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.

I have received multiple reports (here, here,here) today that Amazon is now refusing to allow their Canadian customers to buy Kindle ebooks from

Over the past couple days several of those readers have reported that many Kindle titles are showing up on as not being available to Canadian customers even though the same titles will show up on 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. 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, 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.

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Comments on “Canadian Kindle Owners Forced To Leave American Kindle Content & Features Behind”

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el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: whats a kindle

Wrong. I don’t like Amazon, but the Paperwhite the most used gadget in my collection. The e-ink is much easier on the eyes than a backlit LCD screen and the battery lasts for weeks.

In fairness, the first thing I did when I bought it was root it and remove the ads. I haven’t given a dime to Amazon (outside of the cost of the hardware) and purchase everything through 3rd party sources using Calibre to synchronize. It’s an extremely locked down device, but credit where credit is due.

Chris Kellen (profile) says:

Re: Re: whats a kindle

I do much the same with my Nook Tablet, although I installed the rooted OS on a memory card so that I didn’t overwrite the basic software (because frankly, the Nook Reader software is better than anything I’ve found on Android native).

I’m always on the lookout for more 3rd party sources… do you mind sharing the ones you use? I tend to use Smashwords whenever possible, although that’s mostly for the indie stuff I buy.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: whats a kindle

Baen has a pretty large collection of SciFi available DRM free. Obviously the Gutenberg Project has what little hasn’t been ripped from the Public Domain (yet). From an ethical standpoint, I have zero problem with grabbing electronic versions of books that I already own…so a few have also come from friends willing to share their particular file. If you haven’t installed and learned Calibre yet, do so. Not only is it the best manager around, it can also download articles from various sites and send them to your device properly formatted.

Zakida Paul says:

Who ever decided that regional licensing restrictions in a digital market makes good business sense needs to be sacked.

These restrictions are the biggest factor driving people to piracy and it is beyond me how there are people who fail to see this. If the licensing industries are to remain relevant, they are going to have to give up a little bit of control. It will benefit everyone.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re:

Region-locking = price-fixing and market control. Despite all the technological advancements, access to content struggles from the same old setbacks.

I honestly feel that the internet was better in many ways over a decade ago. Sure, broadband speeds were slow, CPUs weren’t as powerful and HD storage left something to be desired, but we had something better — namely, freedom. People could make fansites for their favorite artists, movies, wrestling promotions, video games, etc. and include content without fear of being shut down. We had fun, we shared, discussed, learned, and nobody got hurt. But then the big mean corporates stepped in and ruined it for everybody.

We need a revolution in culture to placate the old one.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

…you don’t know that the kindle format will still be readable in 10 to 20 years.

Why wouldn’t it be readable? The Mobipocket container format that Kindle e-books are based on has been around 13 years, and the text files in that container are just slightly modified HTML/XHTML/CSS files–the image files are all bog standard. With e-book DRM being trivial to remove, and conversion to another format being so easy (all e-books at their core are HTML/XHTML/CSS based). I highly doubt that any e-book format will be impossible to read in 20 years–if ever.

The only barrier to readability in 20 years would be availability. Can the end user keep track of a digital file for 20 years? Will the retailer still be around and allow you to re-download after 20 years? These are problems that all digital files have–whether bought from a retailer, downloaded for free, or even self created.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

This is why I hate DRM

I basically usually read books either from Authors who don’t have DRM and have a CC license (like Cory Doctorow or Colonel Lawrence Lessig) or have passed into the Public Domain (like on Project Gutenberg). Very rarely would I read a book that has DRM.

Also, I prefer the EPUB format, because I know how to hack and modify that thing. The MOBI format, not so much.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re: This is why I hate DRM

Epub may be visually superior to Amazon’s previous Kindle format–the new KF8 format is about on par with epub. Many of the features of the epub standard are not mandatory, so support for them is not equal on all the different readers (plus some readers epub implementation is just straight up broken–Adobe, I’m looking at you). Using any of the advanced features of epub can cause display problems on different devices/reader software making epub design a nightmare unless you stick to boring layouts. Kindle has a much smaller hardware/software target–all controlled by Amazon, making it a much easier target to hit.

And why would Amazon change? They are the dominant e-book retailer, and are in a position that is any retailers wet dream–all their customers are locked into their system. The only reason they would have to change is if they start to lose that dominance–either in the hardware/software or content–to some other retailer. I don’t think that is likely to happen any time soon, as their only real competitor (Apple) likes their ecosystem just as locked up as Amazon’s.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This is why I hate DRM

There is one important distinction between Apple’s locked ecosystem and Amazon’s locked ecosystem: Apple won’t delete a file you downloaded from their iTunes store off your hard drive. Even if they don’t carry the product anymore, it’s still on your hard drive. I know this because DRM’d works they don’t carry anymore are still accessible on my iTunes and iPod Touch. For the record, I never used Apple’s iCloud service. While there is a lot (shitloads, even) that Apple does wrong, this is one of those areas that they got right.

Also, EPUB files work on the Nook, Kino, Sony E-Reader, etc.

akp (profile) says:

Re: Struggling For Sympathy

Except people keep hoping that if they do pay for stuff, they actually own it. Most people don’t even understand the “new industry” model where we just “license” our entertainment and never own anything.

I’d rather my favorite authors get paid, somehow. The way the **AAs and now the publishing industry go on is that if I don’t pay them, artists will stop creating. We know that’s crap, but I’d usually still rather pay for something I enjoyed enough that I want the artist to keep on doing it.

What I often do is go ahead and pay (if the price is reasonable), and then go ahead and pirate the same thing so I have the “unlocked” version of whatever it is.

Add to that, especially with books you really do get what you pay for. The formatting on most books I’ve “acquired” is atrocious, those I’ve gotten through the Kindle ecosystem, or or other legit sources have been much nicer. No weird watermarking, no OCR errors. On music and movies, I don’t care if the metadata is all messed up, but when I have hundreds of books on my Kindle, I need that metadata to work.

Gregg says:

US to CAN price differences

The real reason it might be happening is that in our retail books stores, US prices are always lower than Canadian prices, by a lot. Even though the Canadian dollar has been on par or higher value than US currency since 2007/8. Amazon see’s this and is keeping Canadians to only buying from the Canadian with inflated prices.

I will never enter the ebook market until it is fair, equal and more of a free enterprise model. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and really they are forcing people to go to piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

One problem with the theory

The theory that this has to do with the price fixing allegations and the regulatory control of the US Courts makes no sense though. Amazon benefited tremendously from the court case as Apple was the one colluding with the publishers and complaining about Amazon the entire time. Why would Amazon go along with this if this were the case?

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: One problem with the theory

I’m not sure if Amazon IS going along with this. Publishers can simply “pull” their books and release them as specific versions for each market. I’m not sure of all the mechanics behind it (or even 100% sure this IS what’s happening), but listing one set at one price at .ca and another at .com and limiting users to selecting one or the other based on their “home country” allows the publishers to (theoretically) increase prices to an advantageous level OUTSIDE the US.

Amazon may not have any control over this as ultimately the publishers control how, when, where and at what price their books are listed.

Again, there’s very little solid evidence that publishers are doing this. But I would imagine that if it was 100% the publishers’ fault, there’s still be very little publicly-available evidence. It’s not like they’d want customers to know they were moving to country-specific catalogs SOLELY to take advantage of pricing flexibility.

If this is Amazon making this push… it’s much more inexplicable. There’s very little benefit for the company and much more potential for negative fallout.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: One problem with the theory

So you think it may be the publishers using strong arm tactics to get Amazon to do this. Could be. Still one of the things that the publishers screamed loudly about related to the price fixing case was that Amazon was selling their ebooks below cost to get customers. That leads me to believe that either 1. Amazon feels that they have enough market share in those other markets that they can start to move pricing up their without the significant competition to bring the market back down or 2. they are being forced to do this in those markets as a concession to keep the publishers happy enough to continue giving them the books. If it’s the latter, we might see them release some sort of leak out that gives us an indication that this is the case. Given the way they stood up to them on the price in the former issue, I can’t see Amazon just taking this lying down.

Anonymous Coward says:

After I heard that the Kindle lost a free book from peoples reading devices I decided right then to not buy one.
Until the process is an open as buying a paper book I will not buy a kindle or any other reading device or ebook.
I have a tablet and can read books on it if I wish.
I also have access to many books in epub and mobi format that I can read on my tablet any time I want to.

Brian Goudge (profile) says: Kindle

I was delighted to read that was carrying Kindle; am now very discouraged when I read this article. I’m tired of being forced to pay a different price from that available to Americans, be it books, greeting cards,or whatever
Bottlom line…no new Kindle for me until Amazon and the publishers get their respective acts together!

gorehound (profile) says:

You guys will think I am a dinosaur but I feel that I am a very smart person.You see I have never and will never buy a Digital Book.
That being said I do love Books and own around 1500 of them.A huge Collection of Science Fiction Rarities and 1ST Edition World War 2 Eastern Front Books.
I am Willing my Collection to my Son and I fully Own every Single One to do with whatever I want.I could even Burn them if I felt like it.
I keep my Books Displayed and people see them when they visit.They have nice Plastic Rare Book Bags and never any Sunlight so the Paper has not Faded.
Right now it is Appraised Conservatively at $16,500.
I really love my Books.

Cody Jackson (profile) says:


I just checked KDP to see how my book sales are doing and saw that Amazon had recently added several new locations. Previously, the only country specific sales were Spain, Italy, UK, France, and Germany. Now they have Japan, Canada, et al.

On the one hand, as an author, it’s a pain in the butt to have to look at each location separately to see sales. However, it is interesting to see where the buyers are from; it can help improve “internationalization” of future books.

I don’t know if this will be a good thing or not for authors, but it looks to be a pain in the butt for consumers. I don’t understand why (beyond short-sighted publishers) it matters where someone buys a digital book from, especially with VPN services being widely available. It won’t stop anyone from going “outside their country” to get what they want.

A. Nnoyed (profile) says:

Amazon Policies

I wonder if Amazon Management is changing policies to bleed more money out of customers. I am a prime member which means that I am entitled to free two day shipping on any item sold directly by when I purchased my membership.

Two days ago I attempted to order some low cost merchandise from Amazon (under $10.00). Each item had a flag beside it “ADD ON ITEM”. When I added the item to the cart it did not give me an opportunity to go to check out. When I clicked on the ADD ON ITEM flag, a text box appeared indicating that the items were add on items and would include free shipping if I purchase merchandise that costs $25.00 or more. I was not given a way to pay for shipping in order to obtain the merchandise without purchasing other merchandise for $25.00 or more. When I purchased my prime membership one of the features of the membership was free shipping even if the cost of the merchandise was less than $25.00.

It took me several minutes to find a way to contact Amazon. The customer service representative had to manually enter my order in order to enter it into their system.

I wonder if the scheme effecting customers moving to Canada, preventing customers from taking books that they purchased to Canada, is another method to squeeze more money out of the customer. The reason I like hard copy books is that the publisher cannot dictate where I can read the book and when traveling, an airline stewardess cannot force me to put my book away during takeoff and landing.

Christa says:

annoyed Canadian

Well I’m a Canadian kindle owner and we have a total of 5 of them for the whole family on my account. woke up Saturday to my daughter trying to buy a book on and buying options weren’t there just message saying go to

Called customer service who had no idea what was going on. i had seen the info boxes that you could change to but hadn’t heard they were going to force us. was told not to purchase anything else or change to .ca or we would lose all our books which is over 2000. she couldn’t change the country though she used to have that option wasn’t coming up

woman did call back 6 hours later to tell me we had been switched to and our books would transfer. to be honest I’m not sure they did because we had so many. my husband did lose his subscriptions which i was told were cancelled the day before.

however my gift card balance did not transfer!! because I’m in Canada can’t sound it on non kindle items they won’t ship here. was told a gift card specialist would contact me to resolve gift card balance we now can’t spend on kindle books or anything else since they won’t ship here.

got an email today saying its not transferable from to to use it on which again won’t ship to Canadian address. no option to refund my credit card which purchased it and is same one used for kindle purchases.

IF we had been notified we were going to be forced to I could have decided to make sure it was spent before switched, waited and bought card instead or just not purchased it.

So we were switched without notification, unsure if all books came, subscriptions loathing not just stopped but already paid issues gone from kindle and archive. customer service with no clue what happened and gift card balance we can’t spend on anything.

We love our kindles obviously, we bought one for all 5 family members. similar Canadian readers don’t compare. This was handled horribly. We hadn’t heard anything about the switch just that little info box that we could purchase from

at the very least should have notified Canadian users this was going to happen. have customer service know it was, Smooth transfer or refund of gift card balance or notice to spend before switch.

And personally my family could really have done without those 6 hours of thinking once switched to we were going to lose all of our over 2000 books.


Zach says:

Switching to Indigo, a Canadian bookstore

I like my Kindle. It’s nice, but now that electronic copies of books are more expensive than paperbacks in my local bookstore, Indigo I have no choice but to switch back to paper.

I hope this doesn’t work out for Amazon quite the way they were expecting. I know I’m only one customer, but I buy a lot of books, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Just seems like a dumb move and a waste of the potential that is available with these technological advancements.

mfon (user link) says:

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Set Goals Like A Tiger: Personal & Spiritual Guidance To Keep You On Track} that sets your mind unto a productive approach on how to manage and set an achievers target.This book will take your mind in-dept bringing out solutions and issues that has killed the better part of you. Everyone has his or her own unique approach to life. Its just a matter of you discovering it at the quickest possible time because time waits for no one.

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