One of my Internet pals in New Mexico gave me a little gift yesterday, which left me grinning like a fool. Virginia DeBolt went to hear one of her favourite authors speak — someone who’s one of my favourites too: Nevada Barr.
After the talk Virginia had Nevada Barr hold up a sign:
I made this hokey looking sign for Miraz, and Nevada happily posed with a greeting to her far-away fan. The last thing she told me after signing my book, was, “And hi to Miraz.”
This is Virginia’s photo (resized to fit here):
The ebook geography problem
I first discovered Nevada Barr’s books a little more than a year ago, thanks to the Kindle store. I mentioned them in Try an ebook today — they’re fun.
What that article didn’t mention though was that only her first book — the one that got me hooked on her writing — was available to me on Kindle.
I came across Track of the Cat (An Anna Pigeon Novel), was interested, downloaded it moments later after paying by credit card and was reading it within minutes, all without leaving the couch. Oh, and ‘shipping’ was free.
As soon as I finished it I went back to Amazon to buy the next one in the series.
Did you know that if you visit from a US IP address you can see around 21 of her books in the Kindle format, mostly at US$7.99 per book, but if you visit from a New Zealand IP address you see only one (plus one anthology that includes some of her work)?
That day I was in the swing. I had my figurative wallet out and was about to willingly hand over some virtual cash, and … nothing but frustration.
This is not the first time I’ve been disadvantaged by geography. Another of my most favourite authors is Marcia Muller and it’s the same story — I can’t buy her books in Kindle format. Not a single one of her superb Sharon McCone series is available to me on Kindle, because I’m in New Zealand.
I’ll spare you the long rant, but this really annoys and frustrates me.
When I bought the paperback of Muller’s Locked In from Amazon back in September 2010 — I’ve tried and failed to find any of her books locally, except occasionally in second hand stores — I paid US$7.99 for the book and US$9.98 for shipping. New Zealand is a long way away from almost everywhere.
I only paid those prices because I had a coupon that covered half the amount. Shipping at the rate I can afford takes weeks.
I suspect most Kiwis who buy from Amazon save up until they have a bunch of items and then buy them all at once to save on shipping.
I’ve bought numerous books from Amazon since then — none were on paper and all were Kindle books.
No spontaneous purchases
So, back to the Kindle Store. I was ready and willing to pay out a sum of money for the instant gratification of reading the series one after the other on my iPad. But it was no go because they wouldn’t sell the books to me.
In fact, if I was logged in they wouldn’t even show the books to me.
The Library loop
So I bought something else instead and read that. Then sometime later I borrowed my partner’s Library Card and visited Wellington Central Library. I haven’t owned, wanted or needed a library card for well over a decade now, perhaps more like 15 years.
After a 10 minute drive to town, finding a free space, paying for parking, I found the correct shelves in the Library and was lucky enough to find the next few books in the series.
I borrowed them, drove home, read them. Then repeated the process, with the added frustration of not finding a couple of books in the middle of the series.
An eternal optimist
I’m now a few books behind with both favourite authors. I’m really reluctant to buy anything on paper any more, and definitely won’t buy a hardback book. Those hardbacks always seem to be published first — it’s very annoying.
I keep thinking with each book that this time they’ll let me buy the Kindle version. Each time so far I’ve been disappointed. I’m in New Zealand so I’m not allowed to buy that version.
Authors and publishers please sell to me
Here’s my plea: authors and publishers, it’s the 21st century. We have devices that display your ebooks superbly. We have instant delivery at almost zero cost. We have a global economy. We have the technology to pay you in your country instantly in your currency from our country.
We have folks here who want to pay you for your products delivered as ebooks.
For that matter, we have people who want to buy all kinds of digital products, including movies and music, if only they were legally available to us. We’re talking books, music and movies here folks, not heroin or biological warfare agents.
Authors: please sell us your work, as ebooks. That $4 parking fee? I’d rather pay it to you for your ebooks than to the Council to rent a small rectangle of roadway for an hour.
And if it’s your publisher who’s stuck in the 19th century, give them a push! Show them the wonders of this newfangled thing called the Internet. I’m sure they’d like to expand their market.
Nevada Barr: thanks for the
Hi, and the photo. That was a nice little buzz for the day. From you in New Mexico to me in Wellington, New Zealand in the blink of an eye. The Internet is magic!