Kindle kommt nach Deutschland

21 04 2011

More interesting/exciting Kindle news comes today with its arrival in Germany and the opening of the German Kindle eBooks store. Which is really great if you’re living in Germany and want quick access to those bestsellers. For us in the States (or in the UK apparently, or anywhere else that isn’t Germany), it really doesn’t make much of a difference, because this is what you’ll see:

The Kindle Shop at Amazon.De is only accessible for customers from Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

Visit the Amazon.Com Kindle Shop to look for titles that are accessible in your country.

Temporarily living abroad? You can change your country setting on the My Kindle page.

Thus, I could set my Kindle to German, change my address to German, maybe even set up a new account and get my Kindle on it, or I could even try setting my PC to use the free Kindle software with a different account than my regular American account, but you see the point. The point is a restriction of access.

Boo. Getting your hands on international movies, music and books has always been such a pain and I’ll confess, I don’t understand what all the trouble is with international copyrights that it results in setting up artificial barriers to trade in the digital era. Music’s a prime example of this. Early on, when iTunes first came out, you were able to purchase German titles right off the iTunes Germany page. Now, you can no longer even access that part of iTunes, even though technologically that capacity obviously exists. In fact, what we should be looking at now is an increased sharing of ideas around the world, where you can get everything instantly in this supreme global market, where technology allows us to make all of these borders disappear… but no. No, instead everything is gated and the technology goes to waste.

I can make the same complaint about regional encoding of DVDs as well. It’s not like that’s going to change anytime soon, either. In fact, you can’t even watch streaming video from Germany on a lot of websites unless you spoof a German IP address. It’s frustrating and I struggle to see how any of that does much good for normal people.

There is an upside, though. It means that International Book Import Service, this wonderful business based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, from whom I’ve been buying my German books for going on 15 years now, doesn’t have to bother with that sort of competition. Plus, over time, their website has gotten better about listing titles and allowing you to order online (used to be you’d have to call in by phone, which also wasn’t bad because Barbara seemed to remember everybody by name – an era of personal relationships that is, sadly, dying if not dead now). And, I’m definitely in favor of small businesses such as theirs not being swallowed up by larger corporations, though I’ll admit that the ease of access and convenience that goes into buying a Kindle book is something I’d welcome.

Kindle and Overdrive = Hooray for Libraries

20 04 2011

I’ve said a number of times on this blog what a huge fan and how supportive I am of libraries and today, I’m just really feeling impressed with Amazon coming around and offering up their format to Overdrive. I know there are some, like the article I link to, who’ll say that it’s just Amazon bowing to the inevitable. To that point, I’ll say only two things, really.

First, are you sure that it was all that inevitable? In the vast scheme of things, Amazon is a big player now. Libraries still are, too, but there’s the impression that they’re waning, especially when cities and states balance their budgets during the recession. You just never know, but Amazon on the whole might have more clout and staying power than they’re given credit for. On the other hand, it helps to sell Kindles, which is their money making baby.

Second, Guy Gonzales said it better than I could:

Funny how pundits always give Apple benefit of the doubt, rarely to Amazon, though the latter is arguably more innovative and experimental.

I’m all for shaking my fist at big capital when it comes to publishing, as has been well documented. I don’t like it when a single retailer controls so much of the market and even less when they begin to dominate the almost the entire chain of book production; writers gotta write still, but after that, I can imagine a dystopia in which Amazon becomes the one and only source for the written word. I think the reasons for that dislike are probably pretty clear.

But credit where it’s due. This is a *good* thing Amazon’s doing, even if self-interest is involved. It’s hard to see how this isn’t a win for everyone and, especially, for books and libraries.