Read Before You Buy

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Kindle is probably the best human invention after panty hose. For the gadget to be able to change the mind of an old fashioned reader like me who used to think that a book is something with pages made of paper that you can leaf through says a lot about how good it is.

Apart from the functions of checking word meanings by placing the cursor next to the new word and highlighting notes which can be extracted to a computer file for later, one can also download samples of books and read the beginning part before deciding whether to buy it. We can say goodbye to the days of condemning a book to a forgotten space on the shelf reading a few pages and finding that it is not suitable.

Kindle users have invested a sizeable amount of money to buy the gadget to begin with, so it will only make economic sense for them to make buying books from Amazon a habit. Take my Kindle, which costs USD189 (plus the USD60 for the cover), for an example. If I only ever buy, say, five e-books, how expensive they will be on average if the cost of the Kindle is put into the equation, compared with if I will buy a few hundred in the long run? And while this makes economic sense to the consumer, it certainly also makes business sense to Amazon.

Enabling the consumer to read book samples will no doubt promote book sales. I fear that the flip side of it is that writers will put ever more effort in writing brilliant book openings just to lure readers into making a purchase. But then this probably has always been the case before the days of e-books. Apart from "judging a book by its cover", do consumers in a bookshop not make the decision of whether to buy a book by scanning it and reading the first few pages of it?

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