The online world is global, right?

January 25, 2012

Another post on the inequities of Kindle books available on Amazon…

One of the list members of a tech writer discussion list I’m on, notified the group that The Yahoo! Style Guide: Writing for an Online Audience is only $1.99 in Kindle edition on Amazon. Nice.

Kindle is all about digital distribution of books, the book’s subject is to do with writing for an online audience, and the price was sweet.

So I click the link and prepare to part with $1.99 for this Kindle edition. After all, the online world can be anywhere, can’t it? It’s global, right?

Not so.

I’m confronted — yet again — with the ‘You live in Australia. You are not worthy.’ message that’s implied by the ‘Pricing information not available’ and a ‘This title is not available to customers from Australia’ message.

Guess that’s ANOTHER title I won’t be buying from Amazon, because of some stupid publishing restrictions on sale to countries outside the US. It’s a digital book, for heaven’s sake, written for a digital audience, but it’s not available to all online citizens of the world. Amazon happily sells its Kindles in Australia and makes available its Kindle reader to PCs and smartphones, but then restricts the titles we can purchase. There’s something wrong with that.

(Interestingly, Amazon had no qualms about selling me the paperback of this book for $14.95. Add in about $10 postage, and now the cost of the book for me is close to $25, which is a far cry for the $2 Kindle edition. Why does selling me the paperback version not violate the publisher agreements, whereas selling me the Kindle edition does? In neither case are Australian booksellers or publishers getting any money. I also checked on Fishpond and I can buy it from there for around $25 with free shipping and it ‘Ships within 24 hours from UK supplier’ even though this is a US book. Crazy. Of course, I can only buy a Kindle edition from Amazon–and Amazon won’t sell it to me.)

See also:

[Links last checked January 2012]


  1. It’s not Amazon – or Kindle – it’s the publisher of the book!

  2. Whenever I whinge about this issue from the Denmark perspective, I forget that critical point you make here, Rhonda. Why is it so difficult to get the digital version when I can get the paper version so easily? They don’t want to keep the content from me then. Ah, they just want more money. Gee, what a surprise.

  3. Hi ppl0315

    You’re right — it’s not Amazon or Kindle; Amazon is likely just enforcing the stranglehold that is the combination of the publisher and the owner of the Australian (substitute any other country) publishing rights. But it’s Amazon that the customer blames because that’s all they see.

    Having worked in libraries many years ago, I’m familiar with the restrictive relationship between publishers and those who own the publishing rights in another country. We would see books listed in US/UK/Canadian catalogs, book review magazines, library journals, etc. and want to buy them. We’d put in an order through our local bookseller only to be told some weeks later that they couldn’t get the book because the owner of the Australian rights had no intention of publishing that book here. We couldn’t get it direct from the UK/US/Canada or wherever because of the horrendous shipping costs — and because we were told we’d be breaking the law (which law?) if we did! So there were many titles we just couldn’t buy.

    What annoys me so much is that this stranglehold on what the citizens of a country can buy/read, still exists and has translated into the digital world.

    That said, it still doesn’t explain why I can buy that particular book from Amazon in a dead-tree version, but I can’t buy it electronically. I think Karen is onto something with that — they (whoever ‘they’ is — Amazon, publisher, owner of publishing rights, shipping companies?) make more money selling the dead-tree version than the digital version.

    Fortunately, this title is available for free on the Yahoo! website (http://styleguide.yahoo.com/), but that’s not so easy to navigate/use.


  4. There’s a bit of history on the Australian publishing rights situation (from the perspective of the Australian Society of Authors) on page two of this PDF: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/85320/sub070.pdf

    And a search for ‘publishing rights restrictions in australia amazon’ (no quotes) brought up this: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/03/theres-no-legal-reason-for-geo-restrictions-on-ebooks/ and many others ranting about the restrictions.


  5. No, Rhonda, the online world isn’t global. Expat Australian author, Glenda Larke has lived in Malaysia for very many years – she’s married to a Malaysian. They’ve been packing up their thousands of books and getting rid of many of them in preparation for a return to Australia in the not-too-distant future. People have been suggesting that Glenda get a Kindle but she says: “I am not permitted to use a Kindle here. But I’m afraid people in the more privileged part of the world seem to think that all things are equal on the WWW. Not so. Digital downloads are much more difficult in Asia, Many videos etc on US or UK sights cannot be viewed by Asians, for example. And we can’t download a Kindle or a Nook.”

  6. What I am annoyed about with the Kindle is that on the site they sell applications for a calendar, notepad and a couple of other things. They are only 99cents.

    But they are not sold to Australians.

    i would love the convenience of these because I bought a kindle with a proper keyboard and would find these apps useful when I am mobile.

    Not sure if it is an Amazon or Australian Govt regualtion that is holding them back.

  7. When my friend got a Kindle for her birthday, I wanted to send her some books as a present. Good thing I got two of them… since one was not available in Ireland. They gave her a gift card worth as much as the book, but it’s not the same thing. (She got another book with the gift card; as far as I know, there was no way I could get my money back, in case she didn’t want to buy something else.)

    And, of course, then ~$2.60 tax most Europeans need to pay in addition to the regular US price for any book. That’s a nice touch too.

  8. […] The online world is global, right? (cybertext.wordpress.com) […]

  9. I just discovered something odd. As you know from an email correspondance, I could order a Kindle in the Cloud from Amazon.com even though I live in Denmark. The price was higher than for people in the US.
    Well, I looked up “How to Lie with Statistics” on Amazon.co.uk just now. To my surprise, after my .com experience, I saw one book in the search list marked “This title is available to UK customers only.” I selected it and found a green(!) button with this text where the buy button is usually located:

    “Kindle titles for your country are not available at Amazon.co.uk.
    Please shop for Kindle titles at Amazon.com.”

    That makes no sense to me. We’re talking bits and bytes. How can it not be available in one country, but not the other. These barriers are artificial and plain silly.

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