Imagine that you wanted to give me $10 for reading this blog post. You saw it, you liked it, and you thought, “Hey, I want to hit that Eddie guy’s tip jar for $10.” Good for me, right? Now imagine if, upon seeing your $10 in my PayPal account, I refunded your money with the message, “Sorry, I only accept gifts from readers in the UK.”
But that’s pretty much what the publishing industry is doing by restricting their titles based on a prospective buyer’s geographical location.
I recently tried to purchase a particular eBook & went to the Amazon website, only to find that while a Kindle version did exist, it was only available to U.K. purchasers. I live in the U.S., so I was out of luck. Or so I thought.
I found out that buying the book was as simple as changing my US address to a UK address on the Kindle management page. Since nothing is ever mailed to the address listed there, you don’t have to worry about them sending anything to the address that you pick.
A word of caution, though: while researching the topic, I learned that some people have had their Amazon account suspended for changing their address too often. Which got me to thinking, why is Amazon making it so difficult for me to give them money? After all, here I was, begging them to let me fork over $10 or so for a copy of a book that it would cost them nothing to produce. And they wouldn’t take my money simply because of where my two feet happened to be contacting the Planet Earth at the time. It sure is hard to be a customer these days, isn’t it? :)
I’m sure that the reasons come down to a lot of complicated contract issues between the author and the publisher. The author of the book likely only granted his publisher UK distribution rights, and the author either hasn’t yet assigned the US rights or the assignee has chosen to do sit on them. Amazon is just doing what they can to honor the contracts that these parties have in place, so they’re not at fault. On the contrary, what they’ve accomplished is astonishing. As of July 2010, Amazon is now selling more eBooks than it is print books.
The publishing industry needs to catch up with the year 2010. Yes, I know that they like to have their theatres of operation and their fancy contractual assignments and whatnot, but at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was pay someone $10 for the privilege of legally reading their book on my Kindle. Would they have preferred that I instead checked it out from the library for free? Or simply, ahem, “acquired” a free copy of the eBook? (‘Cuz I could have.)