Publishers and ebooks: *headdesk*

So I just waded through the latest Peter F. Hamilton brick (excellent, by the way) and wanted to move onto the newish Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight. I read everything on my ebook reader, these days. So off I went merrily looking for a copy.

Oh, boy. I'm fairly sure this is recent, I'm sure I've bought stuff from WH Smith's and Waterstone's ebook stores while I was in Canada before, but it appears the gigantic, moronic stupidity that is territory restriction has now reared its ugly head in the ebook publishing world.

So I found copies of the book - that's the exact same text in electronic format, it's just a tiny little text file with some formatting metadata and DRM crap - in various stores. A couple from the UK - WH Smith's, Waterstones - and several from the US, including Books On Board and Diesel. Remember, same text in an entirely electronic format. The UK stores both cost more than 50% more than the US stores (which all seem to cost $9.99), which is just ridiculous. It's the same damn book! I don't care if you blame taxes, import duties, unions or cosmic bloody radiation, that's insane.

So I decide, obviously, to buy it from one of the US stores. No dice - every one I've tried refuses to sell the book unless you have a US billing address. Finally I give up and go with the ridiculously pricey British ones - no dice. Need a UK billing address now. (Not that anyone with their head screwed on would willingly choose UK prices if they could avoid them).

So I go out and search explicitly for a Canadian ebook edition of the book. What do you know - there ain't one. It just hasn't been 'published'. Canada's effectively a monopoly when it comes to bookstores, Chapters / Indigo being the only game in town, and they don't have one. I found a Google search link on Indigo which mentions an ebook edition; if you go to the current version of that page, the link has been disappeared; if you go to the Google cached version and click on the link, you get to a deleted page.

So I just want to buy the damn book, but I am not allowed to buy it from the US or the UK, and I can't buy it from Canada because they haven't 'published' it here. Again, it's a fricking text file. Why does this have to be hedged around with cartel-y nonsense? What do you, the publishers, honestly expect me to do here? Wait, and then pay whatever you decide to charge the captive Canadian market, never mind it being available cheaper to anyone who happens to have an American credit card? Buy a paper copy? Or get it from Bittorrent? I'm not telling you what I'll do, but I'll give you one guess what most people will do. For christ's sake, at least try and pretend you're running a business here. I just want to buy your product!


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