Canadian Kindle Owners Forced To Leave American Kindle Content & Features Behind
from the nothing-in-it-for-the-customers-if-they-move,-and-even-less-if-they-stay dept
Something strange and potentially awful is happening to Amazon's users in various locations outside the US. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader reports that Amazon's Canadian Kindle customers are being locked out of purchasing ebooks through Amazon's .com domain.
Over the past couple days several of those readers have reported that many Kindle titles are showing up on Amazon.com as not being available to Canadian customers even though the same titles will show up on Amazon.ca as being available.
So far as I can tell, the only ebooks still available to Canadian Kindle owners are titles distributed via KDP, seriously limiting their ability to make use of their Kindles.
What seems to be happening is a push by Amazon to move customers from other countries over to their local domains, something that has been reported in Brazil, Japan and France. Other news has filtered in that this is not necessarily Amazon's doing, but is a result of publishers “moving” product to non-US regions where pricing is still advantageous (i.e., not subject to the terms of the settlements reached with the Justice Department in the ebook price-fixing investigation).
No matter who is at fault, it's the users that are getting the shaft. Amazon has only been selling Kindle ebooks to Canadians since late in 2009, but many Canadians have been purchasing ebooks through Amazon's .com domain since 2007. (Its .ca Kindle store has only been around since December of 2012.) Forcing Canadian users to set up a new .ca account means that much of what their .com accounts contain won't transfer over.
First, while Amazon claims that any purchased ebooks will be available* after a Canadian Kindle owner transfers their account that’s not completely true. The ebooks might be transferred, but I’m told that a customer’s purchase history is not transferred and the wish lists are also abandoned. That’s going to make it a lot harder for some readers to keep track of what they own and what they want to buy.
Oh, and that claim about the Kindle content transferring isn’t exactly true. Amazon.ca doesn’t yet support subscriptions, nor does it offer Kindle Serials. That means this Kindle content will be lost in the transfer process along with any back issues that had been saved. What’s more, Amazon.ca doesn’t offer music and video so transferring an account will prevent customers from accessing media they’ve already purchased.
If it's publishers making this push solely to maximize pricing advantages in non-US countries, the prices being quoted by some .ca users don't seem to bear this out. (Others have reported higher prices as well, but it doesn't seem to be anything approaching “regulation-free” price hikes across the board.) However, one site did get a response from a publisher, which indicates the current issues are possibly at least partially their fault.
After speaking to Amazon Kindle support they informed us that this change was not their doing. They said a change like this would have been made by the publisher only. One of the major publishers affected responded back to me saying, “It certainly wasn’t our intentional doing; although it may be a side-effect of our pricing model. I’ll investigate and see what I can do.”
For Canadian users (and customers in Brazil, Japan, France, etc.), it doesn't really matter which party is forcing the migration. The end result is a very possible loss of purchased content and a definite loss of purchase histories, preferences and a number of other small, but essential, perks that are part of a long-term Amazon account. This is going to hit the most loyal customers the hardest — the last thing Amazon should want to do.
While there are many ways to route around this new issue, the fact remains that migrating a customer's account should keep it intact, especially when there's no perceived benefit for the end user. If this is publishers reshuffling their offerings to take advantage of out-of-US pricing, it's in Amazon's best interest to point this out. If this is Amazon's doing, it needed to have the kinks worked out before pushing it on its customers.