Saturday, March 26, 2011

The problem with eBooks



I've been reading eBooks ever since the palm pilot days. Whatever one can say about the disadvantage of reading from a 160x160 pixel screen, we can't deny the advantage of having a library of books at your beckon and call in a small device.

Fast forward to the present and many of the obstacles for reading ebooks are being resolved, judging from the sales of eBooks in recent years.

Hardware to read eBooks are also not longer an issue as a reader can now choose to read on any device to their liking, whether it be a laptop, an iPad or a dedicated eBook device like the Kindle. The only decision a consumer have to make now is the choice of the book store, Amazon, B&N, iBooks.

So what's the problem? Simply put, one still can't buy a book outside the US. In this age of globalisation, it is unthinkable that book publishing industry still has no solution for the sale and distribution of what essentially are just packets of data. There are similarities to the music and movie business. As this post is about eBook, I won't digress there.

In my case, my Amazon account refuses to sell me any ebooks for the Kindle app in my iPad. This is probably because it has detected my Singapore address or that my credit card is not issued by a US Bank. Ironically, I am able still able buy the same paperback book from Amazon but have a pay almost as much as the book's cost to ship the book half way around the world to Singapore.

Technology with the eBook has made the book publishing more efficient, and it frustrating to see it crippled by the outdated publishing rights and legality. The industry has to catch up, and a solution is required immediately.

Of course, there are ways to circumvent this barrier. I can buy an prepaid Amazon gift voucher, remove my payment information, and use the voucher for Kindle eBooks. Similarly, the same solution can be applied to the iBooks store with the purchase of the prepaid Apple Gift Voucher and a US Apple ID without payment details.

But that's not the point. A consumer shouldn't be jumping hoops for the failure of the book publishing industry.

Incidentally, I've been receiving emails from Amazon regularly trying to sell me a Kindle. I bet it would not shipped outside the US, so why bother?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazon will ship you a Kindle anywhere in the world. It even has 3G coverage in Singapore.

Kindle books are licensed by Amazon for sale in specific countries, which means the rules for selling it in Singapore are different than in the US.

Unfortunately for you, Amazon has to comply with these rules. The difference with physical books is that US law explicitly differs there.