Aug 162010

Are you Australian and want to read Tim Winton or John Marsden or Peter Carey using Kindle reader? Dream on.

Last night I had a friend in the US take a screenshot of the Kindle Books Store at the same time as I took a screenshot in Australia. I wanted to compare the number of items available to people in the US with the number of items available to people in Australia. I created a set of screenshots at Flickr , Kindle Store: Australia vs USA if you want to see the screenshots below more clearly.

In Australia – you have access to 129, 393 works. But look at the New Releases – 3901 in the last 60 days.

In the USA, you have access to 197, 947 works … but  6361 New Releases in the last 60 days.

This means that while Australians have access to only aboout 65% of the Kindle ebook stock available to people in the US, when you look at recently published items, that drops to about 61%.

When I logged out of, I noticed that the sidebar now let me change my country or region (at the top right hand side). I did a few comparative searches. Tim Winton – no ebooks available in Australia, 4 ebooks available from the US. Peter Carey? One ebook for Australians (The Tax Inspector) with about 10 US ebooks.

Can someone please explain to me how these restrictions on getting Australian content in Australia helps Australian writers, readers or publishers? I’m a little slow at understanding how.

My favourite, though was with Australian Young Adult writer, John Marsden. 8 results for readers in the US. If you are a teen in Australia searching for your favourite author? You get this:

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  31 Responses to “Want Australian Kindle ebook content? Don’t be Australian.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Neerav Bhatt, Renai LeMay, Warren Cheetham, Kathryn Greenhill, Jillian Blackall and others. Jillian Blackall said: RT @renailemay: RT @libsmatter New blog post: Want Australian Kindle ebook content? Don’t be Australian. […]

  2. An e-colony in this brave new world, that has such readers in it. BOOOO.
    Great post, Kathryn.

  3. I wonder when publishers will Get It.

    The more I read ebooks, the more I understand the allure of the Dark Web.

  4. Hey Kathryn, with this information in mind, is the Kindle still the best device in the Australian context? I am wanting to buy an e-book reader but am not sure what the right device is when considering formats.

  5. This is pretty much my deciding factor when it comes to e-readers! And, as somebody who is planning to travel quite a bit next year, I want something where I can buy all the books that I want to read.

    Any word on what the range in iBookstore is like?

  6. If you’re buying an ereader to use in Australia, the Kindle will definitely limit you to the titles “available” in Australia. I am not “allowed” to buy most of the titles I want to buy from Amazon. The Nook is an even worse trap: you might be able to get hold of one, but Barnes and Noble won’t sell any ebooks to Australians. Sony won’t sell to Australia, either. The Apple iBookstore in Australia so far only contains public domain books. :S

    This is the problem with a locked-in device: you’re at the whim of the retailer, and for Australians, that doesn’t work out well. So you’re better off with an ereader which accepts multiple formats (especially the open standard format ePub), and allows you to load books on it from your computer.

    Also, if you have an iPhone, Android phone or other app-running device, you can install a variety of ereading apps, and thus access ebooks from different sources. On my iPhone, I find Stanza to be invaluable: it handles multiple formats, it directly accesses my computer and several free/commercial ebook sites online, it’s easy to use and it’s free! Stanza has also recently been released for the iPad.

    On my computer, Calibre is a huge help. This is a free, cross-platform program which converts most ebook formats, transfers ebooks to devices, and catalogues your ebooks. So, if you buy an ebook in one format and want to convert it to another, Calibre will do that almost instantly. (It isn’t allowed to remove DRM: that’s another issue.) With an app. like Stanza, you can open books in your Calibre library on your computer, directly from your device, over WiFi or the Net.

    There are also two ebook search engines, AddALL and Inkmesh, which will locate ebooks for you. (Inkmesh have promised to add Borders Australia to their results.) You can search by title or author, then use the results to go straight to that site. I find this has saved me a fair bit of time, but I still often get to the (overseas) ebook store to find they won’t allow me to buy that title.

    Borders Australia is currently our best option. They’re listing more ebook titles every day and their prices can be very competitive. It’s certainly worth checking there, for the books you want.

    As you can tell from the detail in this post, I’ve been doing this for a while. I’m disabled, and can only read electronic text. So the sudden imposition of “geographic limitations” last year cut me off from most of the books I read. I’ve since been looking for alternatives, and trying to make sense out of the situation.

    There are a great many free, public domain books available online (e.g. from ManyBooks). If a book isn’t available there, it may be at Project Gutenberg Australia, since different countries used to have different copyright arrangements. I particularly enjoy the old mystery and adventure novels, and of course, you get all your classics for free, too!

    Other than that, I’ve found it really useful to read author websites. Many authors are releasing their own backlist titles for low prices, sometimes on their own website, and they also offer free stories or samples. Joe Konrath and Michael A. Stackpole are leading the way in this area, but your favourite author is sure to have something special for you to read, right there and then.

    So far, I haven’t been able to find an Australian library which will lend me ebooks, although this practice is well-developed overseas. My local library (Renmark SA), although usually innovative, has no ebooks to offer. Is there any Australian library which will allow readers from other localities to register and borrow ebooks?

    Currently, on the ever-helpful ebook-user forum MobileRead, its many Australian members are being advised to sign up with an American library, in order to borrow ebooks. Surely we can do that here?

  7. The challenge librarians face is the interpretation of the licensing attached to ebooks. I have been investigating the use of and loaning of Kindles from our Library and actually spoke to Amazon in the US. They wrote back and said it was not allowed. This may well be one of the reasons why ..”I haven’t been able to find an Australian library which will lend me ebooks”.

    Apple have said I can lend the Ipad but and here’s the rider I have to seek permission from every individual app publisher for permission to “loan” their app on the ipad.

    rest assured Clytie Siddall many of us would love to “loan” ebooks like other resources but we are having to investigate and develop new models as we head into the emerging ebook world which is challenging but a lot of fun “pushing the boundaries”.

  8. Funny you say that John! We have been lending Kindles for a few months now and the kind people at Kindle actually helped us set them up so they could be loaned easily. Amazon on the other hand were spectacularly unhelpful, so don’t even bother going there! Kindle have a help service where you leave your phone number and they call you (yes! even in Australia). US libraries have been lending Kindles for ages and when we contacted a few of them to get the low down on how they were managing, we found them very helpful also. Don’t be put off. Get involved; your clients will love them.
    Thanks also Clytie for your great post. I’ve bookmarked all the sites you mentioned!

  9. well here’s an easy fix. So simple in fact I suspect that Kindle/Amazon may have left it open on purpose…
    1. get the Kindle app for your PC or iPhone or iPad or iWhatever. Install & register it
    2. log into your new kindle product account (via, go to your account settings and change the address that’s listed against your kindle registration. Change it to something in Canada, the US, Puerto Rico, Kalamazoo. Just not Australia. (note: you may need to borrow a real address eg a business you find on the web, so you can enter a correctly formatted zip code & phone number)
    3. buy your book/s
    4. change your kindle registration address back to Australia when you’re done.
    I just did this with no snags.
    Take that you creepy publishers. HA!!

  10. Kirk, you have to pay in US dollars and have a US IP based address too, otherwise the next time you log in could see your account being frozen and books wiped. Better to create a whole new fake account with US address (google rental accomodation in preferred US state). Buy some US based Amazon gift cards ($US) – can buy on ebay.Then gift ebooks in bulk to a dummy e’ddress ( Download books onto your computer, then to your reader (keep e-reader isolated from Kindle/Amazon store). Want more books repeat with new accounts and e’ddresses.
    Its the Australian IP address that tips them off that you are manipulating the system. I have read in other forums that some people have had their e-books they purchased wiped. I have had emails sent to my email addresses seeking proof of US residency or military credentials.

  11. Hi Folks,
    Stumbled across this (I’m in UK) while looking for non Amazon kindle books.
    As I understand, the copyright laws and freedom to ‘format shift’ media, are much fairer to the consumer in Australia. In the UK DRM punishes purchasers. We are told if we want to lend a book to someone (ebook that is) then get them to buy a copy!!! You cannot treat a ebook as a physical book despite what the proponents of DRM claim.

    If in fact your laws are fairer, it may be the ‘big boys’ see less profit in Australia hence the paucity. Does a dictionary of economics have the word ‘greed’ in it?

    Hey ho, so it goes……..

  12. It would be interesting to re-do this exercise as the Australian Kindle Store now has in excess of 720,000 titles with just over 47,000 added in the past 30 days.

    I also notice that John Marsden is now available in the Kindle Store.

  13. I have had this happen to me once. I looked on the web to find a book (can’t remember which one, sorry) because the colour is nice and I can see all the formats available. I found the book I wanted, tried to order it from the web page and got the “not in this region” message. I looked for the same book, this time using the kindle itself, and it downloaded it no problems.

    It might not work all the time, but it is worth a try.

  14. This thread appears to have been dead for a long time so I may be talking to myself, but it feels good just to type it…

    I’ve been looking again at Kindles now that they’re out at Woolworths et al, but honestly Australians are still getting so screwed over by the cute little cartel behaviour of publishers and distributors that it’s not funny. Gordy did say that it would be interesting to do the above exercise again, and the percentages now look higher… but when you drill into the detail that’s where we’re losing out.
    Fiction: US 326,883. AU 283,785. AU percentage 86%
    Last 30 days US 38,854. AU 37,425. AU percentage 96%
    Non-Fiction US 720,320. AU 518,657. AU percentage 72%

    There is STILL not a single book by Tim Winton available to Australians. Carl Sagan? One co-authored book, as opposed to most of his titles being available in the US. Even if you look at a best-selling pot-boiler author like Tom Clancy, one book in Australia, pretty much his entire collection in the US. The same with for example Michael Crichton. As you’d expect, non-fiction is even weaker than fiction.

    I know that a lot of this is the unconscionable conduct of publishers, but Amazon themselves hack me off in two ways:
    – First, when you do a search instead of admitting “we have nothing that you want to buy” it instead shows you hundreds of titles tenuously, if at all, related to your search. When I search for “Cornelius Ryan” in e-books, (3 of his most famous titles available in the US, zero in Australia) I want *e-books*, not paperbacks. I HAVE the paperbacks, it’s shelf space that I want to clear.
    – Second, I can think of no excuse, none, why the Kindle does not support the EPUB format aside from, obviously, wanting to greedily lock you to their own store.

    I believe in people getting paid for their work, but honestly the way a lot of book publishers (and Amazon) seem hell bent on screwing over consumers because they feel like it then as CW said, I see how the dark side came about.

  15. i have just come across this website and i think it’s great, I have an iriver story ereader and though it was quite
    pircey when i bought it have enjoyed every moment of it. It came preloaded with over 200 hunderd books
    and even though they are all classics it was nice not to have to buy them. I would love to get a second one for
    work but I don’t think that model is available anymore and i am so confused because there are so many others
    out there. I don’t really like the touch screen so i am now at a loss as to what to do. if any knows where i can find
    the iriver story not the iriver hd it would be greatly appreciated. I was thinking of Kindle but a lot of people have
    said that there aren’t many books available for Australia. I am going to the U S next year and was wondering it
    it would be worth it to get one in the states and try and transfer conted while i am there.
    thanking you all in advance…Happy ereading to all

  16. (just discovered this thread also)

    I too have stumbled upon a number of books unavailable to my newly acquired Kindle. Frustratingly, the first book in the Farseer Trilogy (“The Assassin’s Apprentice”) by Robin Hobb is unavailable in Australia, but (somewhat bizarrely) the next two books in the series are available. My sister (who lives in the US) was able to purchase a couple of novels for me, but then I was unable to download them to my kindle here . . . unlike a paper copy which could have been posted . . .

    anyway, just my two cents

  17. I was able to acquire Geraldine Brooks’ “Caleb’s Crossing” for my new Kindle, enjoyed it very much, as I had all her other historically based books in the days of paper.
    So chased her “Foreign Correspondence” for my Kindle, found it, added it to my basket, only to be rejected when I tried to complete the transaction.
    This annoyed me so much that I recorded a comment on this idiocy (Brooks is an Australian author after all). This comment then appeared on the Amazon site but has since been cleaned out I think.
    I can only assume that some of Brooks’ earlier stuff was on contracts which were less wide ranging, more restrictive.
    This sort of restrictive practice is very annoying.

    I have intended to try to write Brooks about it, but not yet got around to it.
    Her Boyer lectures have reminded me of this.

  18. I’d love to hear how you get on, John. To be fair I haven’t noticed Amazon being too harsh in censoring content, but then it doesn’t have to be. It’s largely a fanboi club over there where the Kool-Aid is drunk by the litre. Every single forum post that I’ve seen which is even mildly critical of Amazon, whether it’s a valid criticism or not, starts to rack up little “0 of 3 (4, 5, etc) people think this post adds to the discussion” votes as well as occasional follow-up posts about how the people who dared voice such an opinion are ignorant buffoons who should love it or leave it. (Or, perhaps, are Barnes and Noble stooges.)

    Though it has to be said that some such criticism is ill-directed and should be aimed at idiotic authors or publishers who seem to withhold titles simply because they can, or charge outrageous prices. (Batavia [Kindle Edition] by Peter Fitzsimons, $27.79, for instance.) Yeah, right. No printing costs, no transport or warehousing costs, no publisher -> wholesaler -> retailer markup, no remaindering work, and yet the price charged is what we’re used to paying for hard covers at Big W or K Mart. This seems to be an increasing trend and after the initial low prices we seem to be being primed to get back to paying what we did for physical copies.

    I do wonder if the publishers of such titles also publish the story of the goose who laid the golden eggs. If so, they need to re-read it. The combination of withholding titles (presumably to keep up sales of physical editions in some regions), and sometimes outrageous prices when they finally do release them, will be a wonderful boost for the industry. If we’re talking about the piracy industry, that is.

  19. […] Kindle Fire Even More Attractive // RyanSpoon.comYour Guide to eReaders and eBooks for Library StaffWant Australian Kindle ebook content? Don’t be Australian. […]

  20. Sorry this may have been covered already in the comments but I didn’t read them all – when I log into with my aussie account, almost every single eBook I looked up was unavailable in Australia. It said to click a certain link for a list of books available in Australia…but when I clicked it I remained in the same part of the website browsing eBooks unavailable to me. If anybody knows a solution please email me.

  21. Trying to get the best selling series “His Dark Materials” (The Golden Compass) and it isn’t available in Australia. Go figure?

  22. Ditto, I listen to audio books (audible) and also frustrated by restrictions on what I am ALLOWED to purchase because I am in Australia.

    I can buy some books by Frank Herbert but most by Brian are not avaliable, these are available on US and UK sites. Catherine Asaro, Peter F Hamilton, and so many others are available in other countries.

    It is just ridiculous that I can buy 13 of Asaro’s but 3 of them I am not allowed.

    I am not surprised that so many people try to find ways around what is basically discrimination.

    Good luck controlling copy right breaches, when this problem is ongoing.

    I say we lobby for all publishing law to be under one system and stop this idiotic nonsense!

    Equal opportunity reading for all!

  23. I love having access to ebooks and having been travelling a lot the last couple of years they’ve been a godsend. I tend to buy books from Amazon (using the non-US trick mentioned above) and then convert using Callibre or Unswyndle so I have in a different backup format in case Amazon freeze my account in the future.

    The issue is that when a book is originally published, unless it’s picked up by an international publisher, the publisher usually picks up rights for the home country (Publisher A) and then tries to sell rights to other countries around the world. So Publisher B may have right for UK, Publisher C, rights for Bolivia and Publisher D, rights for South Africa. So Publisher A who holds the original rights to the book has sold the right to publish in South Africa to Publisher D – so if Publisher D doesn’t make an ebook, the book isn’t available to the South African audience. But publisher A can’t sell the book in South Africa as he has sold the rights to another company.

    Authors can write to their publisher and request that the book be made available as an ebooks or that rights revert back to them (usually within 28 days). Matters are complicated by the fact that older books were written before ebooks became available and these rights haven’t been taken up. For example, last time I looked Magician by Raymond Feist still wasn’t available as an ebook, nor the early works of Stephen Donaldson.

    So publishers aren’t doing this out of ‘spite’ – it’s just that they don’t have the rights to publisher in certain territories.

    It is a bit nuts that I can buy physical a book from Amazon US and get it sent to me wherever I am in the world, but I can’t do it with a digital book – as this equally breaches the concept of only getting copyright material from .the country you live in.

  24. It’s only a matter of time before someone sets up a webshop that sells titles direct – from writers to readers and does away from the publishers altogether. If they continue to work with business models designed for the last century they too will do themselves a disservice in the long term. My wife, a German living in Australia has just purchased a Kindle with the thought of downloading German books. The whole crazy situation only drives people to get around the system and encourages piracy, makes everything more complicated and frustrates consumers who would otherwise be happy to pay a reasonable amount for an ebook.

  25. All this talk of piracy, and anger directed at writers and publishers, yet no mention of Amazon’s ridiculous ripping off of EVERYBODY who allows them to sell a book in Australia….
    The reason publishers are making their books unavailable in Australia is simple. Amazon charge 30% of the purchase price to sell most books in the U.S or U.K, also a few other territories. But if you buy that same book from Australia, Amazon keep 65% of the purchase price for themselves.
    Therefore publishers, including self publishers, are forced to sell copies of their books for almost no profit while making Amazon richer, OR give Australian rights to a different entity who sells the books to Australians at a fairer share of profits.
    There is almost no info about this on the internet, and Amazon keeps getting away with it, and people keep blaming publishers and writers for not making books available in their territory, when it is CLEARLY Amazon creating the problem.
    What we should all be doing is spreading this like wildfire all over the internet and directing people to buy Australian from Australian suppliers, which is incidentally a much more sustainable model anyway.
    Which Australian supplier? I don’t know. Is there one who’ll do the right thing and sell at the right price so we become happy to go there?

  26. “Amazon charge 30% of the purchase price to sell most books in the U.S or U.K, also a few other territories. But if you buy that same book from Australia, Amazon keep 65% of the purchase price for themselves.”

    And you have *evidence* of this from where, Ron? That’s a serious question, by the way; there’s no point spreading something “like wildfire” if “it’s something that I heard from some guy on the Intrawebz somewhere”.

    I honestly couldn’t care less whether I buy E-Books from Amazon or not, I just want to buy the dam* books in that format. I don’t buy everything from Amazon, I also buy from O’Reilly which offers multiple formats and no DRM on their own titles, something which I’m sure isn’t beyond that capabilities of other publishers to do if they really wanted to.

    If what you describe really is correct, I myself would be wondering why someone else hasn’t taken advantage of the gap and set up an Australian-based e-publishing distributor (notably a coalition of the authors and local publishing houses themselves) which would offer a more equitable distribution of the profits. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who reads non-Amazon books on my Kindle. (And yes I know that Amazon is screwing up with the lack of support for ebook format, but there are plenty of other formats that work…)

    And this ALSO doesn’t explain why there is such a ridiculous shortage of overseas authors titles available in Australia, even popular ones, and in some cases even deceased ones who are less likely to worry about royalty shares. Though I note that there’s a reasonable selection of Michael Crichton’s work FINALLY coming out on May 14. That’s one out of… I’ve lost count how many.

  27. I can confirm what Ron says, though the figures are now 35% and 70%. I have published a book through Kindle Direct Publishing.

    I’m not sure if this is a public access page, but there is information regarding the royalties options available here:

  28. Has anyone tried borrowing ebooks for kindle from a usa library using a friend over there and their library number?

  29. We have now well and truly entered the age of electronic publication; clearly the need for regional publishers has now passed. Local publishing was needed when the alternative was shipping heavy books around the planet in bulk – no longer the case.
    Publishers should buy the international rights hence forth, not just for their local region. Why have publishers at all? Maybe authors could sell their books directly to Amazon or someone similar for electronic release around the world – instant worldwide market with no fuss.
    For those who still want hard copies small local publishers could perhaps buy the right to publish locally on paper only. The big publishing houses have to accept the fact their time has passed, at least as far as hard copy and regional publishing is concerned. They are not the talent and they are not the market they are nothing but a bloated bureaucracy of middlemen/delivery men and we don’t need or want them anymore. To them I say – “Loose the chains and stop holding the world back.”

  30. In 2010, Clytie ask “So far, I haven’t been able to find an Australian library which will lend me ebooks, although this practice is well-developed overseas.[…] Is there any Australian library which will allow readers from other localities to register and borrow ebooks?”

    It is now 2012, I have found a few Australian librarys which lend e-books but not for Kindle! Does anyone know about any which allow borrow e-books that you can read in a kindle?

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