Wednesday morning’s latest promotional freebie in the Kindle Store seems at first like a bit of an outlier. It’s a Penguin Classic, The Minister’s Wooing, first published over 150 years ago by one of the bestselling American authors of all time, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and described thus on its Kindle page.
From the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a domestic comedy that examines slavery, Protestant theology, and gender differences in early America. First published in 1859, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s third novel is set in eighteenth-century Newport, Rhode Island, a community known for its engagement in both religious piety and the slave trade. Mary Scudder lives in a modest farmhouse with her widowed mother an their boarder, Samuel Hopkins, a famous Calvinist theologian who preaches against slavery. Mary is in love with the passionate James Marvyn, but Mary is devout and James is a skeptic, and Mary’s mother opposes the union. James goes to sea, and when he is reportedly drowned, Mary is persuaded to become engaged to Dr. Hopkins.With colorful characters, including many based on real figures, and a plot that hinges on romance, The Minister’s Wooing combines comedy with regional history to show the convergence of daily life, slavery, and religion in post-Revolutionary New England.
So, it may not outsell the latest teen vampire novel, but it looks like it may be an interesting read and the price is right. My interest is also piqued by the fact that it turns up free in the Kindle Store during (or after?) a period of apparently difficult terms negotiations between Amazon and Penguin’s owner Pearson PLC. I’m not certain of this, but this ebook version The Minister’s Wooing appears to be a relatively new addition to the Kindle Store, and has only been made a free lsting in the past few hours. It is also available free at The Internet Archive, but shows a digital list price of $16 and a quick check of Inkmesh shows its listings at several other ebook retailers (Powells, Kobo, Cooler, Cyberread and eBooks.com) priced in a range from $12.80 to $16. It is also free at the Barnes & Noble eReader Store, but unavailable at Apple’s iBooks Store.
Interestingly, Stowe’s most famous book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is free at Amazon and several other commercial and free ebook venues, but the only version available at the iBooks Store is Simon & Schuster’s $5.99 listing.
No reason to make anything of any of this, but it leaves me wondering … if a favorable resolution with Penguin’s owners might lead to a large increase in nicely priced Penguin Classics backlist titles in the Kindle Store … and if an element of Apple’s agency model price-fixing arrangement might involve keeping some free public domain books out of the iBooks Store in cases where a commercial publisher has a more expensive alternative.
- “Free” in the Kindle Store refers, for now, to the price for download to US-based Kindles. Amazon adds charges for Kindles based beyond US borders.
- Originally posted to Kindle Nation Daily 4.28.2010.
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Here are our other updated free promotional listings in the Kindle Store as of April 28: