What Is The Problem With International Ebooks?

This is a cross-posting from The Creative Penn.

This is a bit of a rant from the non-US perspective of ebooks and ebook readers and how crazy it seems to be right now.

On Amazon.com

It is a fantastic development to finally have the International Kindle available. I bought one as soon as it was announced and eagerly await it. I have not even seen a real one yet, and the iPhone is just too small for full on book reading. Books are ridiculously expensive in Australia so I buy mostly from the US Amazon Store anyway (crazy world!). The ebooks are still expensive on the Kindle but a lot cheaper than the print stores.

One example is Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman which I have been wanting to read. It is priced AU$42.50 (US$38) at a business bookstore for the print version. The Kindle version will be US$11.99 (AU$13) so I will be waiting to buy it there.

The Kindle Store is now segregated by the country associated with your account, which I understand has something to do with overseas rights. However, the Kindle publishing platform is still only available for those publishers/authors with US address, bank account and tax number. This basically excludes most publishers and authors in other countries. I currently publish on the Kindle through a friend, and the money goes into his bank account – not the best arrangement but all I can manage to be published on the platform.

This is a big criticism of the International Kindle, and one I hope is soon solved. Opening up to non-US publishers will explode the Kindle content and offer the chance for more sales for publishers, more opportunity to sell for authors and more money for Amazon. I would be fine with being paid by Paypal or even by Amazon store credit if the problem is the bank account.

I have emailed Amazon Kindle about this, and am awaiting a response. I’ll let you know!

On Scribd.com

Scribd is driving me totally nuts because they only allow US residents to actually sell AND BUY on the site, although anyone can load free content there (which I do here).

Firstly, I love Scribd. It’s a great platform but why can’t I sell my ebooks there? I own all the rights to my 3 books, there is no foreign rights problem. I have a Scribd account, I have a Paypal account. It has been in Beta for months now. What’s the problem Scribd? I’m still waiting for a response to my questions.

This is even stranger. I can’t even BUY ebooks on Scribd, despite the format being a downloadable file. This is not a foreign rights issue as I can’t buy self-published books either. I wanted to get “The God Patent” by Ransom Stephens (only $3.95) but get a message saying the store is still in Beta and therefore I can’t buy as a non-US resident. Crazy times.

On Smashwords.com

Go Smashwords! It seems to be the only site to allow truly international ebooks from any author globally. You can publish your books in multiple formats and be paid by Paypal. There is even a multi-language option coming I believe. Smashwords books are also sold on the iPhone through Stanza, as well as through Barnes & Noble ebook store and now Sony has also partnered with Smashwords.

I have written a post on how to publish your book on Smashwords here. It is pretty simple and they have many tools to help you publish, so if you want to get started with ebook publishing, definitely start there!

Can you publish on all of these platforms?

I had this question from a reader, and the answer is “Yes, if you have the digital rights to your books”. If you are a self-published author, or if you haven’t sold the digital rights, you can publish your book wherever you like. I currently sell my ebooks from this website as PDF, on Smashwords in multiple formats, and on the Kindle. I will get on Scribd as soon as I am able. You can do the same! This gets your ebook to as wide an audience as possible. Brilliant!