Since I’ve become a virtual evangelist for eBooks, whenever I’m seen reading a book printed on actual paper, people act shocked. “Why are you reading that?” they say. “Don’t you have a Kindle? Aren’t you against paper now? Don’t you hate trees, Blake? Don’t you?”
And the simple answer is the true one: not every book is available as an eBook yet. Some publishers haven’t embraced the technology, some books are tied up in rights issues, and some writers simply don’t like it. Eventually, I think, everything new that gets published will have an eBook edition, and eventually everything anybody remembers that has already been published will be available that way, although may not happen until the individual rights holders have been dead long enough for the books to lapse into public domain.
Here are a few books that aren’t available as eBooks (yet) that I wish I could get on my Kindle.
1. The Harry Potter series. Amazingly, one of the best-selling series of books in the history of language has not been made available yet as an eBook, reportedly under the instruction of one J.K. Rowling herself. I can understand loving paper books, as I’ve said before, but refusing to make the books available seems silly to me. Fans who want replacement copies of their books would like it — in fact, I think it’s safe to say that most diehard fans who own an eReader would get the entire series in short order, whether their books are still in readable condition or not. Potential new readers are growing up every day, buy more and more we’re learning the younger generation prefers their content digitally. Not making the books available in this format is an obstacle to gaining new readers. Look, it’s not like Rowling needs the money or anything, but releasing these books electronically would basically be a license to print cash for her and Scholastic Publishing. I’m really surprised these haven’t made it to the eReader market yet.
2. George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. If you know Martin but haven’t heard of Wild Cards it’s probably because of his fantasy series, A Song of Fire and Ice, the first book of which inspired the HBO hit series A Game of Thrones. Wild Cards is a very different series, a set of “mosaic novels” tracing the alternate history of a universe where an alien virus struck Earth in the years shortly after World War II, creating a class of mutated individuals and superpowered would-be heroes. The books I’ve read are great, but the middle books in the series (which is in the teens now) are notoriously difficult to find, so I’ve never read the whole thing. If you go to Amazon’s Kindle store, you’ll find that the newer books (and an upcoming book) are available, as is book one. And five. And seven! So where are two, three, four, six… you get the picture. The only reason I can think of for such a sporadic release of the volumes is because Martin isn’t the sole writer of the series. The way these “mosaic novels” work, several writers each compose a story about their own character, usually surrounding one central theme or event that they all share, and the editor (Martin) pieces their segments together into a single narrative. It’s a lot of fun, but if any of the writers in an individual volume (which began in the 80s, long before eBooks) doesn’t want to issue the rights to releasing an eBook, that would stop the whole book from being available. Lunacy.
3. E.E. “Doc” Edwards’ Lensmen series. Here’s a case of “I’ve never read it but I wanna.” Edwards’ classic sci-fi saga, Lensmen, has often been cited as being the inspiration for the Green Lantern Corps. As Green Lantern is one of my favorite comics, I very much would like to read this series. At the moment, though, only the first book in the series Triplanetary, is currently available as an eBook. And I’m pretty sure the only reason that is available is because of the vagaries of magazine copyright law in the 1930s. Triplanetary is now public domain, the rest of the series is not. And as Triplanetary originally wasn’t even part of the series (Edwards apparently did some fancy rewriting after Lensmen became popular to make it function as a prequel), I’m not even that excited to read it if I can’t find the others.
So those are my current requests for books that should be available for my Kindle. Any other suggestions?