Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kindle Goes International - Sorta

Talk about a news item which gets your hopes up, and then cruelly dashes them a moment later.

Amazon announced yesterday that its Kindle e-book reader would now be available in an international edition, the price has also been dropped to (US$259) and it would ship to 100 countries.

Sadly, Malaysia is not one of them (neither are Canada, New Zealand, and the countries in this region).

I got a bit humphy I'm afraid, especially as I was watching all the excited booklovers jumping up and down for joy on Twitter, where this quickly became a trending topic. I felt left out. I felt hurt and neglected. I came face to face with the realisation of how much I want this bloody device!

I shot off an email to Amazon to ask why we weren't included, wondering whether it was (as Eyeris and Umapagan had tweeted back to me, because Malaysians don't read enough!) or was it an issue with licensing.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got a reply an hour or so later from Amazon spokesperson Cinthia Portugal herself, telling me :
We want to ship Kindle everywhere and we’re working hard on it, but at this time we are not able to ship to Malaysia. ... This is an audacious first step, and we will continue to innovate on behalf of our customers and expand our offerings – we know that there will be other steps, but we’re happy with where we are starting and we think our customers will be too.
So hopefully, we will be there somewhere in the expansion plans. I thought it was interesting too that Amazon seems to be doing a better job with its corporate communications than it did when the Homozone.com scandal came to light.

By the way, it seems there is a workaround solution for those desperate enough : one Singaporean customer at Amazon.com notes:
the wireless doesnt work outside of the USA - you can still buy books using your amazon account online and then download them to your PC and upload them via a cable to your kindle- not exactly instantaneous - but much easier (and cheaper) than slugging it down to orchard to Kino or Borders! Kindle rocks.

12 comments:

Chet said...

I used to be able to buy any book from the eReader website. Recently, however, I've encountered "geographic rights restrictions" when trying to purchase books from authors I'd previously purchased before from the same site. I wrote to the site about it and received this reply:

"We have recently had to implement geographic restrictions for certain eBooks. These new restrictions are being imposed on all eBook retailers by certain publishers because of contracts they have in place, and we must abide by these new geographic restrictions for legal reasons. Past purchases are not affected."

I suspect the popularity of Kindle got publishers to look at the epublishing rights of their books, resulting in this "geographical rights restrictions".

The older books are not affected but the more recent ones are.

I can't complete my set of Mrs Murphy mysteries. :(

Naoko said...

To chet: That actually explains quite a lot. I had a number of friends who told me that they couldn't buy e-books anymore due to such restrictions, which sorts of defeat the purposes of such e-books.

Sigh, I hate living in Malaysia sometimes.

Sharon: thanks for letting us know.

Ms Ulat Buku said...

What??? Its not available in Malaysia? I was so looking forward to it when I heard they were releasing Kindle internationally. That's so sad.

Chet said...

@Naoko - well, they can still buy ebooks, but just not the recent ones. The reply from Fictionwise (eReader's owner) said the rights info are right there on the info page for each page. Of course, I didn't bother reading all that stuff on the page and just hit the "Add to Cart" button!

I personally think epublishing rights should not be included in a traditional publishing contract, unless that publisher will be publishing ebook versions of whatever book it is. An author, especially the younger more tech-savvy ones, might want to publish their own ebooks, and would not be able to do so because the rights are with their publishers who have no plans to publish eversions on their behalf.

It's very easy for authors to format and publish their own ebooks these days - both Kindle and eReader have instructions and / or epublishing kits.

Sorry for rambling.

bibliobibuli said...

i hate the thought of us being a backwater esp in this age of connectedness *sigh*

Chet said...

If it's any consolation, Canada is also not on the list.

GeneGirl said...

I am sad for the Malaysians...so silly la....
A quick question, do you know anyone who has been using it?

bibliobibuli said...

yes, have actually *gasp* held one and had to have it pried out of my hands. shan't name the friend 9but he can out himself) has found a clever way to get download books from mazon for it. there are workrounds ...

GeneGirl said...

I know this may lead to an outrage of remarks, but I can get access to it in Germany.... and am very close to getting myself one and at the same time battling with the 'am I ready to leap in this direction' battle... But just being able to carry a gazzillion books on travels with no worries at all....oooohhhhh

Ted Mahsun said...

*jumps in*

GO PAPER!

*runs out*

donny said...

@chet The geo restrictions apply for audiobooks as well, and it's generally a terrible, terrible thing, this limitation.

@Sharon: If you go to the site (http://bit.ly/Vs0hr), you'll find a drop down list that tells you whether a country is included or not. The countries that are included makes me shake my head in dismay.

Chet said...

If we can't purchase an ebook because of geographical rights restrictions, how come American or British editions of a particular book (e.g., Toni Morrison's A Mercy) are available outside of the States and Britain? Aren't the printed versions similarly restricted?