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I shall keep whining about the awful way that ebooks are sold until they fix it*.
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Someone had a link to a cheap offer on The Hunger Games ebooks, in which they were only 84 cents from Kobo. So I followed the link, which told me that I couldn't use that site, as I am not American. So I went to the UK Kobo-run site, which did not have the same offer. So I went to the Google books site, which did not have them at all. At which point I decided they did not want my money, or they would not tease me so.

Five minutes later I bumped into this piece on Scalzi's blog in which Elizabeth Bear told me that her new novel was made of AwesomeSauce, drizzled over rich fantasy meat, with a side of yummy non-European world-building. And so I reversed my searchamotron, and made pit stops at Google Books and the UK Kobo site, discovering that neither of them had the book. So I tried Amazon UK, thinking they might have it, and I could buy it on Julie's Kindle, hack it and transfer it to my book reader. Only to discover that it is not in the UK Kindle shop. Oddly, it _is_ in the US Kindle shop, but of course you can't buy from there with a UK Amazon account, and there are limits to how hard I am willing to work on giving the industrial-publishing complex my money.

And so I have bought no books today**.

(As a note, I know that There Are Reasons why these things happen. I have read about them numerous times on various author blogs. But I frankly do not care that the authors, publishers, etc. have tied themselves into a Gordian knot that makes it hard for people to give them money. They can either find themselves an Alexandrian solution or perish, their choice.)

*And by "fix it" I include "They all go bust/copyright ceases to exist/aliens destroy mankind", in increasing order of likelihood.
** I didn't just download either of them either. I just decided to find something else to read.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

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Since when are "authors" synonymous with "the publishing industry"?

They're not. I was merely speculating on what you might have meant, because I'm confused ... you seem to be saying that what you said wasn't what you meant.

How can you write something like [T]he authors [...] have tied themselves into a Gordian knot that makes it hard for people to give them money and then say that you're not blaming the authors? If you don't mean to be blaming the authors, then I'm confused as to what you do mean.

If I say "Groups A, B, C and D have gotten themselves into trouble." and I get a response of "How can you blame group B?" then I read it as "How can you say that Group B is entirely responsible."

Of course authors have _some_ of the responsibility for the contracts they signed, but the word "blame" feels strongly negative and the fact that I'd included the rest of the publishing industry as well made it, I thought, obvious that I wasn't solely blaming anyone.

Huh. It was just a semantics disagreement then. I would have considered "Groups A, B, C, and D are all to blame" as a paraphrase of "Groups A, B, C and D have gotten themselves into trouble."

But they didn't say that. They accused me of saying "A is to blame", which has a very different connotation to "All of the people involved are to blame".

I was going to reply to akirlu's post above, but felt it could deteriorate into a flameware far too fast.

I know that Stross has different publishers for both American and UK editions, he could have tried for a single publisher for both markets but he has his reasons, both historical and financial.

All his work has apart from Toast has been published on both sides of the pond.

His take on it is here:

Very tactful, I appreciate it :->

And yeah, Charlie is one of the people that's written about it (and done so very well), that I'm referring to in my note at the end.

My bad for not double-checking on Charlie but the point remains -- whether or not content is legally available in the UK is a function of whether any publisher has bought the rights to publish it in the UK. If no UK publisher has plunked down the legal tender for the rights in a particular work, then it won't be legally available there. This is neither something that's unique to e-books, nor something authors have any significant power over.

This is neither something that's unique to e-books, nor something authors have any significant power over.

Alas... *sigh*

It's a shame there isn't an option to download it from somewhere, then make an honesty box payment to the author direct.

The thing is, publishers definitely have a place, and a purpose. As Charlie Stross has pointed out a few times in his blog, they do proof-reading, offer feedback, carry out marketing, procure cover art, etc.

So what I want is an option to download it from somewhere, and make a payment to a publisher.

Normally, this would be known as a "shop". :->

True, although given the mistakes i've seen in books, you have to wonder how much of the proof reading goes on ...

I bought an ebook last month - because I needed to read it ASAP, I couldn't find my copies, the bookshops inconsiderately weren't selling it, and the library copies were on loan.

I counted three errors with accents in it (the accent followed the letter instead of being above it - "cha^teau", for example); four spacing errors; and one hyphenation error (the word must've broken over the end of the line in the copy they scanned and they'd not caught it). On top of which the 'front cover' for the book was incredibly naff, just the title+author in large text on a coloured background.

This wasn't even a self-published ebook or, small press. No, it was from a proper publishing house and by a big-name author. I can't say it's encouraged me to buy any more ebooks at all.

And that's why I bought physical copies of the Hunger Games.. ;) However, being about to travel on public transport to somewhere where reading will happen does make me think that ebooks are a really good idea.. Hasn't stopped me from buying a fuckton of paper-books, though :D

Surely "Somewhere where reading will happen" is "Everywhere"? :->

Yes, good point. I think I meant "very little other than reading". This is my honeymoon, of course, which most people seem to think means sitting on a beach. Urgh.

(My pre-wedding thing which I do not call a "hen party" involved an exhibition at the British Library. I know how to party.)

I have no objection to sitting on a beach, providing said beach has decent internet access, and I have a book with me :->

Strangely enough, I prefer wandering along beaches than sitting and reading. And the beaches near to where I will be going might well be too cold for sitting down.

I do like going for walks. We've been out for multiple walks in the woods here every day.

Oh, Happy Wedding ... ness!


your made stuff remains quite brilliant too x

Even here in the U.S., it isn't as easy as it could/should be. My wife has been voraciously reading the Hunger Games trilogy; she bought the first two for her Kindle, easy as can be -- and one of them might have been been a free monthly "borrow" thanks to her Amazon Prime membership, if that hadn't been used for something else -- but when she tried to download #3, she was told it wasn't available for download. However, when I check, or, it is very clearly available... so I logged into her Amazon account, purchased it for USD$7.14, to be delivered directly to her Kindle the next time it syncs, if that hasn't already automagically transpired as it sits at home on wifi. It may have even worked!

... I also just successfully purchased the Hunger Games trilogy-for-$3.06 deal, though it took some finagling -- the second and third promo codes are No Longer Active, so I had to leverage some multi-account action as explained in the comments. :]

Edited at 2012-03-29 02:28 am (UTC)

I should have known it was you who the voucher deal came from!

Glad you got it working ok.

I don't think I'd actually linked to it yet, though I was aware of it before you posted it. :)

Or look at the Harry Potter series. Rowling kept the e-book rights, she's selling them basically direct-to-customer in a lovely no-DRM ePub form, and yet you can't buy the British editions in the US.

WIRED discusses the issue and has a statement from Rowling's spokesperson: "Quite simply, the decision was made to respect the publishers and their territories."

The publishers. Not the readers, who may well have paper copies of the UK editions that they carried home from trips or bought from overseas Amazon sites that will happily ship them across borders (no pun intended)....

Some people have apparently been successful in buying the UK editions as "gifts" using their US credit card (and US pricing), then redeeming the gift codes after signing up for another Pottermore account "resident in the UK". That's a stupid workaround that requires lying, but it's still more honest than just giving up and pirating the UK editions.

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