OK, this pisses me off.
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.