Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adventures in (Not) Book Buying

Sinclair, Linnea - Dock Five 04 - Rebels and Lovers I wanted to buy a book today. I thought it was going to be simple. But oh how very wrong I was.

The book is Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair and it is being released on 23rd March 2010 in mass market paperback with a retail price of US$7.99.

Due to my CFS, I find reading mass market paperbacks to be hard work. I read lying down a lot and it is awkward to hold the pages open and they are still pretty heavy. Also, they tend be squeeze more (and smaller) text onto the page and my brain tends to scream “information overload” and struggle to read it. My preferred reading method these days is in ebook format on my iPhone which is light, easy and I can choose how much text is on each screen “page”. (There are few or no ereaders available for purchase directly in New Zealand, not even the Kindle Amazon now proclaims is international.)

Therefore I was planning to buy myself the ebook of Rebels and Lovers. I have several of Ms Sinclair’s books as ebooks and planned to buy this one the same way.

Each Tuesday (which is Monday in the US) I look up the new book releases on my main ebook retailer’s site. Sure enough, there today was Rebels and Lovers. But hang on, the price is US$10.99. That’s three dollars more than the paperback and I’m not sure I want to pay that much. Due to new release discounts etc, it comes back down to about the same as the paperback price. While I object on principle, after thinking about it for a while, I decide to go ahead and buy.

All right, at this point I have to make a confession. Due to my extreme frustration with ebook geographic restrictions, I do work around this by using a friend’s US mailing address on my online account for this site. It’s always worked before (so long as I don’t pay by credit card which shows up my NZ address) and I don’t feel particularly bad about it as I pay for the book and everyone gets their share of my money, including the retailer, the publishing house and especially the author. In fact, it worked fine yesterday when I bought a different book. I’m not sure on the actual legalities of it, but parallel importing is legal in New Zealand, so I’ve always felt I should be able to buy the books anyway. I’m allowed to import the paper versions into the country, but for some reason not the electronic ones. Bizarre. (Of course, a huge amount of publishing seems bizarre these days.)

But overnight something has been upgraded (I rather suspect they’re checking my IP address now, although I’m not tech-savvy enough to know). Now I get a failure message instead because my “purchase location does not match the address on your account”. Well, that’s bloody annoying. But it may be legal, I admit, but it’s still bloody annoying.

I could buy myself the paperback. But in all honesty, I didn’t want a paperback for the reasons given above. Plus the fact that I have very little bookshelf space these days and I tend to hoard it for my Keeper book. While I really enjoy Ms Sinclair’s books, she qualifies as an ebook keeper for me, not a paper book keeper.

But if I can’t have the ebook, what are some of my other options?

I can buy it locally, through a specialty shop that does parallel importing. That’ll cost me $NZ24.90, which works out at about US$17.80. And with my CFS, I can’t just pop out to shop, so I’ll have to wait until a weekend when Dave can take me or pay a courier charge to have it shipped.

I can buy it from Amazon for US$7.99, but then they’ll charge me US$4.99 for shipping (and if I bought more that one book it would be another US$4.99 for each one so bulk buying doesn’t help), making the total US$12.99 and they tell me it’ll take 14 to 30 business days.

I can buy it from The Book Depository for US$7.73. At the moment they have free worldwide shipping (which I expect will end for people in places like me before too long because I don’t believe it can be sustainable). So price-wise, this is currently my best of my options as I’ll only be paying the US price for the book. They offer a shipping time of around 2 weeks which is better than Amazon.

But remember, I didn’t want a paperback copy in the first place and I can’t decide if I want to read the book enough to buy one.

So right now, I’m trying to decide it I can be bothered dealing with all this just to buy a book. The more I think about it, I suspect the less likely I am to decide to go ahead. That means everyone loses. I don’t get to read the book, Ms Sinclair doesn’t get her royalty and the people who do the hard work at the publishing house have their jobs made riskier because there’s another lost sale.

The whole business is crazy and I’m just getting to tired to deal with it all.

And yes, I’m very annoyed. Because at bottom, all I want to do is read what I expect to be a good book. And I can’t.


Stephen Silk said...

I find the message “purchase location does not match the address on your account” to be a bit bizarre - what if you did indeed reside at your account address and were simply on holidays overseas at the time you wanted to buy? Does that mean you can't until you get 'home'? Senseless indeed.

Marg said...

This is one of the reasons why I am in no hurry to be an ebook reader despite the way I covet one everytime I hear about it.

Kerry said...

Stephen ~ I had exactly the same thought. So if I'm an American on holiday, I can't buy a new book because I finished the ones I brought with me?

orannia said...

*shakes head*

I wish publishers would realize that the global situation and act accordingly, but why would they act logical when then they just act as they are? After all, according to their system, the readers are the users, the bookstores are....