The Randomness Of eBooks
It’s hot in King’s Cross, Central London, where August has accidentally replaced February, and I’m sitting on my terrace with a book, having a late lunch. Idly I decide to download it, but no luck; Kindle does not have it. So I go in and flick through my library shelves looking for what Kindle does have, and I start to realise that either my tastes are astoundingly outré or the eBook policy is still as random as a throw of a dice at the moment.
So, no Ray Bradbury, no JG Ballard, no Evelyn Waugh (except ‘Brideshead Revisited’), no David Pownall, Agatha Christie short stories being sold for a quid apiece, then random costings that range from everything Dickens ever wrote for one pound to overpriced copies of long out-of-print books being flogged individually. I thought I might add my beloved Edmund Crispins to my Kindle, but each slim volume (there are eleven) of these sixty year-old books is a fiver. And Peake’s ‘Titus Groan’ is more expensive than ‘Gormenghast’ – why?
But an astonishing range of books by the wonderful David Nobbs – hats off to Harper Collins here for getting all of their backlist online so promptly – but then only ONE Keith Waterhouse book. Ronding out that particular trilogy of great Northern comic writers, we have a total no show for Peter Tinniswood. Luckily, I have all of his paperbacks. As for Michael Frayn, everything is available but at a higher price.
Everything recent, no matter how unreadably bad it is, is available. But go back a little to the recently-loved great writers and availability fragments into completely random pricing or non-existence. It seems we are still in the Wild West as far as ebooks go.