Amazon Launches Local Kindle Store in Australia

Never one amazon australiato rest on its laurels, Amazon has launched a Kindle Store in Australia.

Numerous authors have been tweeting over the past few hours that Amazon has also added a new sales channel in KDP for a new Kindle Store at Amazon.com.au. In the past this discovery usually came a couple days before the launch of a Kindle Store, but not today.

There's been no announcement from Amazon, but the Australian Kindle Store is now live and it is selling ebooks. It currently lists 2.1 million titles in stock as well as the Kindle Paperwhite, basic Kindle,and the Kindle Fire HD and HDX. Prices start at $109 AUD.

I'm sure this is going to please Australians, but more importantly (from the viewpoint of Amazon) this should also stop their market share from dropping.

While Amazon has been selling ebooks in Australia since 2009, they have been making their Australian customers buy from Amazon.com and pay in in US dollars. Naturally that has led to a fair amount of friction as customers balk at the idea of paying in a foreign currency and buying from a company that pays no taxes, isn't creating any local jobs, and gives no specific support to Australian authors and publishers.

I have been told that these complaints are part of the reason Amazon's share of the Australian ebook market has shrunk to an estimated 65%. I don't know if that is true, but it would make sense.

On the other hand, Amazon has been facing fierce competition in Australia from Google, Apple, and Kobo, all of which have a local presence in Australia. There are also a number of independent ebookstores in Australia, including some powered by txtr and by OverDrive.

P.S. And in case anyone in new Zealand is wondering, the site Amazon.co.nz still redirects to Amazon UK.

Thanks, Karen!

 

15 thoughts on “Amazon Launches Local Kindle Store in Australia

  1. Amazon now has a Kindle Australia store – but in the same half-hearted way it has stores in Brazil and Mexico, with a dot-com-dot-au domain, which means the Australian Kindle store is nothing more than an extension of the US store with some localised tweaking.

    It looks like nothing more than desperate measure to hold on to market share as more and more Australians use the myriad alternative ebook retailers available.

    But the key point about the new store is that it will be run from the US as a sub-domain of the main store, which is not going to stem the protests from patriotic Australians who will continue to point out that Amazon will still not be paying Australian taxes or supporting local Australian business. I suspect those objections will now become even louder.

    For Australian KDP authors it’s probably going to be a great boost if they can localize their promotion, and longer-term Amazon may focus on local content and promote selected local authors.

    For the rest of us, given Australians who want to use Amazon could buy from the US Kindle store anyway, it will probably make no difference whatsoever other than to see Australian sales recorded in the KDP account as and when that goes live.

    Far from being a sign of Amazon embracing the international ebook market and bringing Kindle ebooks to new readers it’s just another sign of how much the competition is hurting.

  2. I live in New Zealand. As Chap O’Keefe, I have been an author of internationally published Western novels since 1993. Kindle editions of some of these books have been selling for $US2.99 for several years.

    But now there is an Australian Kindle store where they are priced at $A3.99, which converts to $US3.66.

    I have asked Amazon to explain, but they are still researching my question. What they have told me so far is that as a New Zealander, I am treated as an Australian and will now be charged the extra 67 US cents for $US2.99 eBooks!

    I quote:

    “Currently, when you visit Amazon.com from a location that is not assigned to this marketplace we’ll display the price of the marketplace that you are assigned to (In this case amazon.com.au) in US currency.

    “If you visit Amazon.com.au you’ll be able to see that your book is price AUD$3.99, when you visit Amazon.com we’ll take this amount and convert it to USD, this is why we display USD$3.66 on Amazon.com.

    “All U.S.-based readers do have access to the regular price of $2.99, and all publishers from New Zealand and Australia only have the option to buy from Amazon.com.au at the price of AUD$3.99.”

    Now can anyone please tell me, since Amazon to date can’t or won’t, how does this help New Zealand and Australian readers, writers or publishers?

    1. Keith. we’d be very keen to hear if you’ve had any further clarification from Amazon on this.

      And can you confirm what I’m reading from your post – that Amazon are treating New Zealanders as Australians and shunting New Zealanders to the AU store?

      If so that is mind-bogglingly arrogant. New Zealand is an independent country and geographically as far from Australia as Britain is from Russia.

      A glance at the hoops Indian readers have to jump through to buy from Amazon India suggests Australians are probably getting off lightly.

      The AU and India stores typifyhow Amazon totally fails to understand the international markets, and why Google Play, which does “glocalization” well, will leave Amazon in its wake.

      1. I can confirm that Amazon are treating New Zealanders as Australians: we are “assigned” (Amazon’s word) to Australia. And yes, it is mind-boggling.

        I asked Amazon: “Why can’t you send an eBook to NZ for no more than it costs you to send one to somebody in the US?”

        They replied: “On this you are completely right; the higher price is not due to any tax related charge. The price difference is due to the price selected on Amazon.com.au.”

        But the price selected on “com.au” is not selected by me, but automatically by Amazon and allegedly “based on the US price.”

        To have my $2.99 books selling in the “Australian marketplace” at the correct exchange rate, I would currently have to choose manually to have the books selling at $AU3.28, not Amazon’s $AU3.99. But if I did this, my royalty rate for the self-published Kindle eBook editions, over which I supposedly have “control,” would be reduced from 70% to 35%.

        Amazon said on December 12: “…our prices are updated every certain period (automatic by the system) in order to match the current exchange rate.”

        Amazon clearly uses different current exchange rates SIMULTANEOUSLY to boost the prices it charges its customers in what it calls the Australian marketplace.

        For example, at the end of November, I published the book “Ride the Wild Country” at $US2.99 and, “automatic by the system” Amazon converted this price to $AU3.99 “in order to match the current exchange rate,” which immediately became $US3.66 when I viewed the new book’s price on the US site from New Zealand.

        Where did the extra 67 cents creep in? It should have converted back to more or less exactly the same price it started at ($US2.99)? There has not been such a huge swing in the US-AU exchange rate in the past year let alone in one day!

        Amazon’s latest email to me reads in its entirety:

        “Hello, We’re sorry we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. We will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.
        “Regards,
        Maverick
        Kindle Direct Publishing”

        If anyone here can suggest how previously successful mid-list and lower authors can make backlist titles internationally available in eBook editions without falling into Amazon’s traps, I would be pleased to hear from them. If private communication is preferred, I can be reached via “feedback” at “blackhorsewesterns.com”.

    2. Keith, with all the respect you deserve, reading this makes me see that you don’t know much about Kindle Direct Publishing or how Amazon Kindle works.

      My mom have been publishing with them for years now and we understand exactly how it works. Let me explain.

      First, is it obvious that you are part of the Amazon.com.au marketplace, when amazon launches a new market in a location where there’s none, by logic all the countries of that same region will be assigned to the same marketplace. Not because they think New Zealand and Australia are the same, but just because it makes sense.

      For example, currently all central America don’t have a specific marketplace for each of the countries, however, these are to buy Amazon.com as per they are the nearest marketplace. The same happens with Scotland, they don’t have a marketplace, however, they buy to Amazon.co.uk. The same with Holand, they buy on Amazon.fr (I can give some other 12 exmaples). You must understand that this is not idiocy on their side, is misunderstanding on yours.

      Regarding the price, I’ve been dealing with the currency change problem for a while, you know how can that be fixed? Just refresh the prices on your account. You just need to uncheck and recheck the little box for auto generated price on Amazon.com.au and it should give you the most updated price.

      There is something else you must understand, people from New Zealand can’t buy from Amazon.com, which is why I don’t understand you are so aggravated for the price addition. If you try to buy a book on Amazon.com their website won’t let you. it book will display no price at all, People from Australia can only buy from Amazon.com.au as I can only buy from Amazon.co.uk as per that’s the marketplace I have assigned.

      Amazon is a great tool for authors like my mom, and don’t give them credit would be something really selfish.

      After all if you still not ok with them, why don’t you publish with someone else? Isn’t that easier?

      I decided to comment on your post because I’ve been reading about the launch of the Australian Kindle Store and this is the second time I see your complaints.

      Not an attack nor nothing, just an advice from an author’s son to an author!

      Have a great rest of your day, mate!

      1. Thank you for telling me how Amazon works, Felix B. I will now return the favor.

        I have been an Amazon customer and KDP author for several years and your “advice” makes it clear that you do not share this experience.

        Until November of last year, New Zealand buyers of Kindle eBooks had them supplied through the US “Amazon.com” site at the US price converted to New Zealand dollars. Now Amazon have their so-called “Australian” site and we must buy at new, inflated Australian prices converted to New Zealand dollars.

        This is not because of exchange rates or different tax obligations. It is simply because Amazon, as with its UK site, has chosen to surcharge some customers who are outside the US, although they have admitted it costs them no more to service these customers and they do not collect sales tax for the New Zealand Government and are not registered to do so. For example, my latest Kindle $2.99 eBook sells in the Australian region at $AU3.99, which converts back not to $2.99 but to $3.66.

        The internet is international and there is no justification for the different regional prices. If there is any “misunderstanding” or “idiocy” here, it isn’t Amazon’s (they know exactly what they are up to) or mine. It’s yours, Felix.

        And no, I can’t correct the price of my books, as you suggest, by just unchecking and rechecking the little box for auto-generated price on Amazon.com.au. The only way I can return the price of my $2.99 books to $2.99 for Australian region customers is to price them at $AU3.28. If I do this, my royalty rate on Kindle sales will be reduced from 70% to 35%. Those are the Amazon rules. Considering the formatting, presentation (covers, etc.) and promotion work for the independent authors involved in selling eBooks, this loss of income would be unacceptable.

        I stay with Amazon because they have the dominant market share in the US, which is where most of my eBooks sell.

        1. Hello Keith,

          No!, I’m sorry but you are wrong and it is clear that you don’t understand how it works! If you prefer to keep a royalty of 70% then is your own decision to keep your Australian and New Zealander customers paying more for your book.

          The new marketplace was open and you were moved, the prices are just different due to conversion rates! Back again, I don’t get why you are so upset about the price difference on AMAZON.COM if you can’t buy that marketplace, no sense whatsoever.

          I’ve been dealing with the KDP customer service for years now (even before they were named KDP) and you are completele mislead! I’m sorry if it is hard to understand, maybe you should contact the support or check their help pages and you may understand better! The KDP support is highly qualified (as they are the ones that know how everything works) and they may be able to explain in an easier way for you!

          Kindle nor Amazon is treating any customer unfairly! If it is such of a big deal for you maybe you should stick only to paperbacks, like you are used to.

          Sorry for this, but you don’t understand a bit of the platform. Study a little, it will get easier I promise.

          Regards.

          1. Fritz, You are going round in circles on this. I don’t intend to carry on replying to your insulting correspondence other than to say this:

            The prices are not “just different due to conversion rates.” I have already explained this. When setting prices for the Australian market, Amazon converts $US2.99 to $AU3.99. Use the foreign exchange rates for any day in the past year and you will see that this is astonishingly and blatantly inaccurate.

            The higher price for Australian region readers aggravates me because I hate to see the consumers of any product ripped off. I also suspect it is the reason why Aussies and Kiwis are not buying Kindle eBooks, which doesn’t help anyone.

            Please also note that the only reason Aussies and Kiwis can’t buy from the US Amazon site is because Amazon won’t let them.

            I don’t want 70% of $AU3.99 ($US3.66) for my $US2.99 eBooks. I want 70% of $AU3.28, but Amazon says if I set my Australian price at that level I can qualify for only 35% royalties.

            I have had lengthy correspondence with KDP customer service and they don’t want to rectify the situation. They are apparently happy to carry on charging Australian region customers 67 cents more than they charge their US customers. Worse, they cannot, do not, and (apparently) will not say why, despite being asked to explain the policy several times.

  3. Excuse me but I never insulted you, you may consider a better word selection! At the end I believe you should jist let go this situation and just deal with KDP rules! Is better for you! Believe me, they work hard everyday to be able to provide a good price!

    Don’t take that credit from them, be grateful!

    Best wishes on your publications mate!

    Regards,

  4. “Kindle nor Amazon is treating any customer unfairly!”

    Interesting comment, Felix. How do you explain the surcharges that Amazon imposes on buyers in nost countries of the world as fair?

    A buyer in Norway or Poland will be charged $4.99 or more for a $2.99 ebook. The author will get just 35% of the $2.99.

    Amazon dictate to indie authors the minimum price they can list on other platforms. If you least cheaper on another retailer than on Amazon then Amazon threaten to remove your titles from the Kindle store. This is fair?

    New Zealanders used to be able to buy from the US site at the NZ$ equivalent of the US list price. Now they are being charged more and being forced to pay in yet another foreign currency. This is fair?

    And yes it is insulting to suggest that that someone in New Zealand, talking about ther experience with KDP from New Zealand, doesn’t know how KDP works when they’ve just quoted direct from KDP correspondence confirming the situation to be as Keith states.

    Comments like “There is something else you must understand, people from New Zealand can’t buy from Amazon.com,” leave one staring incredulous at the screen. New Zealanders were buying from Amazon.com quite happily UNTIL Amazon introduced the Australia sub-domain site, which operates from… Amazon.com.

    Also leaving us incredulous is your observation “If you try to buy a book on Amazon.com their website won’t let you. it book will display no price at all,.”

    Er, Felix, that’s because you are in the UK and Amazon knows it. It’s a territorial thing. Keith’s point is that until the new Australia went live Keith and other New Zealanders were quite happily using Amazon.Com.

    it has NOTHING to do with what is nearest. Quite apart from new Zealand being a three hour flight from Australia, your distance argument falls flat on its face with a look at the UK and France. Just 21 miles apart but the French cannot buy from Amazon.co,uk now and could not before the Amazon. France site went live. Up until that time they were using the Amazon.com site – and being surcharged.

    We are also amused by your suggestion that the Dutch can buy from Amazon France. Can you show us where in the Amazon help pages is says Holland is part of the Kindle France package? The satellite Kindle stores use language as one of their key directors, hence the Swiss can buy from both Amazon Germany and Amazon France, and Austrians can buy from Amazon Germany while Belgians can buy from Amazon France. The Dutch are lumbered with Amazon.com, with surcharges.

    A final thought:

    “People from Australia can only buy from Amazon.com.au as I can only buy from Amazon.co.uk as per that’s the marketplace I have assigned.”

    Very nice for you, Felix. You live in the UK. Would you feel so complacent if Amazon suddenly reassigned British buyers to to Amazon Mexico or Amazon Brazil and made you pay in Mexican pesos or Brazilian reals, and then hiked the price by half a pound into the bargain?

  5. Back in 2008, when the ebook was still a fairly new phenomenon, The Economist reported that “though they are an improvement on a computer screen, ebook readers remain crude simulacra of books.”

    But the respected British business journal also reached the conclusion that the traditional publishing industry had a lot to fear from the “Amazon juggernaut’s” embrace of new technology.

    Traditional publishing was going to be hamstrung by the physical reality — the weight and dimensions — of books as they had been known for half a millennium. Digital books would reduce costs by eliminating printing, warehousing, shipping and returns. The need for premises and employees in outposts around the world would be gone, together with the differences in the pricing of books that those needs created.

    A distributor like Amazon would benefit hugely from the new technologies’ strengths as the costs of printing and shipping paper and cardboard internationally rose.

    The Economist said: “Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers. As with music, any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient — but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them.”

    Informed authors around the globe rejoiced. The days of middlemen hiking the retail price of their work, and using the excuse of “handling” (i.e. “finger-in-the-pie”) costs to do so, would soon be over.

    Amazon’s assault on the publishing industry under its remarkable boss Jeff Bezos was seen by writers and far-sighted readers as “a good thing.”

    Now all that has changed. Amazon has re-introduced the trad publishers’ old, regional pricing practices. But where the trad publishers had their excuse — they had to pay for and maintain those global outposts to distribute their stocks of printed books, didn’t they? — Amazon has none. Or none that it’s prepared to divulge.

    In fact, Amazon appears to have lost sight of what, in 2008, it appeared to The Economist to have set out to do. With its regional pricing for Kindle ebooks, Amazon has established a fictitious, new “distance” between its indie authors and their readers who live other than in the United States.

    That’s sad, isn’t it?

  6. In fairness to Amazon it;s probably the case that the big publishers who provide the bulk of the sellable content to sites like Amazon AU are insisting on territorial restrictions for their content which may be under contract.

    But this is no excuse for KDP to impose the same limitations on indie authors and small publishers.

    It would e great if a journal like The Economist would take afresh look at how things are changing. It would be great too if more industry blogs would step back from their in-awe reporting of everything Amazon does and take a more objective view.

    What we love about The Digital Reader is that it doesn’t treat Amazon as the all-conquering hero on the digital reading scene.

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