Thursday, May 19, 2011


Always the last to know.

From to time to time people ask whether The Last Samurai is available as an e-book, to which I reply, Not to my knowledge, jinsai. (Roughly.)

I've just been checking out to see whether they have relented and agreed to stock new copies of the book.  (They have not stocked it for the last 5 years or so.  It is in fact available, new, from the Random House website, but the average punter has better things to do than scour publishers' websites on the off-chance that a more expensive version of the book might be available.)

To the best of my knowledge, the physical book can still not be bought new off -- but it turns out there is a Kindle edition. Available only in the UK. I can't buy it from Germany. If you're reading this in the US or Canada, my guess is you can't buy it there. If you happen to live in the UK, you lucky devil, you can in fact get an e-version of the book.  I THINK.

The link is here.

When I view this page, I am told that pricing information is not available, and that Kindle titles cannot be sold to residents of my country off  I surmise that a resident of the UK would have better luck.  It's entirely possible, though, that a UK Kindle version does exist but cannot actually be bought.  (UK resident readers of pp can check out the link and report back, if so inclined.)

[Since you ask, no, no Kindle version is offered on Bastards. BASTARDS.]

[Update: a commenter has checked out and says the Kindle edition is indeed available for £7.99, or rather WILL be available from May 31. 

American readers who own a Kindle and would like to have The Last Samurai on the device would appear to have two options:

1. Mail the Kindle to someone in the UK and get them to buy the e-version and send it back.

2. Buy a cheap flight to the UK; fly to the UK, taking care not to leave the Kindle behind; personally buy the e-version; return in triumph to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. A bit pricey to the untutored eye, but offers the opportunity for Samurai-themed London tourism: you can ride the Circle Line around and around and around, buy a chicken meal at Iowa Fried Chicken, see Ulysses Mocking Polyphemus at the National Gallery . . .  You could go to Grant & Cutler!  Anyone rash enough to go to Grant & Cutler would probably, it has to be said, wipe out the modest gain in portability achieved by installing Samurai on a Kindle: here is a whole bookstore crammed to the rafters with foreign language books, books almost certainly NOT available on Kindle -- if you have not taken the precaution of bringing an empty suitcase you will find yourself giving most of your clothes to Oxfam. 

2. is clearly the option likeliest to make your life more interesting, though perhaps not the best choice if credit card debt is a source of concern.]


Bill said...

Hi Helen,

Yes it appears available, £7.99 for the Kindle version, £30.00 for a new hardcover edition.

Bill said...

Sorry I look a little more closely, it says Kindle edition available from May 31 and the publisher is Vintage Digital.

Helen DeWitt said...

Thanks - that's tremendously helpful. (Who knows, if there is a mad rush for Kindle editions maybe they will relent and stock the humble pb as a goodwill gesture.)

Balaustion said...

I just clicked the American "I'd like to read this book on my Kindle" link. My (limited) experience is that once it's made available in the UK it doesn't take long to get to the US. So my fingers are crossed.

Jasper Milvain said...

I wouldn't want to put anyone off Samurai-themed adventures, but riding around and around the Circle line is sadly no longer possible.

Helen DeWitt said...

JM - No! No! Say it ain't so! (As I say, always the last to know.)

Anonymous said...

Um... I'd never visited Grant and Cutler, and just this moment excitedly googled them to plan a trip, only to find that they were absorbed by Foyles two months ago. Another sad blow to TLS tourism. (There are still lots of off-brand fried chicken shops though). -Steve

Helen DeWitt said...

Nooooooooo. Nooooooooo.

Are they now physically -- OK, have looked online, they HAVE now moved to Foyle's. They used to have a huge inventory, I don't see how it can all be accommodated at Foyle's, but I guess I'll have to check it out next time I'm in London.

Next you'll be telling me Iowa Fried Chicken has been taken over by KFC.