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Amazon Sells More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the takes-way-more-to-stuff-a-stocking-though dept.

Books 111

ctmurray writes "Amazon reports for the first time ever they sold more ebooks on one day than real books. My wife is an ebook-only author and reported her largest single day sales on Christmas day, and December has been her best month ever as well. All those Kindles bought for this season are being seen in ebook sales." The battle with publishers over pricing seems to be coming to the fore as well.

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111 comments

fist post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30563040)

I havent been banned from posting from this computer because I don't live here. I'm just visting my girfriend's parents.

I'd just like to take the opportunity to say, "Fuck you, Slashdot."

Bunch of group-think retards.

New feature (2, Interesting)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563066)

All "books" come with disappearing ink.

Greedy publishers (5, Interesting)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563068)

Why isn't Amazon getting into the publishing business to avoid all these greedy publisher problems? They have enough weight to put out ebooks without the involvement of people who seek out to drain every dollar from the author of the book, so I am not getting it. Perhaps contractual obligations prevent them from doing so, but we are no longer living in the time when only the guy with the printing press dictated how things are done. Or am I wrong?

Re:Greedy publishers (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563102)

First, they have to prove that there is a market.

The eBooks publishing method and the actual recruitment of authors are two separate businesses. In the laster case, they have to build up an infrastructure of editors and associated staff, and even a financing arm (for advances).

They may simply not want to take the risk and capital cost to get into the publishing business, preferring to do "one" thing well: distribution.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566486)

I keep wondering what infrastructure and financing you need if you're not dealing in dead trees and brick-and-mortar any more. Editing can be contracted out at the responsibility of the author who would just deliver a document in a specific format. Amazon would tally the sales and pay the author. That's it.
I think publishing as a business is dead, they just don't know it yet.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567772)

I can see a time coming where I will want to buy ebooks over real paper based books.

I think the ebooks market is there, but I do not think it will completly displace paper based books

Re:Greedy publishers (2, Interesting)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567076)

They already do allow authors to cut out the middelmen and go direct. As long as you hold the digital rights for your work, it can be easily formatted and uploaded for the kindle store, then you sit back and wait for your tiny percentage to roll in. But like with iPhones, you still have to market yourself like crazy as Amazon will put in no effort to get your book found when people are browsing.

Re:Greedy publishers (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563126)

They are in the publishing business - it's called booksurge [booksurge.com] and is apparently in the process of being rebranded CreateSpace.

This is print on demand, self publishing stuff but reading the above articles make it pretty clear to me that this is where stuff is headed. The big publishing houses don't make a lot of sense any more. Pretty much like music.

Re:Greedy publishers (3, Interesting)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563334)

How is it clear that this is where publishing is headed? This makes no sense at all to me.

Booksurge allows for smaller runs of books with authors running their own publicity -- the only person I can think of who has done this successfully is Wil Wheaton, who had a leg up in the form of childhood fame. What it does not give you is an established infrastructure for support, connections with other publishers/countries, advances, editorial advice, and additional contracts/advertising. These are all things that I would imagine are very, very useful for writers.

For readers, traditional publishing houses offer filters in the form of editors and the people who read the slush pile. When you buy a book from a large publishing house like Tor, Penguin, or Macmillan, you can expect a certain level of quality in the writing. This isn't say that all of their books are good or will fit your tastes, but there's a certain standard that the editors at those houses will try to adhere to; it's how they stay in business.

To use a car analogy, a traditional publishing house is like a dealership that sells only new Hyundais; you might not like everything or the prices, but you can expect a certain standard. A self-publisher like Booksurge would be more like a dealership that specializes in selling cars built from the ground-up, or kit cars... by hobbyists. Sure, some people may know what they're doing and you'll get an amazing car, but a lot of them will probably be crap.

Re:Greedy publishers (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563588)

It could still head that way. Then reviewers and review sites might become important. You don't make as much from being a reviewer. But economists might say that's a sign of the market becoming more efficient ;).

Nowadays I've been getting more useful reviews from food bloggers than "professional" food reviewers.

The professional food reviewers might have a more refined palate etc, but that sometimes is the problem if you're not like them at all :).

I've considered creating a site where everyone can review anything (but the review is just a score and a very short description).

Users then pick a "review POV" that matches best their "target taste", and use it to look for stuff that "target taste" might like.

The target taste doesn't have to be what you like. You could be looking for stuff someone else might like based on what you know of that person's preferences. So you find a "review POV" that likes and dislikes the same stuff, and go from there.

The trouble is finding the math and algorithms that can handle this in a large scale. The other big trouble is I'm just a lazy person with many ideas that I never ever get around to implementing. Ideas are easy, but it takes a lot of time and effort to try and implement just one idea - that's why I think patent trolls are disgusting, and patents currently cause more harm than good.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564918)

Professional reviewers on Amazon get products from Amazon for free to review (although I think they have to return them).

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

nightgeometry (661444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565046)

I had a similar idea, and did some initial work on it. Then along came the Netflix challenge, and I realised I was a) also lazy and b) didn't have anywhere near enough knowledge in the field. It seems a reasonable idea. Get people to review anything, align the users likes with others, then make recommendations. If it were that easy, surely someone would already be doing it...

Re:Greedy publishers (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563770)

"Booksurge allows for smaller runs of books..."
 
It allows for an unlimited run of ebooks. This is the issue I'm talking about. As more people purchase more books in electronic format as opposed to dead tree, big publishers will become less relevant.
 
There are still a number of services that a publisher can provide, and my guess would be that Booksurge and the like can or will provide them. So in a way, publishers will still exist, and they will still be a part of distribution but it is now all electronic and the payment structure will shift to reflect that.
 
    In the last link, about the battle with publishers over pricing, it seems apparent to me that the primary leverage the publisher brings to the table is access to the markets, but that ceases to exist with digital media.
 
This should go without saying in any web forum, but I'm not a published author and I'm not involved in the publishing business. These are just my opinions as an avid reader and someone who spends a lot of time online. That said, I read the vast majority of my books off-line. The ebook readers and their functionality still aren't there for me. The ebooks I do read, I read on my laptop. I've never payed money for an ebook.

Re:Greedy publishers (2, Insightful)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563806)

Booksurge is great for very niche products. I've bought some stuff that was published with them, that was great, but far, far from mainstream (Neopagan reconstructionism). One can see where a publisher's resources would help (higher rate of spelling errors), but overall, I think self-publishing like that is great for books with a very specific market.

That said, I agree with you that mainstream publishers aren't going anywhere. They do provide valuable services in terms of proofreading, editing and promotion, even if the actual printing aspect is likely to decline in importance.

Re:Greedy publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564208)

Yeah, there are a number of really nice Latin texts available on CreateSpace that you can't get anywhere else in print... things like the Latin translation of Treasure Island and Holberg's Iter Subterraneanum. They're great.... except that they're full of typos and have inconsistent formatting. Still, it offers a chance for a lot of stuff to become available cheaply, given some avid fans who want to become "publishers"—someone who could copyedit a text decently would sell a niche product to a niche market well.

Reviews (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564358)

First of all, the car analogy is terrible. If you spend $5 on a book, and it sucks, oh well. Spending tends of thousands on a car is a different sort of investment.

Secondly, you're ignoring how all of these bloggers are getting book deals: peer popularity. As soon as you have a community of writers openly reviewing each other's work, it will be just like Netflix. "Hey, you liked the book that so and so recommended - here's another they enjoyed." Click. $5 spent. It sucked! Oh well. If they were really smart they'd charge $3. People would just start buying on a whim.

Traditional bookstores will always exist as tepid mating grounds for nerds, and somewhere to pull out your latest Apple product to impress the girls wearing UGG boots, and as community centers for book signings for the dead tree faithful. However, I don't expect to see the continued domination of publishing houses either way. If something sells tens of thousands of copies online, and it receives good critical reviews from some schmaltzy lit mag, it doesn't matter if no one published it. It will get printed and downloaded and sold.

Re:Greedy publishers (2, Insightful)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564412)

you know there are things called book reviews that tend to help decide what books are worth reading. Heck if a book stinks you can stop reading it.

Your car analogy doesn't apply, a hand built car is a one off a book is exactly the same if there are 10 copies or 10,000 copies. It helps that some authors have a reputation so generally you can expect a certain quality. Admittedly some authors are over-rated overwise i'd never have read a book by Geoffrey Archer.

On the plus side more ebooks should make it easier to get hold of a wider selection of books and then we can buy the good ones.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566014)

Seems to me this is completely parallel with the music industry today..... A lot of people are quick to claim the big record companies are "no longer relevant", yet currently, it's still primarily the people signed to major labels who get the majority of radio airplay and exposure in the mass media. It's all in transition, but it's probably still premature to declare the traditional "big publishers" dead.

I think your point about them functioning as "filters" is key. That's the real double-edged sword of the problem, for both the music and book publishing industries. The general public doesn't really have the time (or wants to invest the time) to dig through all the content out there, to discover what's good and what's not. They like to *think* they're intelligently making those selections for themselves, but what they ACTUALLY expect (often without even consciously realizing it) is to only have to pick and choose from a limited pool. (EG. I can get on Usenet right now, and go visit an alt.binaries group specializing in complete music albums uploaded as MP3s. Unfortunately, despite all that content having ZERO cost to me, I wouldn't even waste my time downloading most of what I see there, because there are literally thousands of artists and albums up there I've never heard of before! Until I download, save, and individually listen to them, I have no clue what to expect. That doesn't strike me as entertaining or fun at all. Rather, it strikes me as a considerable amount of work!) The record labels serve that purpose of filtering and organizing the content, so at least when you or I visit the local record store (or virtual one by way of iTunes or what-not), everything is placed in categories, and we have certain expectations about the quality of the sound recording we're getting. (The major labels do at least use good quality microphones and recording equipment to make the recordings.)

On the flip-side, there are certainly some very talented writers (and musicians) out there who fall through the cracks, when forced to go through major publishers. They tend to promote material that's similar enough to a previously successful work so their risk of having a "dud" is minimized. That means people bucking the current trend are at an automatic disadvantage, if they don't find alternate channels to publish themselves.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567022)

However where things get interesting is when you introduce amazons reccomendation engine into the picture.

consider http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html [wired.com] , that was about a book that while conventionally published was relatively obscure being given a huge leg-up by amazons reccomendation system. Since afaict books published through amazons print on demand system automatically get listed by amazon I see no reason why the same couldn't happen for the better ones of them.

If (and that is a big if) conventional bookstores die out then afaict much of the advantage of using a conventional publisher will die with them.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30568418)

I think something like the Apple App Store is what we'll eventually get for books. A source of easy browsing/buying of eBooks where authors can easily self publish. Like Apple they would test for minimal quality levels and allow user ratings. I'd expect about the same arrangement of 2/3 for the author and 1/3 for the seller. I'd venture to guess that if Apple releases a tablet designed well for reading (I hope they do because that is something I struggle using the iPod Touch for) that they may add eBook's to their store. If eBooks were priced realistically (~$2.99 for a novel) I'd buy a lot of books. Some authors may want to stick with what they know but I think many would be interested in self publishing. I think established authors would be the ones to benefit the most as they probably need advances and editorial help the least. I also think that a strong self publishing option would allow authors to pressure for better deals from publishers. Maybe they'd still use a publisher with the associated benefits but they'd get higher royalties from their eBook sales. As for basics you'd think would come from publishers I've noticed most the books I've purchased in the past couple years were just full of spelling and grammar issues. IMO editing should have caught these but for eBooks I'd be glad to report the problems to the author and have the corrected version download as the author fixed things.

Re:Greedy publishers (2, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563194)

Finding good authors and hooking them up with good editors is not an easy job.

The Kindle and the Amazon web site are the only things Amazon has ever produced. Everything else, they're just a middle man.

Re:Greedy publishers (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563536)

The Kindle and the Amazon web site are the only things Amazon has ever produced.

And Amazon Web Services. You could almost describe them as a cloud computing company, who run their own e-commerce site as a reference implementation -- if it weren't for their impressive order fulfilment facilities too.

Re:Greedy publishers (3, Informative)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563428)

They are in the ebook publishing business with the Amazon Digital Test Platform: https://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin [amazon.com]

You can have your book published directly to Kindle and get better royalties than many other publishers would give you.

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563448)

s/Test/Text/

Re:Greedy publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564594)

Brilliance Audio... audiobook publishers, owned by amazon.
Booksurge - - POD publishers, owned by amazon
AmazonEncore - full our book publishing, owned by Amazon

They Don't Have Critical Mass Yet... (2, Insightful)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565506)

In order to cut traditional publishers out of the loop, they need to have a critical mass of Kindle users.

What do you think is going to happen when Amazon announces that they'd be happy to give any author 25% of all sales if they publish direct through Amazon as opposed to the 5% their publishing house gives them? All the traditional publishers will immediately pull their properties off of Amazon to try to kill their new rival (or at least, try not to keep feeding the hand that is strangling them). So Amazon's Kindle readership has to be big enough that the readership stays with them when a huge amount of back-catalogue suddenly stops being available for purchase, big enough that authors will leave behind editors they have developed working relationships with over decades to have access to.

Amazon isn't there yet.

Re:They Don't Have Critical Mass Yet... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567104)


What do you think is going to happen when Amazon announces that they'd be happy to give any author 25% of all sales if they publish direct through Amazon as opposed to the 5% their publishing house gives them?

They already do

http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=2&categoryID=12 [digitaltextplatform.com]

"5. Royalties. Provided you are not in breach of your obligations under this Agreement, we will pay you, for each Digital Book we sell, a royalty equal to thirty-five percent (35%) of the applicable Suggested Retail Price for such Digital Book, net of refunds, bad debt, and any taxes charged to a customer (including without limitation sales taxes) (a “Royalty”)."

Re:Greedy publishers (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566914)

to avoid all these greedy publisher problems?
Generally authors enter into exclusive agreements with publishers so if they want to release e-book versions of existing published books then they have no choice but to work with the publishers of those books.

Just like if itunes want the current "hit" music they have to deal with the major record companies.

How many bought both? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563088)

I'm curious to know how many people bought both paper and electronic books. I'm more than hesitant to spend a large amount of money on electronic books that come with DRM and/or oversight.

Re:How many bought both? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563988)

Well, fortunately, even if you don't own a Kindle, you now can just get the Kindle for PC copy of any book you like and pull the DRM off [slashdot.org] . And if you have a Kindle, you've been able to do the same for nearly as long as the Kindle's been out.

Re:How many bought both? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564414)

Is it easy to strip DRM on the Kindle? It seems like it ought to be something you could add to the device itself :)

Re:How many bought both? (3, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565842)

Seems that way, doesn't it... :)

Incidentally, I happen to agree with you that DRM, in general, is awful. But the truth is, for the most part, DRM just isn't a workable technology. So as long as an option exists for me to strip away the DRM on the content I purchase, I'm largely indifferent. That said, until it was clear that the Kindle DRM was thoroughly hacked, I was largely in the "not for me" camp. But now, I'd definitely consider it (once the price comes down a bit on the device), just as I'm happy to purchase DVDs.

public insanity? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30563120)

Joe Sixpack:

Monday: "Hmm... it turns out that buying DRM music was not a good idea. It's caused all sorts of problems for other people. From now on, I'll just buy plain mp3's!!"

Tuesday: "I want to buy some e-books. Hey, maybe DRM will be OK there!!"

Seriously, after the Kindle debacle, why on earth would anyone support that platform?

Re:public insanity? (3, Interesting)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563162)

Hate to break it to you, but Joe Sixpack isn't that savvy. He doesn't know what DRM is, and he hasn't a clue what fucked up his music. Same thing for Grandma Jones. They're more likely to think it's somehow the band's fault that their CD didn't work, and will never buy their music again, in any form. Or they believe that the CD player is broken, because the disc worked in a different player.

Also, bad as DRM is, most people actually don't have trouble with it.

Re:public insanity? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563422)

Also, bad as DRM is, most people actually don't have trouble with it.

Sufficient people had trouble with it, that Apple dropped DRM from iTunes Music Store.

My guess is that enough customers started kicking up a stink when their DRM'd AACs couldn't be played on some arbitrary MP3 player.

Re:public insanity? (2, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564814)

I think it had more to do with the record labels allowing it. Remember, when iTunes Plus came out, it was basically just EMI artists that were available DRM-free. After EMI didn't go out of business, and the other labels decided to allow Amazon to sell DRM-free tracks (to break Apple's hold on the digital market,) only to realize they didn't go out of business, they finally gave up and let Apple do it too.

The motivator behind DRM in music was the labels, not the distributors. I think that the same thing will eventually happen in e-Books as well -- unfortunately you can't rip a paper book to a digital format nearly as easily as you could rip CDs to MP3s, so if you want to get more than small selection of e-books legally and DRM-free, until then, you're SOL.

Re:public insanity? (0)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563520)

I'm thinking (the people who use bittorrent to get all of their media) and (the people who buy eBooks for their Kindle) are generally two different crowds. Kindle users are probably the type who got all their music from CD's and iTunes and never noticed DRM because it doesn't stop you from playing your music on your iPod.

The only reason it affects me is because I like the media to be editable. For instance, if I had a Rocky DVD, I'd edit it so it ends with Rocky saying, "I'm scared, okay?" and then the credits roll. And the new Leona Lewis CD has two songs in one track at the end, seperated by more than a minute of silence. I split it into two seperate tracks with no silence. But how many people actually care about Rocky or a hidden track that much?

Re:public insanity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564562)

What about people who torrent all of their eBooks?

Re:public insanity? (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564968)

convenience.

Moving files around to break DRM isn't convenient and the benefit is not immediately obvious to most people.

Re:public insanity? (2, Interesting)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565082)

I guess I'll wade in here with a perspective. I'm someone who has been violently opposed to any DRM in my music files, and never bought a single track from iTunes in my life. I'm also a Kindle owner who happily buys DRM'd books from Amazon all the time. How can this be?

The difference I guess is how I want to consume the two different types of media. I want to be able to play my music again and again, now, and 20 years from now, in my car, on my media player, on my 4 different PCs, and on my living room stereo. DRM basically makes this impossible, or so convoluted as to be impractical.

OTOH, I only want to read a book once. The only place that I want to read my eBook is on my Kindle. I buy a Kindle book, I read it on the Kindle, and I'm done with it. That fact that it's DRM'd never affects me. I don't care that I can't loan it or resell it later, these are just not big concerns for me. I'm willing to give up those things in exchange for the convenience of a lightweight electronic reader.

I'm also aware that Amazon has no choice, just as Apple had no choice when they first introduced iTunes. The DRM requirement is being driven by the publishers. If Amazon wants to get the big publishers on board today, there must be some kind of copy protection in place to satisfy the dinosaurs. Over time, I suspect this will change, just as it did with iTunes.

One day only (5, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563142)

It makes sense that ebooks would outsell regular books on Christmas.

How many people actually get online to buy regular books on Christmas day? The presents for others have already been bought. They aren't likely to get anything for themselves. Heck, unless you got a Kindle for Christmas you aren't likely to even go to the Amazon website on Christmas day. Most people are spending time with their family and enjoying the presents they DID receive. The people that are more into physical books likely got some physical books from friends or family. But the ones who got a Kindle will find it pretty useless until they put some books on it. Sure the gift giver may have put some books on there to begin with but more likely they gave them some cash or gift card to select their own books with.

Re:One day only (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563222)

If you got an Amazon voucher for Christmas, you might go to the web site on Christmas day and order something, but given the fact that it probably won't ship for a few days there's no rush. It's definitely not as much of a draw as wanting some eBooks for your new Kindle.

Re:One day only (2, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563502)

I got an Amazon voucher for Christmas, but I can't think of anything I want or need from there.

BTW, maybe the reason kindle books sold so well, is because the regular books were covered by dreck like this.

Amazon.com's Hot Holiday Bestsellers (Nov. 15 through Dec. 19, based on units ordered):
        * Books: "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin; "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown; and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

Re:One day only (1)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565464)

I get it, you hate Amazon, but your post doesn't make any sense. Maybe the mods meant to give you Funny instead of Insightful.

First, Amazon sells millions of books as well as mp3s, computers, household appliances, groceries, and sports equipment. How can you not think of anything you want even for free?

Second, how are the millions of regular books being "covered" by a few titles you don't like? It's not like Amazon has made their website hard to use.

Third, you can buy Dan Brown and plenty of bad authors on Kindle too.

Re:One day only (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566476)

Actually, no, I like Amazon. I just think they are being disingenuous with their statistics.

I'm sure, eventually, I'll come up with something to buy. Just right now there is nothing I need or want. Unfortunately, that is why I ended up with a gift certificate. I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I genuinely could not come up with anything to tell them.

The quote from Amazon on their best sellers was just a poke at what is popular. Those same books probably sell in the same proportions at other stores like Walmart or Barnes and Noble.

Re:One day only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30563632)

"Heck, unless you got a Kindle for Christmas you aren't likely to even go to the Amazon website on Christmas day"

I've got a Kindle prior to Christmas and I didn't buy anything for the Kindle that day.

However, it's pretty stupid of those potential shoppers otherwise. You get some of the lowest prices of the year on Christmas day and the day after. Maybe not books since those prices are fairly stable, but someone on Amazon is still there working or some algorithm is slashing prices.

But maybe I'm the only moron that has no life but saved $25+ on a lumbar pack that day while he was watching basketball on TV. It was well below half of (true) list price.

One more thing: lots of free books! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30563924)

Many titles at Amazon are free public domain titles or free samples from aspiring writers, so it's very plausible that someone with a brand new Kindle would just go online on Christmas day and download as many free titles as they could.

Kindle can fit 1,500 books, then why not add all Jules Verne, Joseph Conrad, and a lot of other books as well? Even if they are free, they still count as units sold (as exemplified by the bestsellers list at Amazon: 19 of the top 25 Kindle books are free, including the top 3).

Re:One day only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564094)

Not only that, but I downloaded a couple of dozen books from the Kindle Store that cost $0.00. I'll bet that Amazon is counting that as a 'sale'.

Enough with your fancy logic and common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564162)

Begone foul spirit! Away with you!

!sales (1, Insightful)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563148)

Of course none of those sales are really sales - they're just rentals: no lending, no resales, no giving them to a friend or leaving them on a train for strangers (never mind still being capable of being deleted by Amazon as they see fit).

At least they're cheaper than buying a real book though. Oh wait.

Re:!sales (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563176)

You can simulate all those things on a Kindle by deleting the e-book.

Seriously, loaning a book to a friend? Wave goodbye to that one.

Re:!sales (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563346)

>You can simulate all those things on a Kindle by deleting the e-book.

What are you talking about? A Kindle ebook is tied to the account for which you can only have 6 users who then share everything - ideal for a family - not so ideal if you're looking to lend a book to a friend. Deleting the book on your Kindle in no way simulates selling the book: the prospective buyer can't read it unless they're using the same account; same with giving the book away: you can't. So how exactly does deleting the book on your Kindle simulate anything?

Re:!sales (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563576)

*WOOOOSH*

You never get books back from your friends. Deleting the book has the same personal effect as lending it.

Re:!sales (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564236)

With friends like those, who needs enemies? Ok, that might be a stretch, but my friends and I all share books and we actually give them back, either when we are done with them or when they are asked for, so I have no problem seeing the difference between loaning books and deleting books on the Kindle.

Re:!sales (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563300)

At least they're cheaper than buying a real book though. Oh wait.

I see the book my wife gave me for Christmas is cheaper as an ebook: $9.99 [amazon.com] vs $15.47 [amazon.com] . $9.99 doesn't seem like a bad price out of hand, although $6.99 or $0.01 would be even better :)

Now, I realize that's a sample size of one. I'd be interested from Kindle readers whether the books you actually buy tend to be cheaper than the hardcopies?

Re:!sales (1)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563516)

Kindle books are almost always cheaper than the new print equivalent (used print books are cheaper).

There are many good books available on Kindle offered for free on a promotional basis. Usually these books are the first in a series. I grabbed a copy of Manifold: Time for free during a promotion and ended up buying the other two books in the series, Manifold: Space and Manifold: Origin for $6.99 each.

There are also sample chapters available for most books so you can read the book before deciding to purchase or not.

Re:!sales (1)

mattmarlowe (694498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563540)

As another kindle user, yes, ebooks tend to be cheaper and it certainly saves $$ never to be paying full hardback pricing ever again. Honestly, I've stopped buying any physical books at all. Everything goes to Kindle, and unless I really want a particular book, I never pay more than $15 for one (non-technical books) and most of the time pricing is in the $6.99 - $9.99 range.

Honestly, the biggest problem I've had is that while most of the books that I want are available in kindle edition, not all are. Also, I've had some issues finding certain o'reilly titles in kindle version. I'm guessing they took awhile to ramp up kindle support, prefering readers to use safari.com or buy online from oreilly.com. Neither is really an option for me. I want the ability for Amazon to manage my library and to download/redownload my books to whatever kindle I am using (I also hate the idea of paying safari to rent access to books)...I can take small kindle to gym and read while on treadmill, and then use larger kindle at work for the same book (and I dont have to find where I left off, amazon syncs that for me along with any notes/bookmarks/etc). However, this only works if book was purchased from amazon.

I'm honestly fine with all the DRM/etc limitations of Kindle. I'll trade off any functionality loss for the lower purchase price. And, rather than having to search several bookcases at home for book I want later on, I can quickly search my kindle library for whatever I need.

Re:!sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30563662)

Sony eReader books are similarly priced... $9.99 for ebooks that are also in hardback. You can also find plenty of "free" books from your local torrent site.

Re:!sales (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564028)

That must have been the hardcover edition of the ebook!

Re:!sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30567170)

Occasionally you'll see a new paperback book for less then the kindle price. In these situations what has usually happend is that the kindle version is priced against the hardback, and the paperback just came out. If you wait a bit (about a month, two at most), the price of the kindle version drops to be the same or lower then the paperback.

Re:!sales (3, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563488)

"or leaving them on a train for strangers"

Of course you can. You just leave your Kindle behind.

Re:!sales (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566510)

Just download the PDF file from the Web or P2P after you paid. Then you have the best of both worlds: Peace of mind and a book that nobody can take away from you.

Misleading.... (3, Informative)

KronosReaver (932860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563170)

Just like iTunes, Amazon generates a zero dollar sales receipt when you download a free Ebook from them. And there are plenty of those to be found, mostly the first book in a series... "Hey Kid, The first ones FREE." - but we will be counting it as a "Sale".

Nota Bene (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563278)

TFA says that Amazon sold more ebooks than physical books "[o]n Christmas Day" only. Which makes sense, considering everyone is flush with gift certificates and Exmas morning s probably the slowest mail-order purchase day of the year.

Kindle, Schmindle... (1)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563286)

Why does the summary of this article, along with most articles on e-books, mention Kindles as if they're the only e-book reader out there? Are they really that prevalent? Personally, I love the concept of e-books but don't like the way Kindle is designed. So I have a Sony Reader that I'm very satisfied with. More publicity for the Readers, I say!

Where is the catch? (3, Interesting)

giladpn (1657217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563320)

Lets all look around us; people who read books have not moved en-masse to e-books. So how come Amazon is announcing sales of e-books have surpassed regular books?

There is a trendiness effect. People who usually do NOT read books may still buy an e-book reader for someone else... esepcially on official toy-giving day a.k.a xmas.

Sure, eventually e-book readers make sense and will replace paper. I'm just saying that day is not now.

In fact, by the time e-book readers replace paper, they may look like paper themselves. There is a tech trend towards computers that are as thin as a sheet of paper...

Personally I like paper, so I will buy an e-book when it catches up and becomes as thin as paper. Not long to wait - a year or three.

Re:Where is the catch? (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563664)

Depends where you are, and the type of reader crowd you are talking about.

I've been in cafes where the ratio of Kindle to print readers was easily 2:1, and probably higher. If you travel a lot on business, the numbers are clearly through the roof on flights. That makes sense -- lugging books on business trips is just lousy.

What Amazon has said repeatedly is among the demographic that tends to buy a lot of books, the Kindle is taking over. Its telling when they can release numbers showing that 1/3 of their sales of books where electronic copies are available are electronic.

Nothing in the article suggests its replacing paper now, they're just saying for the first time they sold more ebooks than real books on a day, regardless of the reason. Thats still a significant step.

Re:Where is the catch? (1)

davidn (155529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30568190)

Wow, I have seen exactly one Kindle and I rountinely fly to and from SJC.

Re:Where is the catch? (2, Insightful)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563724)

"becomes as thin as paper"

My PRS 505 is way thinner than a 500page book.

Not Surprising (2, Insightful)

Rehnberg (1618505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563356)

Actually, I'm not surprised. A lot of people would be getting Kindles on Christmas, and would need to fill them, whereas I'm not sure how many people need to order books ON Christmas, since that's when the books would be given.

Kindle Prices ... (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563644)

I got an Amazon gift certificate for Christmas, because Amazon has no mechanism to gift Kindle books (which is strangely shortsighted, but not the topic on hand...)

I did buy one book with it, but three other books I was going to buy the kindle copies were substantially more than the print copies (in one case, more than double the cost -- $19.97 versus something in the $8 range for a *hardcover*!)

I'm not sure if others have noticed, but lately Kindle books have been trending upwards in price, and its pretty common now that paperback editions are less than the Kindle copies, whereas six months ago they tended to be cheaper, if only by a nickel or something...)

I don't know if prices jumped on Christmas because they expected this, and will come back down, or if these higher prices I noticed on that day will persist into the new year. I'm not sure what Amazon is thinking -- gaming prices is a bad idea when you start getting competition that people actually are talking about.

Re:Kindle Prices ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30564096)

I'm not sure if others have noticed, but lately Kindle books have been trending upwards in price, and its pretty common now that paperback editions are less than the Kindle copies, whereas six months ago they tended to be cheaper, if only by a nickel or something...)

No I hadn't noticed. Since you mentioned it I looked at a dozen or two of the Amazon bestsellers, and a bunch of other random books, and couldn't find a single one where the Kindle price was more than the paperback price, if the paperback is currently out. (I found one book where the list Kindle price is higher, for a paperback due in Feb 2010, but when the paperback comes out I'm sure the Kindle price will drop as well). Pretty common? How about some links to these examples, I can't find any?

Re:Kindle Prices ... (2, Informative)

Roogna (9643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567284)

While the sales have apparently ended, most of December the -hardbound- of Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel at either Amazon or B&N was cheaper than the respective eBook versions. Granted without the sales going on the eBook is now cheaper, but one does wonder why the digital copy would -ever- be prices higher than any
other version.

Re:Kindle Prices ... (1)

greatcelerystalk (981442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30568180)

Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have a pretty good lock-in on the eBook market right now despite any potential price gaming. They're still much cheaper than the Sony Reader store for most books; Books on Board manages to offer slightly more competitive prices than Sony, but they're not as cheap as Amazon.

Amazon seems to be maintaining its competitive pricing on books, even in the eBook arena; and, other stores are either unable or unwilling to follow suit.

Price is the problem. (3, Insightful)

n0dna (939092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563690)

I got a Sony PR-505 last year and have yet to purchase a single ebook.

The DRM bothers me, but there are enough python scripts running around that will strip it out of the epub/pdf formats that it's not that much of a concern.

Price is why I don't buy them. While there are a handful of public domain books worth reading (opinion) the real content is only for sale.

I just flat-out refuse to pay 50% more for the same content in basically the same format that the publisher already has filed away somewhere. When do you think the last time that a major popular author wrote out a manuscript on a typewriter was? Or longhand? You know it's already in an electronic document format somewhere.

No printing, no binding, no shipping, no stocking, no returns. No fuel, no toxic waste from the paper making process, no toxins from the inks.

Yet I get to pay 50% more?

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563788)

what are you talking about? I've purchased 4 books for my PRS 505. 3 were $1 each, 1 was a bestseller still in hardcover for $9.99. I just did some surfing of the eReader site, and everything I saw was $9.99 or less.

I dont know about where you live, but softcovers are usually $11.99 and hardcovers are usually $30 here in CND.

Yes, the books should cost $6.99 each, but 9.99 isn't so bad.

Re:Price is the problem. (3, Interesting)

n0dna (939092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563990)

That's my point exactly.

If the physical paperback is $7, why is the ebook $10?

Yeah, it's only a couple of bucks, but if the ebooks actually cost $3 more apiece to produce, I'll eat my hat.

 

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564012)

What? the paperback is $11.99. the ebook SHOULD cost $7, but it doesn't.

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

n0dna (939092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564128)

Sorry, near me in the US, the paperbacks usually go for $7.

That makes the $10 nearly 50% more.

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566374)

That free international cellular access doesn't pay for itself, the servers dishing out the content don't pay for themselves and, as much as we don't like it (and it shouldn't be there) that DRM software doesn't pay for itself.

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567952)

Amazon shot themselves by forcing the kindle to be cell phone wireless only rather than allow 802.11x wifi as well. Servers and bandwidth - books are tiny compared to music and movies. I get 20G from my webhost for $15/month. That would host 20,000 book downloads or more. DRM - introducing their own costs again, Amazons own fault. No reason at all why ebooks couldnt be $0.5 each and still get more mony to the author than with a paper book. Making this inexpensive would also fight piracy, why waste all that time stripping DRM when the books are so cheap.

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563828)

I have never bought an e-book either. However, I did order over half a dozen books from Amazon this month, one as a gift.

Amazon's used books are the best I have found price-wise besides thrift stores, and with thrift stores you can only buy what is physically there.

Most older books can be had for a penny plus $3.99 shipping (media mail).

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565642)

What's more, you can't get ebooks secondhand or closeout. Forget 50% markup-- aside from programming manuals and the like (which usually only go closeout once they're obsolete), I get sticker-shock just looking at the MSRP of most paper books.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that for Kindle books (and others, I imagine), there is some extra work involved in reformatting them for ebook readers. I've heard gripes and annoyances from a friend of mine who had to beat a book into shape for Kindlization. While it might become a matter of course for a larger seller, for a smaller or less dedicated seller, it might be enough of an annoyance to justify a price hike.

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

trawg (308495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30566970)

I just flat-out refuse to pay 50% more for the same content in basically the same format that the publisher already has filed away somewhere. When do you think the last time that a major popular author wrote out a manuscript on a typewriter was? Or longhand? You know it's already in an electronic document format somewhere.

Neal Stephenson apparently wrote the entire Baroque Cycle by hand using a fountain pen. Old school!

For me the best solution to the ebook price debacle would be to sell ebooks at the same price as regular books, let me download the ebook instantly, and then send me the paper book in the mail. I like having the paper books around. It's like when I buy CDs - I get the CD, rip it, then throw it on the shelf never to be used again (unless I lose my mp3 collection or something).

Re:Price is the problem. (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567902)

On Amazon for the Kindle in ebook format:

1. Thousands of public domain books, for free.

2. Thousands of small publishers and indies have really taken to Kindle and priced their offerings at the $7.00 and lower, many at $0.99 to $2.99. You can download the first three chapters for free to see if you want to "risk" your money on an indie. These people have all tried to get regular publishers to take them on with no success. They realize how broken the middleman to publisher to distributor model of publishing has become. Amazon offers a much higher reward to the author (they get 35% from Amazon) so your dollars are going more to the creator and less to the distribution. Yes some of these indies are examples of bad writing, but Amazon's grading system from readers (like slashdot's scores), their ability to link you to other books like the one you were perusing, can get you to the well written books.

3. Mainstream publishers fighting ebooks to the bitter end. These are the people charging more for ebooks vs paperback. Yes I know this is where many people naturally go to find the well known authors, so I feel your pain about paying more for the ebook. This is not Amazon's fault, they don't set the pricing.

Obviously I suggest you check out indie authors.

List of Kindle books for less than $1 (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567936)

Here's the list [kindleboards.com]

It's not the Kindle (1)

qazwart (261667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30563908)

Amazon doesn't care about the Kindle. What they want are ebook sales and to sell ebooks, you need an ebook reader. So, Amazon created one.

Amazon would be thrilled if Apple came out with their own ebook reader and it drove Kindle sales down the drain as long as all those new Apple ebook readers got their books from Amazon. And guess which retailer will make a mint selling that Apple ebook reader? (Hint, their name begins with "A and ends with "N").

Ebooks for Amazon means no warehousing, no stocking, no shipping, and no returns. You can store an entire warehouse full of books on a few hard drives.

Don't get me wrong. Amazon is thrilled that people are buying Kindles, but only because it means they'll be loading it up with books from Amazon.

Re:It's not the Kindle (2, Interesting)

nightgeometry (661444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565372)

This is pretty much obviously not true. If it were then they would sell ebooks in a format that any other reader could use (pretty much ePub, at this point).

They don't, they use a proprietary format that no one else is able to use. Thus I assume that they are not *just* after selling electronic copies of books.

I don't remember the exact time line that the Kindle was released. I think that Sony hadn't yet started to move to ePub, and nor had many others. In which case they should have stuck to ereader or mobipocket. They even own one of those (I always forget which),

I've been buying eBooks for 10 years now. (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564268)

I've been looking through my collection of eBooks, all but one non-DRMed Mobipocket or PalmDoc format, and the first ones I got were in January of 2000, right after I bought my first PDA. For me, eBooks were the "killer product" for a PDA.

Near as I can tell the big reason these things haven't taken off are:

1. The format wars. We need an "MP3 of eBooks". Mobipocket format is pretty common, and it's good enough.

2. The price. People aren't going to pay higher-than-paperback prices for an electronic book. They know how cheap electronic distribution is, that needs to be part of the deal.

Of course... (1)

Memroid (898199) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564382)

It's all in the wording: "More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books", "sold more ebooks on one day than real books".

They aren't saying that people would suddenly rather buy/receive ebooks than regular books for christmas, they are saying that ebooks are an option for last-minute shoppers on christmas day. Basically ebooks are an alternative to buying gift cards, due to their instant delivery.

Re:Of course... (1)

QuestorTapes (663783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30567066)

I expect you're right. I (and a number of people I know), purchased Amazon Gift cards at the 11th hour.

Convenience and rapid availability would apply very well to any dowloadable media.

Re:Of course... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30568584)

It's all in the wording: "More Ebooks On Christmas Than Real Books", "sold more ebooks on one day than real books".

They aren't saying that people would suddenly rather buy/receive ebooks than regular books for christmas, they are saying that ebooks are an option for last-minute shoppers on christmas day. Basically ebooks are an alternative to buying gift cards, due to their instant delivery.

For last minute gifts, yes.

But... given few stores are open on Christmas, is it any wonder that these services have a bump on Christmas? Especially if you got a gift card - if you want to spend it right after getting it, the only stores open are online ones. And the only ones that can get you the goods NOW are ones offering downloadable content.

Sure you can wait a day, but man, who wants to wait a day? And with Amazon, you can choose between getting it now, or in a week after the holidays.

consider this (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564446)

And with everyone pretty much having to buy their college textbooks for next semester in paper form, that's pretty unusual. I would think that's a huge portion of the sales. Factor that out and it's probably an even bigger digital to paper ratio for just novels and stuff.

Not really surprising. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564744)

Why would many people be hopping on the web to order stuff on Xmas? They're playing with their new toys. A lot of those toys will be Kindles. And a lot of the people firing up their Kindles for the first time will want to get some books on there.

What kills me is the fact that Amazon is still charging TEN DOLLARS PER TITLE for most books. And people are PAYING it! It's pure, unadulterated bullshit. There's no reason (other than greed) for the price of ebooks to be so high. Absolutely none. They should be cheaper than paperbacks. There's very little production cost and, once it's produced, reproduction is virtually free (the cost of the electricity used and wear-and-tear on equipment during the fraction of a second it takes to copy the data). Distribution is pennies per title all the way to the consumer. There's no physical TONS of paper being trucked across the continent, shipped across oceans, etc. There are no glitches in production schedules that leave warehouses of unsold books in Albuquerque while New York has none.

It's waste-free with instant fulfillment. Yet they're charging MORE for this method of delivery than they charge for a paperback.

It's stupid and I refuse to participate in the gouging. I buy the paperbacks then download a pirated electronic version. I use the ethical logic that I've paid for my content in printed form. I'm not downloading an audio version or the movie, both of which are entirely different productions and presentations. I'm downloading text presented the same as a printed book. So the publishers and authors get paid, I don't get gouged, I get a DRM-free ebook, and I have a backup (the printed book).

If ebooks were properly priced at 25-30% of the cost of a paperback (leaving a ton of room for profit!), I'd just buy them directly and strip out the DRM myself. Then they wouldn't need to mess around moving all that paper around.

Re:Not really surprising. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30565048)

While i agree it should not be more expensive to get the e-book format, your rationale is possibly based on a false assumption; You assume that a books cost is $X because of the cost of shipping paper, printing presses, ink, etc. However, the actual physical costs associated could be pennies on the dollar of the retail cost (just like creating a CD is only pennies), while the lion's share actually goes for publishing percentage, editor fees, and the like.

It still doesn't make sense, unless of course the legalese of the e-book distribution agreements assume piracy and thus mark up the price to cover "unforeseen expenses."

 

Re:Not really surprising. (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565388)

Delivery costs for any book delivered from an online retailer are at least 10 pounds in the UK by courier for delivery within a wekk. Even more if you want next day delivery. Books from the local bookstore are about the same as the online retailer - though this depends on the location. I found that ordering books from the campus bookstore was more expensive that the downtown store, along with writing pads and pens. Both have to pay for commercial leases, but you have to handle the delivery to your home yourself, either by paying a public transport fare or driving your car.

Re:Not really surprising. (1)

nightgeometry (661444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30565468)

Amazon are actually losing money on most of their $9.99 books (at least for the ones that are selling at the same time as hardbacks). They get them at the same price as the hardback, which is around $12.

I think Amazon are doing some bad things at the moment, but they are not driving the price up, they are making a loss to drive it down.

I bought over 20 books (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30564966)

for various people for presents and not one of them was an Ebook, or from Amazon for that matter.
B&N and the local book store were the benificiaries of my business this year. I recently had a return item fiasco with Amazon...I sent the item insured and registered, they received it, and signed for it then claimed it never arrived.

Amazon gift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30565850)

I got an Amazon gift certificate for Christmas, because Amazon has no mechanism to gift Kindle books

http://www.dizi.info.tr

fix for the pricing problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30567956)

Buy the (cheapest available) physical copy of the book. Download the pirated version of the e-book.

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