Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Michael Lewis Loves the Kindle. But Not This Week.

“The coolest thing, by far, is that you think of a book you’d like to read, someone tells you about a book you’d like to read, and in 30 seconds, it’s on your screen, all of it.”

That’s author Michael Lewis, talking about the wonders of the Kindle in a 2007 promotional video for Amazon. Alas, what Lewis said then is not true about his new book.

“The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” has earned great reviews and a big PR push in advance of its release this week. But it’s MIA on Amazon’s e-book store (and Barnes & Noble’s e-book store, as well).

I don’t know if publisher W. W. Norton is intentionally holding the book back from digital distribution because it doesn’t want to avoid cutting into hardcover sales. But if it that’s the case, “The Big Short” wouldn’t be the first book to be “windowed.”

That practice is supposed to end with the new “agency” model that Apple (AAPL) and some big publishers are using with the iPad–and that Amazon has reluctantly agreed to. The downside of the new model for consumers is that prices for newly released e-books will be higher than the $9.99 Amazon has been pushing.

Other Lewis titles–from Norton and other publishers–are available for the Kindle. I’ve asked both Amazon (AMZN) and W. W. Norton for comment.

Here’s Lewis in that 2007 video blurb he filmed for Amazon (thanks to Jay Yarow for spotting). And as an aside: Look at how remarkably fugly that first version of the Kindle was! And think about how much more elegant the device became, very quickly. Worth remembering as you start handicapping Amazon’s chances of competing with the iPad–Jeff Bezos and company are certain to keep improving at a fast clip.


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