Australian Bookseller Expands Kindle Amnesty Program
Pages and Pages got a lot of attention earlier this year with their Kindle amnesty program (far more than Microcosm Publishing’s similar program got in 2011), and they’re back in the news again today with a new and improved program. This bookseller, which is located in a suburb of Sydney, is offering a credit for any Kindle traded in when the customer also buys a new ereader.
The offer is open any day of the week (not just one day a month), and to get the credit a customer has to also purchase a Kobo ereader. Why Kobo?
First, because Pages & Pages is now a retail partner for Kobo, but also because the owners respects the firm:
I have long admired what Kobo has been doing with eBooks and eReaders and am a big supporter of their “read freely” philosophy. I watched with great envy as Kobo partnered with other bookseller associations around the world. And am extremely excited that the Australian Booksellers Association is now entering into a partnership with Kobo. We signed up straight away. Kobo was born out of Canadian bookseller Indigo and is now the true bookseller’s choice when come to eBooks and eReaders.
Our Kindle Amnesty had a fantastic reception when we first launched it. It helped to spread the word that the Kindle is an Amazon product that locks people into Amazon and there are alternative eReading devices. What Amazon are doing with eBooks affects readers and bookshops all over the world.
Pages and Pages has always shown skill at generating attention but I’m not sure that this program is going to get many to trade in their Kindle. eBooks still make up a tiny fraction of the Australian market, so I doubt that there are all that many Kindle in use.
I know that I for one would not trade in any non-decrepit Kindle if I were going to be stuck with Kobo; the latter devices are much less pleasant and much more difficult to use. And while I do appreciate that the bookseller is trying to discourage ebook sales on Amazon, just because someone owns a Kindle doesn’t mean they buy a lot of books there.
Pages and Pages was one of the first Australian booksellers to sign up with the recently launched partnership between the Australian Booksellers Association and Kobo, and they are using that partnership to try to beat back Amazon’s recently launched Australian Kindle Store.
Kobo has had retail partners in Australia since 2010, but it was only a few weeks ago that they signed a deal with the Australian Booksellers Association. I don’t think that deal got much attention outside of Australia.
Ebook Bargains UK November 19, 2013 um 12:28 pm
"And while I do appreciate that the bookseller is trying to discourage ebook sales on Amazon, just because someone owns a Kindle doesn’t mean they buy a lot of books there."
Where else would a Kindle ereader user buy mobi format books? Surely the whole point of having a Kindle is because you are an Amazon customer, who only sell mobi.
Nate Hoffelder November 19, 2013 um 12:34 pm
Baen Books, ManyBooks, AllRomance, Zola Books, and any number of ebookstores in Europe that have already switched to a milder form of DRM like digital watermarks.
And don’t forget that we can strip the DRM from an Epub and convert it. There are also free ebook sites like Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive.
Ebook Bargains UK November 21, 2013 um 5:11 am
Fair comment, Nate, but most "normal" readers (not the people who would be reading an industry site like this) don’t know those sites exist, and I doubt would even know what DRM is, let alone how to strip it.
They probably bought a Kindle because they are Amazon customers for other things, and the Kindle provides cheap and easy access to ebooks. Once in the eco-system, there would be no reason to look anywhere else.
Nate Hoffelder November 21, 2013 um 8:43 am
I disagree. Saying that people will stay in the Kindle ecosystem forever is like saying that they will only buy paper books from Amazon, or that once someone has bought an ebook from iBooks on their iPad they are never coming out.
It doesn’t really make sense. Got any behavioral data to back it up?
I think it is far more likely that an uninformed Kindle owner will get interested in reading library books on their Kindle, visit the library’s website, and discover other options for getting ebooks. My library, for example, offers workshops with ereader training. I bet that those workshops are enough to turn an uninformed reader into an informed reader. don’t you?
Ebook Bargains UK November 21, 2013 um 1:31 pm
Inertia is a big consideration. Active readers like us may go to libraries, and libraries do a great job educating people who go there, but the whole point of the Amazon one-click is to prey on the natural inertia / stroke laziness / time constrained / travel-poor who shop online in the first place for those reasons.
Amazon could reach out to far more readers if it chose to sell epub alongside mobi. There’s no technical difficulties from their end and it would mean Kobo, Nook and other device users could shop at Amazon.
The fact that Amazon sticks with its mobi-only downloads, while accepting epub uploads, would suggest they have the behavioral data to back that up.
Anne November 19, 2013 um 3:29 pm
I bought a Kindle reader because at the time of purchase it was the best hardware out there but until the price fixing was put into place, I rarely bought my books there. I was able to get mobi formatted books from any number of retailers. It was my way of trying to support the little guy.
Nate Hoffelder November 20, 2013 um 9:16 pm
The same goes for Amazon’s tablets. I just realized that the only Amazon content on my Kindle Fire HD is the free stuff (apps and instant video). I mostly buy my content elsewhere.
AnthonyA November 19, 2013 um 5:40 pm
They just don’t get it, do they? If you want to beat Amazon, you need to build a better system.
I had a look at their facebook page, they have 1200 likes and under 10 comments about what a good idea this is. Also, I can’t find any comments from blogs or comment sites in Oz about this so I don’t think they are getting much traction.
Pages & Pages also try to make a point they provide face to face customer service which Amazon don’t. Well I can tell you, most face2face cust service in Oz is poor. Our online shopping is a bad joke, so most online shopping here is done on overseas sites. To make a point, Pages and Pages redirects you to Kobo to make an account before you can buy ebooks; mind you, I can’t find a Kobo to buy on their webpage. In contrast, when I got a replacement Kindle direct from Amazon after I broke mine, it was already setup! And it was twice as quick getting to Sydney from the US then from Sydney to where I live, a 90 min drive!
On Pages & Pages, they do have a BeBook for sale for $179 (a basic Kindle is $99). If you click on the link for their BeBook page, you get a page not found! Great way to make your customers happy.
Most Aussies just don’t care about Amazon not paying tax, or being locked into 1 system. If the price is good and the eco-system is easy to use, we will use it.
I do wonder if the numbers for Aus ebooks is correct? Most people with Kindles will be going to US Amazon. Does that actually get counted or just downloads from Australian pages? The Oz ebook websites are just plain crap, overpriced and very hard to use.
Sorry for ranting. I really do want to support my local Australian bookstores, but God they make hard! Trying to guilt trip me into supporting local DOES not work for me and I suspect most of my fellow Ozzies.
Nate Hoffelder November 20, 2013 um 6:48 am
"If you want to beat Amazon, you need to build a better system."
At this point I don’t think they expect to be able to beat Amazon, merely poke it with a toothpick.
"I do wonder if the numbers for Aus ebooks is correct?"
They might not be. Thanks to Amazon selling ebooks globally from Amazon.com, no one really knows what the ebook stats are for any of the national markets. The data is too muddied by the confluence of all the markets.
Ebook Bargains UK November 21, 2013 um 5:04 am
That’s the key, Nate. Obviously a small retailer cannot hope to beat Amazon, and aren’t trying to. It’s about holding their own.
The key reason Amazon does so well in places like Australia is that it got there first with the eco-system of device and content, as part of a much bigger retail offering and on the back of its print book sales reputation. Unlike in most of the world Amazon did not impose surcharges on AU and NZ buyers when using AmCom.
But despite this Amazon’s Australia market has plummeted from 90% plus in 2009 to around 65%, which suggests plenty of Aussies are not impressed by Amazon’s offerings, and while sales volume will increase as more readers turn digital we can expect Amazon’s market share to dilute further.
Pretty much every print book on sale in an Australian bookstore can be bought from Amazon, probably shipped in a similar time, and very likely cheaper, yet readers continue to support bookstores. just as they do in the US and UK. There’s no reason to suppose these readers will suddenly rush to Amazon to buy their digital content. They did so at first because Amazon was very much the only game in town. Those days are long gone.
Amazon is losing market share in the few countries where it got off to a good start (US, UK, AU, NZ), is barely holding its own in the second tranche of expansion (Germany, France, etc) and is having a negligible impact in the more recent additions (India, Brazil, Mexico) because of its prior policy of alienating readers with surcharges (which it continues to do across much of the world) or blocking access completely.
Meanwhile other retailers quietly gather momentum, and those with multiple digital content offerings and international brand recognition like Google Play stand to gain most.
Amazon really needs to rethink its clumsy international stance if it wants the Kindle to compete beyond the key English-language markets where it got off to a head start.
Nate Hoffelder November 21, 2013 um 8:45 am
"But despite this Amazon’s Australia market has plummeted from 90% plus in 2009 to around 65%"
"Amazon is losing market share in the few countries where it got off to a good start (US, UK, AU, NZ), is barely holding its own in the second tranche of expansion (Germany, France, etc) and is having a negligible impact in the more recent additions (India, Brazil, Mexico) because of its prior policy of alienating readers with surcharges (which it continues to do across much of the world) or blocking access completely. "
Got any data to back that up? I haven’t seen any new market research data in nearly a year.