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Amazon Won’t Carry Kannada-Langauge eBook, Indian Literary Community Freaks Out

4060703242_6edfc3a465_bRemember back in 2011 when Amazon removed a Maltese-language book from the Kindle, and everyone lost their shit?

It’s happening again, this time in India.

The Times of India, Bangalore Mirror, and other sites are reporting that Amazon won’t let a Kannada-language ebook into the Kindle Store. (According to Wikipedia, there are around 50 million people in the world who speak that language.)

Amazon’s apparent reluctance to allow Kannada e-books on its Kindle platform has angered sections of writers and Kannada groups pitting the Kannada Development Authority, a statutory body, and Kannada Sahitya Parishat, the apex literary body, against the Seattle-based ecommerce behemoth.

The two organisations are gathering details to decide on its next move to get Amazon to respond to the request of writers to introduce Kannada e-books on Kindle.

The spat is showing signs of gaining momentum in the coming days as Amazon India, headquartered out of Bengaluru, is said to be planning to offer books in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam and Gujarati on its e-reader.

While the Kannada Development Authority has written a letter to Amazon, the Sahitya Parishat is consulting experts to guide it in the matter.

"We have written to Amazon requesting it to treat Kannada in the same way as it wishes to treat other Indian languages. We have also asked them to explain why they want to exclude Kannada from Kindle," Hanumanthaiah, the Authority Chairman told ET. "We will decide our future course of action after receiving Amazon’s reply," he added.

My first thought when reading this plaint was to criticize the writers for their entitlement issues, but then I thought it better to explain just how self-centered their viewpoint really was.

For the record, Amazon launched the international Kindle store in 2009, and seven years later it still neglects to support most of the languages on this planet.

Amazon did expand language support in 2013 and added dozens of languages in Europe, but it was far from complete. Amazon left out languages native to Italy, eastern Europe, Africa, the middle East, South America, and Asia.

Hell, Amazon doesn’t even support all of the languages native to its home market, North America (English, French, and Spanish are the sum of the market, yes, but not the only native languages).

And now Indian writers are pissed because their language isn’t supported on the Kindle?

Dude, join the club.

It’s called the United Nations.


image by The Itsy Bitsy Spider

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DavidW August 16, 2016 um 8:04 am

Desiring books to be printed on the Kindle platform seems like a basic request that we have all felt at some point or another no matter what our culture is or where we come from.

I remember my resentment and anger for not being able to read Ghost Story on either the Kindle or Kobo due to geographic restrictions (which now have been lifted). I remember my frustration at not being able to read some 20th century classics. And currently I am aware of the unavailability of the English translation of Mann’s Magic Mountain. At least in my region.

When people are upset about a frustratingly meaningless ban on a book in their language it is a cause for empathy and support. It’s not a cause for the rage and contempt that are on display in this post.

I know that you’ve adopted your tone out of carelessness and probably fatigue and not out of malice. You are a good person. So I appeal to you to rethink your post and the message that it sends.

Sergegobli August 16, 2016 um 9:01 am

@Davidw. well said.

Amazon Deletes Kannada-Langauge eBook, Indian Literary Community Freaks Out | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing August 16, 2016 um 10:00 am

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Shreyas August 17, 2016 um 4:27 am

@david agree with you completely.

My mother is a voracious reader of Kannada books. I have been waiting from past few years to buy her a Kindle. When the first Kannada e-book was launched, I was over the moon.
Sadly the wait continues now.

Nate Hoffelder August 17, 2016 um 7:15 am

That’s no reason to not get a Kindle. You can still read Kannada ebooks on it, you just won’t be able to buy them from Amazon.

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[…] Amazon Deletes Kannada-Langauge eBook, Indian Literary Community Freaks Out The Digital Reader […]

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chandu nagaraj April 12, 2019 um 7:05 am

I just signed this petition:
*Kindle support for the Kannada language *
Will you join me? Click below to find out more, add your name and share:
Thanks so much, Please forward this to all of your contacts to make this happen

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