Boek english

Amazon responded

Amazon did respond to my open letter about the Kindleand it did not take as long as it took me to put it up here (blaming my time off the last few weeks ;)). So here it goes:

Hello Kevin,
I’m Darren Bafus of’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.
I’ve researched your issues with our content team, and should be able to address each point for you.
The app for your iPhone was displaying the cost of the Kindle book in the U.S. Kindle Store, while your Kindle and your visit to the website were displaying the price for you as a Belgian customer. We recommend always using the Kindle or our website when viewing Kindle content, at least as far as prices go, because the website app isn’t going to show non-US pricing for Kindle content.
The actual price you see for the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series (one of my favorites, both in print and the recent TV adaptation) is set by the publisher, in this case Random House Digital, Inc. Not all Kindle content is priced by us – in the case of books offered by publishers like Random House Digital, you’ll see "This price was set by the publisher" on the product page.
Small errors in both the EU and US versions of "A Game of Thrones" were noted, and we’re currently working with the publisher to get them resolved. The reviews you saw concerning OCR errors for the U.S. version were for a previous version, and most of those were fixed some time back. We agree the use of OCR isn’t an excuse for simple errors like character mis-recognition, and we bring these issues to the publishers immediately when we find them.
I hope this information is helpful, Kevin. Please feel free to reply to this email if I can be of further assistance.
Darren P. Bafus
Executive Customer Relations

First lesson for me as a Belgian Customer: get rid of the iPhone app. Apparently of no use to me.

Second, as I fear, the pricing is a move by the publisher. Now, we could have a discussion about whether this is a fair price, but

  1. that discussion has been going on for a long time on as many locations, no need to have the same one here again
  2. there is nothing Amazon can do

Or is there? If publishers don’t realize that they can’t keep asking way too much money for eBooks it could kill the platform (or drive piracy) which will hurt Amazon in the end.

I’m glad to see they too think those errors can’t be and it’s good to see them acting on it. As noted, the comments are about older versions. Perhaps, like MrBerre said in a comment on my previous post, they should mark those older reviews in a way.

Beyond Amazon

This, however, did not stop me to look for alternatives. Of course, there is the Gutenberg project that has specific version of their books for the Kindle. Besides that, there are several eBook stores like the one from Google. But of course, it is not in Google’s interest to offer Kindle versions of their books and the ePub format they use is not supported by the Kindle. This can be fixed by downloading and using the tool Calibre, which allows you to convert the ebook to a kindle-friendly format.

Boek english Tech

Dear Amazon, stop killing the kindle

Hi Jeff,

In March, for my birthday, friends and family gave me a kindle. I was over the moon. This device is all I need and I’ve been reading books on the train, at home, at work during break, … I take it everywhere. The device is brilliant, but I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with the service. I’m here to tell you about them so you can fix this. Because I really want this to work. I’m going to give you an example that bundles my griefs: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Kindle Edition, of course).

With the hype surrounding the series that are based on the books, I took my iPhone, fired up the app and went looking for the book. This is what I found:


As you can see, the result I get is $8.99. Fair enough. I put the book on my wishlist. When I go to bed, I take my kindle, open my wishlist and see the book priced at $10.57. Straight from my wishlist, Jeff! Same book, same version! I get out of bed (imagine the look on my girlfriend’s face) and get my laptop. On, I find the book for the same $10.57.
I don’t get it, Jeff. Why is the iPhone app giving me different prices?

Being on the site, I decided to check out another problem I have with the kindle edition and that’s how it compares to paper. I find 2 paperback versions: one at $10.36 and a mass market version at $8.99 (is this where the pricing went wrong?). Both versions are cheaper then the kindle version. I admit, not much, but still.

This baffles me. It’s cheaper for me to buy dead trees then a digital format. Now I know there’s some effort to make a good, digital version. I’ve heard from writers I know personally that this requires quite a cost from the publisher. But I just can’t get my head around the fact that this would result in a more expensive book. I will add that I can be persuaded about this so if you can shed a light on why this is, please do.

But what makes it worse is that whatever the explanation might be, I’m afraid it won’t fly for this particular book. Have a look at the reviews of the book. Particularly the lower scores. You’ll notice that quite a lot of them are about the kindle edition. The sloppy editing, the ‘rn’ becoming ‘m’ kind of errors one can expect when you quickly scan a document with OCR. Not, however, in a professional digital version of a highly acclaimed book.

I know Amazon isn’t necessarily responsible for this, but it does make or break the kindle. And in that regard, you should care about the quality of those books. Head over to some torrent sites and have a look at the quality of illegal books you can get there. It’s amazing, really. The community really strives to deliver. I expect nothing less from a company like yours. Actually, I expect more. I want to give you my money, I really do. So please, fix this.

Pretty please.


Kevin De Mulder