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Amazon’s Kindle Canada Plan: Half-Baked?

Posted By Joanna Cabot On January 23, 2013 @ 10:00 am In Amazon | 11 Comments

[1]Thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for alerting me to some reports from dissatisfied Canadian customers alleging that Amazon is trying to force them them into leaving the Kindle store now that Amazon.ca has launched its own storefront. From his write-up [2]:

“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.”

Anecdotally, I can confirm that this is true. A few books on my wish list mysteriously became unavailable, and a search on Amazon.ca turned them up again. What concerns me is, the Amazon.ca Kindle store is a lot less developed than Amazon.com, so I am reluctant to switch my account over, as Amazon keeps prompting me to do. There is as yet no ‘Deal of the Day’ offering in the Canadian store (although there is a page of monthly specials), and when I have checked some of the American—and available to me—deals, they were not on sale in the Canadian store as well.

And this is not a both-or-either deal, either—you get one store, or you get the other one; if you switch over your account, you can’t buy from the .com store anymore.  So they are asking us, in switching over, to give up a service we have already in favor of a lesser service, and that’s not right.

And further, a recent article on the launch of Amazon Prime in Canada [3], which I somehow missed, points out that this is not the first time Amazon has foisted a lesser service on its international customers. For the same $79 Americans are paying, Canadians can subscribe to Prime, too, but minus the Kindle lending library and streaming video—the two features that make Prime really worth the price. I understand there might be content licensing issues at play on that one. But then adjust the price of the service accordingly, Amazon! Don’t charge us the same price and then offer us only a fraction of the features!

I am still able to access the content I care about—namely, the Daily and Monthly Deals—on the main .com Kindle store. Eventually, I suppose Amazon will force my hand and make the switch for me. But I will hold out for as long as I can. If the Canadian Kindle store were truly an equivalent product, I would have no problems with switching over. But it isn’t, and everyone knows it. It’s a shame that Amazon couldn’t have planned their Canadian launch a little better and set up a proper infrastructure before they began bullying people to change over. This whole thing has a sour taste to me, and I will hold off on switching over as long as I possibly can.


11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Amazon’s Kindle Canada Plan: Half-Baked?"

#1 Comment By Paolo Amoroso On January 23, 2013 @ 10:11 am

Will Canadian Kindle authors have to switch their KDP accounts from Amazon.com to Amazon.ca? Will customers in other countries where there are Amazon stores be similarly forced to switch their accounts from Amazon.com to the local Amazons?

#2 Comment By devini On January 23, 2013 @ 11:48 am

I sure hope the Canadian Kindle store “shapes up” soon. I made the switch, gave up my Spectator subscription in doing so, a fantastic bargain, I dare say. Those Fires and PaperWhite’s better be coming soon; not to mention, magazines, apps & Kindle serials. What’s the hold up. Poorly planned indeed.

#3 Comment By Michael W. Perry On January 23, 2013 @ 11:58 am

“Bullying people” is precisely the right word. Amazon usually stays away from that practice when customers are involved, since they fear a consumer backlash.

But it’s also true that the U.S. is such a big market, some major U.S. businesses treat their out-of-US customers poorly. Products tend to be on the U.S. market sooner. They also tend to be more available and often at a lower price. There’s a lot of reason for that and one is corporate egos. If a company’s sales in the Netherlands goes down, it’s a non-story in the trade press. If it’s going down in the U.S., the pundits will be chattering and predicting doom.

But that’s not quite the situation here. Canadians who stay U.S. customers actually help U.S. sales figures. Joanna has given what is perhaps the main reason when she points to all the pluses of staying a U.S. customers. Those pluses cost Amazon money. It comes out ahead if Canadians pay the same but get less. That’s one reason for this push.

Some of the problem also lies in a ‘think inside the box’ corporate mindset. Sales in various countries are different slices of a pie chart in Powerpoint presentations, therefore the corporation, so the mindset runs, should be dealing with them differently. People in Canada need to be forced into the Canada part of the pie. Corporate executives are so caught up in control, they don’t know when to stop.

Personally, I think online retailers need to give consumers more choices. If someone wants to buy from both the Canadian and U.S. stores, let them even if it means permitting two accounts. Sales are sales and a happy customer is a repeat customer.

I also believe that book sales, particularly ebook sales, should be less territorial. Yes, the major publishers may divide the world into territories and zealously protect their turfs. But as an author and publisher I don’t. I get ticked off when I discover that I can’t buy my ebooks from Amazon Canada because my query is coming from the U.S. I don’t need to buy my ebooks from Canada or anyplace else. But if someone living in the U.S. wants to do that, then I’m delighted.

Ebook retailers, including Amazon, need to take into account marketing changes. Like a lot of others, I own all the rights to my books in English (I have sold translation rights to two). I not only could care less if sales cross national boundaries, I’m delighted by it. I should be able to click a ‘no sales restrictions’ box and have copies of that ebook sold from anywhere to anywhere. In fact, if I were Amazon, Apple and the rest, I’d add No International Sales Restrictions to a book’s description as a plus.

#4 Comment By Malignant Carp On January 23, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

I switched to the Amazon.ca store because many of the books in the US store were suddenly 1.6% more expensive and it was grating on my nerves seeing me $3.99 books $4.05 (really, $4.05? Who would price like that?). I suspect they were doing something to make up for the exchange rate (though I’m not sure their KDP TOS allows them to charge more than the price set by the publisher; I’d have to review it).

Thankfully, I had no subscriptions to anything that would be permanently lost in the switch. I also got fed up with the stupid reminder at the top telling me how I should convert and subsequently showing me why I shouldn’t.

I concur with Michael. Nothing irks me more than going to Amazon.co.uk, for example, and seeing “Kindle titles for your country are not available Amazon.co.uk.”
Why the hell not? I have placed no geographic restrictions on the titles. They are available worldwide. Amazon should, indeed, have such a checkbox so that I can allow the book to be purchased via any Amazon Kindle store. Granted, as far as I’m concerned, there should be only one Amazon Kindle store. It would certainly make checking my sales quicker, what with having to flip through all the bloody stores in the dropdown box (of course, seeing as how the page is so wide it needs a scrollbar, certainly they could add one more column for the store the sale(s) came from?).

#5 Comment By borax99 (Alain C.) On January 23, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

I too am holding out. (1) I have noticed that several formerly available titles have disappeared. (2) I have a US Paperwhite 3G – who knows if the 3G connectivity will hold up once I make the switch? (3) Deal of the day works most of the time, not interested in receiving a lesser service from Amazon.

#6 Comment By Alexander Inglis On January 23, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

Amazon.ca sells the Kindle at $89, Kindle Paperwhite at $139 and Kindle Paperwhite 3G for $199. It’s another step forward for Amazon to take amazon.ca to full natinoal status. More digital products (cloud services, mp3, video, Fire) may be coming in 2013.

#7 Comment By Mary On January 23, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

In regard to Prime, it was always $79, even before it had free video and 1 book a month. Those were perks that were added to the shipping service, which is what Prime really is. I get a lot of things delivered from Amazon so it has always been worth it to me. I’ve been underwhelmed by the free book available for loan and haven’t really found anything wonderful offered, but then it wasn’t what I signed up for either.

#8 Comment By Devini On January 23, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

@alexander inglis. I sure hope the rest are on the way. Fingers crossed.

#9 Comment By Joanna Cabot On January 24, 2013 @ 8:47 am

I hear what you’re saying, Michael, and you make some good points. I guess that for me, from my customer-centric little worldview, the issue is that I understand why my switching over would be advantageous to Amazon, but I don’t understand why it would be advantageous to ME :)

#10 Comment By Trevor Lund On January 25, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

I’ve found this to be a pain as well…but I’ve found out a bit of hack to make it easier for me.

If I go to a .com Kindle book and it says it’s unavailable to me, I simply go to the URL and change it to .ca

So far I always get the same deal. If I click the Amazon link and get taken to Amazon.ca, I usually forget what I’m looking for. If I remember, the price is NEVER the same. When I complain to Amazon and check back the next day, it usually is OK.

Just so you know I’ve only seen this work for Kindle books. Physical products that need to be shipped don’t always show up on Amazon.ca.

I don’t mind being a foreigner, I don’t like feeling like a second class citizen.

#11 Comment By Gary Mugford On January 26, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

I gave into the nags from the Amazon.com site to switch over to the Amazon.ca and was dumbfounded at the … non-Amazon-ness of the .ca site. It was almost bordering on incompetent software.

I regularly peer at the One Hundred Free Books sites and the daily lists from similarly-intended sites and click through to Amazon to peruse and maybe ‘buy’ books for my own little slush pile. In a year of doing that, I’ve actually added three authors to my follow-and-buy list. Not a high percentage, but I’m ever-hopeful. In each case, I switched the buy button to Transfer to my Computer, and then clicked the button on the next screen to start the download process. Easy as pie. After the change … not so much.

Here’s the experience I had, as described in a furious email to Amazon:

“Today, a change. Instead of the customary purchase box in the upper right, now I get a green-coloured box with a link that says “Continue shopping on Kindle Store at amazon.ca.” Fair enough, I responded to the prodding about the new Canadian store a while back by going through the process of ‘going Canadian.’ Admittedly, it was only because of the nagging.

What I expected to find was the book I had picked to be up on the screen and the one-click (TM) box would turn it into a 2-click process. Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!! What came up was a screen showing Kindle Store showing 1-16 of 1,616,801 Results. I had to search for the book, who’s title I honestly didn’t remember. So I went back a screen, copied the title and went Canadian again. I soon learned to do the copying before clicking the link, since I was going to sample 8 books from the 10 originally selected from the suggestion site. You’d think copying and pasting the title into the Search box would mean I was at only a 5-click process. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. Pasting in the title and clicking GO resulted in … NOTHING! Repeating the process a second time, NOW got me a LIST of titles, with my selection showing ‘The title is not available in your country.’ Which I ignored. In all but one case, it was a solitary list. The one time it was generic, it was a page or two down the 216 results! NOW, when I clicked it, I was finally at a screen resembling the one I started with. You know, the one promoting one-click purchasing … EIGHT clicks later.”

I pestered Amazon until one kindly support soul revealed the arcane method to GO BACK to being an Amazon.com customer. Until that detailed instruction arrived, I was seriously, very seriously, considering not dealing again with Amazon at all. Ever. Mollified, I sent in an order the next day for $200 plus worth of Christmas Gifts. But I would have carried out my threat and gone Kobo (Like all good Canadians are SUPPOSED to do). I was that mad.

And STILL, the nags to go Canadian persist, even through I’m an officially logged and lapsed Canuck electronically. It’s irksome. Not on a “Can’t buy a Fire” level of irritation. But in the ballpark. I don’t understand the quality discrepancy between the two branches of the conglomerate. But it’s SOOO bad that I don’t even think about the ‘cost’ of staying with the mother corp.


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URL to article: http://www.teleread.com/amazon/amazons-kindle-canada-plan-half-baked/

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[1] Image: http://www.teleread.com/?attachment_id=77288

[2] From his write-up: http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/01/20/amazon-now-forcing-canadian-kindle-owners-to-switch-to-canadian-kindle-store/#.UP_hMFvEKuI

[3] a recent article on the launch of Amazon Prime in Canada: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/right-click/amazon-prime-comes-canada-without-bells-whistles-203252684.html

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