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Old 04-12-2008, 08:03 AM   #76
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Content is definitely the most important thing. My question though is what are all those extra 70,000 titles that are available on the Kindle, but not on the eReader? I went through some of my favorite authors and couldn't find any books listed that weren't available through Sony. While that's not a scientific survey or anything, I would have expected to find at least a few with that big of a difference. Certainly, I would be quite willing to buy a Kindle if it really does have books that I want that aren't available on the eReader, but I don't see them. Am I missing something?
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:22 AM   #77
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Content is definitely the most important thing. My question though is what are all those extra 70,000 titles that are available on the Kindle, but not on the eReader? I went through some of my favorite authors and couldn't find any books listed that weren't available through Sony. While that's not a scientific survey or anything, I would have expected to find at least a few with that big of a difference. Certainly, I would be quite willing to buy a Kindle if it really does have books that I want that aren't available on the eReader, but I don't see them. Am I missing something?
I'm with you. These are statistics which I have a hard time digesting without more information about what titles they represent. Unfortunately, there's no simple way that I know of to compare what Sony offers for the Reader with what Amazon offers for the Kindle or what any other site offers in various formats. None of them provide a way to assess what's there quickly by providing a downloadable database, for instance. You either have to know what you're looking for and search for it or else you have to slowly page through listings. If I had a lot of time I might do a comparison of the two sites on a small sampling of titles (say, a few hundred) but I don't have the energy for that.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:44 AM   #78
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I'm with you. These are statistics which I have a hard time digesting without more information about what titles they represent.
One problem, as noted by vivaldirules, is what the numbers represent. I would like to know how many of the Kindle and Sony titles are (a) variations on a theme (e.g., instead of 2 copies of Moby Dick does it include 25 copies) and (b) how many are public domain titles, such as Moby Dick, that one carries numerous versions of but the other doesn't.

Of course, there is another way to look at it -- or three ways: Will I live long enough to read the 100,000 Kindle titles or 40,000 Sony titles? (Not likely unless I can learn to speed read 10+ books a day!) What difference does it make that Kindle has 100,000 and Sony has 40,000 if one or both do not have the title I am looking for today? (It just means frustration, that's all!) And, finally, what good does it do if Kindle has 100,000 titles but I don't want to read 37 varieties of Moby Dick!

In the end, the statistics are just a sucker's game in that some of us suckers make our buying decision based on fantasy numbers that have little relevance to our personal habits, especially as things change rather than be static.

Now if only I could figure out what W.C. Fields would say about this . . .
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:19 PM   #79
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I did a little experiment. I went to the SF category for the Kindle and scrolled through the 400 most popular, noting the various authors and books that I was interested in, ignoring the books that I know are available on Sony. Then I went to the Sony web site and search for those authors and books. There were only one or two authors that I couldn't find on the Sony site (Simon Winchester is the biggest name author that I couldn't find on Sony, not SF, but an author whom I like). However, I did notice while the authors were there, there were some titles not listed on the Sony site that were on the Amazon site. I also noticed that Amazon had quite a few titles that were listed twice. Also, there were several public domain titles that are available elsewhere for the Sony, but not listed on the Sony store (The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison for example).

I think what we are seeing is a couple of things. First, Amazon is definitely making more of an effort to get content up. I have to wonder if Sony just isn't willing to put the resources into the effort that Amazon is. Second, Amazon is including public domain books and has quite a few books that are including twice. It seems to be most common with series, where I see the book listed both with the normal title and then with the series name included with the title.

The biggest thing that I don't see, that I was worried about, is books that are exclusive to Amazon. Pretty much all the books available on Amazon seem to be available on either Sony or a site like Fictionwise. Of course, the problem is that most customers aren't going to want to go to the effort of looking in multiple places.
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:34 PM   #80
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I had considered Amazon's multiple listings of public domain books earlier in this thread. I think I concluded that although they may sell dozens of different versions of Moby Dick, there just aren't that many public domain titles in their list. Maybe a thousand or two. If you exclude those, then how many of the remaining 110,000 plus titles can be duplicates? I don't think very many.

Both Sony and Amazon are putting in fair efforts to add new titles (110 and 183 per day, respectively) but it's clear Amazon's numbers are just larger. Still, who knows if they are books that any of us want to read?
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:18 PM   #81
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That was why I looked at the 400 most popular SF ebooks, rather than a random group of authors that I like. I wanted to see how many authors that people are reading were in just one venue. Now, it could just be that there were an extraordinary number of PD books in SF, but I saw a lot of Conan, Solomon Kane (both by Howard) and Oz books. Also, it seemed to me that most of the books were either by a small group of authors (Jim Butcher, Terry Brooks, Laurell Hamilton, Stephen King, Rachael Caine to name a few), i.e. popular authors who have bought into the ebook concept, or were the romance novels masquerading as SF/occult (not surprising since this is a growing percentage of currently published SF).

Obviously, Amazon's numbers are bigger and Amazon seems to be making a concerned effort to make sure that if a book is available in ebook format, it's available from them for the Kindle. I wish that Sony was putting the same sort of effort into it, or at least coming up with an alternate method for providing content. On the other hand, I think that it's pretty likely that within a two to five year space, technology will have advanced enough that both readers will be obsolete and some sort of standard format will emerge. The only question in my mind is will there be a method for moving content onto the new format. I think that as the downloadable music wars wind down and music continues down the path of non DRM, how Apple and iTunes handles the situation will provide template for how the question of proprietary formats will be handled. If Apple provides a way for customers to un-DRM their music, pretty much all vendors will have to follow suit in ebooks as well as music.
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Old 04-12-2008, 04:50 PM   #82
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Sony vs. Amazon vs. Pbooks: A Test on a Portion of My Library

Attached is a spreadsheet containing 250 titles that I own - most as pbooks, a few as ebooks. These aren't necessarily titles I or anyone else is looking for right now but they are ones that I have actually spent money on in the past and most of them I would love to have as ebooks. I've then gone to the Amazon and Sony sites to see if they sell them as ebooks and I've also looked at the Amazon site to see if they are still in print (many I bought decades ago). I figure you can't really blame them for not making ebooks available for titles you can't buy in pbook form. I've omitted public domain titles and textbooks. The books include Fiction, SciFi, Fantasy, Science, History, Philosophy, Civil Affairs, Spiritual, and other Nonfiction books. I quit at 250 because I didn't want to spend forever at this. It took me six hours as it is. Here's what I found:
  • Of the 250 titles, 205 are currently in print (i.e., in pbook form).
  • Of the 45 that aren't in print, 0 are available in ebook form.
  • Of the 205 titles currently in print, 52 of them (25%) are available in ebook form.
  • Of the 52 available as ebooks, Amazon had 51 one of them and Sony had 45 of them.
  • Amazon had 7 ebooks that Sony did not.
  • Sony had 1 ebook that Amazon did not.
Also, for a few authors (Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Ian Stewart), I noticed that Amazon had several more titles listed as ebooks than Sony, although the titles weren't in my list of 250. There were no cases I noted where Sony had more titles for an author than Amazon. There was also one reference book, The Dictionary of Cliches, where Amazon didn't have the ebook by the particular author I have, but they had similar ebooks by other authors. Sony did not.

About 22 of the 52 titles that are available in ebook form are ones that I have bought in the last nine months since I bought my Reader and might not have bought at all if I did not have a Reader. Since then, I have been leaning towards buying ebooks instead of pbooks. That biases the percentage of my titles available in that form to the high side. If I just consider the titles that I had as of last July, then the percentage that are now available in ebook form is about 15% instead of 25%.
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:01 PM   #83
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Interesting. A couple of notes and comments.

First, looking at your SF, most of the books that aren't available in ebook (Dune for example) were first published prior to PC's being common and may not yet be available in electronic form (yes, I know that most of them are available on the net where fans have scanned them in, I'm saying that the original manuscript was submitted on paper rather than as a electronic document). That explains why there are so many odd gaps in book availability. For example, why the third book of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni trilogy being available and the first two are not.

Nivan and Pournelle's Oath of Fealty is available in electronic form from Baen Books and can be downloaded in both formats.

Robert Frost is widely available on the net.

I'm not terribly surprised that some of the public domain and obscure non fiction titles are available on Amazon, but not Sony. That seems to be the biggest gap between Sony and Amazon. Amazon seems to be making sure that every book available in electronic format is available in Kindle format from Amazon and Sony isn't. I'm actually a bit surprised that Amazon hasn't approached Baen books about having their entire selection of ebooks available through the Amazon store. Perhaps they did and there are legal issues. That might be an interesting question to ask on the Baen web site.
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Old 04-12-2008, 06:14 PM   #84
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Nivan and Pournelle's Oath of Fealty is available in electronic form from Baen Books and can be downloaded in both formats.
Really? I would have guessed that if Baen had them, then so did Amazon or Sony. Thanks, I'll look.

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Robert Frost is widely available on the net.
Oops. I had intended to exclude all legal public domain titles.
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Old 04-12-2008, 07:15 PM   #85
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The biggest thing that I don't see, that I was worried about, is books that are exclusive to Amazon.
John Scalzi's "The Ghost Brigades" is the one book I've been interested in that's available on Kindle but not Sony - Published by Tor, so slightly odd that it's even available on Amazon, as they've not been big on eBooks 'till recently.
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Old 04-20-2008, 11:54 PM   #86
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John Scalzi's "The Ghost Brigades" is the one book I've been interested in that's available on Kindle but not Sony - Published by Tor, so slightly odd that it's even available on Amazon, as they've not been big on eBooks 'till recently.
I just sent a fairly scathing email to Tor for being in bed with Amazon and not supporting other readers. Please everyone, do the same thing so they'll know how you feel. All I did was use the email address in the Tor newsletter ("Tor.com" <questions@tor.com>)
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Old 04-25-2008, 09:35 AM   #87
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In the past two weeks, Sony has added fewer than 450 new titles (a 1.1% increase) and they have just spilled over the count of 40,000 ebooks for sale at their eBook Store (that number includes a fairly small number of double counts). The rate at which they're adding new titles continues to slow this spring.
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Old 04-27-2008, 08:25 PM   #88
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If I had to guess why Amazon has a leg up on this it would be because they have been digitizing books for their "Look Inside" feature for a long time. So for them, all they have to do is go get the OK from the publisher (who may or may not have to negotiate with the author depending on when they were published - early contracts may not have included rights to digital versions, for instance) and then they can basically just push a button and get the stuff ready for Kindle. Meanwhile Sony probably has to wait for publishers to provide digital versions, then convert them, then put them on the store...

I think we'll see Sony catch up soon enough. It's really only a matter of time before all the publishers have the digital versions of everything they publish distributed to a wide variety of ebook stores. I don't see exclusive deals being signed by any publishers until there is a reason to do so - it's too early for Penguin for instance to decide that they're only going to sell in Kindle format. And ultimately "choosing sides" in this potential format war is going to be pointless. This isn't like the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD battle since there are really no production costs that publishers have to take on. Just like publishers sell to Borders and B&N and Amazon and BooksAMillion, they'll sell the ebook to anyone that wants to sell it (provided it's all DRM'd-up to make them feel safe about piracy).
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:32 AM   #89
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In the past two weeks, Sony has added over 1400 new titles for the Reader (a 3.6% increase) and now have nearly 42,000 ebooks for sale at their eBook Store (that number includes a fairly small number of double counts). They've been particularly busy adding Fiction & Lit titles, Romances, and also short stories in SF & Fantasy. They've also added a new category for Juvenile Fiction with several books by Beverly Cleary. This activity is comforting to see given Sony's somewhat sluggish activity the last three months. The long trend (at least, since mid-September) continues with Sony averaging 105 new books per day to their offerings. By contrast, Amazon has been adding an average of 189 new titles per day for the Kindle since late November and now lists 122,880 titles (that number includes some multiple counts and also self-published titles that the Sony figure doesn't include).
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:35 AM   #90
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I feel it's certainly a marketing ploy for Sony to offer short stories. (Additonally, many people love short stories. I know I do.)

But even so, as a "Total Count Strategy," it makes good marketing sense, as well, to have these availabe as it quickly increases the total number of titles available.

However, I would really like to see a large number of short story collections "exploded" out so that short stories of one's choosing could be available rather than a whole book of stories.

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