well known, and widely advertised, that Kindle books are available on multiple platforms. Have you read nothing about Kindle/Amazon over last few years?

    And yes, as a consumer, it’s up to you, at least in part, to learn about the products you might buy. It’s your protection against making the wrong purchase or getting scammed.

  3. Pingback: New Vonnegut book sale Kindles my ire – StandardNet (blog) | | Daily Technology News Magazine

  4. Charles Trentelman says:

    But I do know the products I want to buy, Garyg. If they want to sell something new to me, don’t they need to tell me how to buy it?

    This is what’s always fascinated me about sales in the new technology era — people constantly drive technology by coming out with stuff and saying “well, you need to upgrade to access that.” It sets off the continual churning of technology that costs massive amounts of money for stuff that ends up in the thriftstore in five years.

    So if I want to read this book on my computer I need to know about an app that I then need to seek out and hope that whoever wrote that app didn’t write it in such a way that it messes with that same computer.

    But what if I want to read it without my computer? Tough luck for me, I guess, but it seems to me to be poor business to intentionally eliminate a potential market. Books have not gone the way of the 8-track, not yet.

  5. azad jain says:

    Read free eBook at – A disgraceful picture of a Indian village on event of a temple opening ceremony (pran prathista mahotsav). Ironic thing about this event was straying dogs have permit to enter in their ceremony but the common public & small kids who is actually dweller of that village can’t permit inside to see the event. Read my book for more pictures & detail story about Indian village. Indian public can change India if they change their philosophy. Look these small kids of a village what do you think a best place for them? Outside a temple as a beggar or inside a world class school for education? Decide yourself. I think Building 100 temples in village will not make difference but if they build one world-class school,collage,hospital or institute that will make difference in the whole area. Why can’t we leave religions behind & spend money on human beings? Read my book at least one time –

  6. Steve says:

    Why do you feel so entitled? They don’t have to give you anything. You didn’t write the book nor do you own the rights to the book. I am not saying I agree with their decision but it is their decision. This “blog post” is immature and uninformed.

  7. Pingback: Unpublished Kurt Vonnegut novella gets released for Kindle – | | Daily Technology News Magazine

  8. Buy in Ogden says:

    I sort got of the same feeling when the Standard Examiner decided I needed to go to their web site in order to read the Doonesbury cartoons. If I wanted to see it I needed one of those newfangled computers rather than reading it in the old fashioned newspaper.
    Don’t you just hate it when corporations determine how their readers will be able to access information?
    The one smacks of censorship while the other is just driven by a desire to make a profit by “encouraging” users to buy their product.

  9. Pingback: Unpublished Vonnegut novella released for Kindle – Vancouver Sun | | Daily Technology News Magazine

  10. packsoldier says:

    Charles, your column is missing one sentence at the end.

    “And get off my lawn!”

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