National & Regional discrimination by publishers

When I read the articles like this one: “Are US Publishers Using E-books to Undermine Territorial Rights?” – I can think only of two things:

  • Regional (or even racial) discrimination actively implemented by publishers
  • Unwillingness to change under the pressure of globalization

What kind of underdeveloped person you have to be, to say the following: “If you can prevent a cardholder from buying an American print edition, you can do the same with an e-book.”. You cannot prevent anyone from buying “American” print edition. I can do that easily, just by going to the same amazon.com.

And I pretty much understand what the person has in mind by saying: “It would upset the whole publishing dynamic if one let the digital edition seep into another market.” – we (publishers) would have less to do, less money earned and finally our business can disappear as such.

However there are couple other things that I do see, which is common to all the publishing industry (including movie, etc.):

  • Technically speaking people in different regions are discriminated by not allowing them to acquire the goods on a better price. In many cases you can see that “The rest of the world edition” costs multiple times more than “American edition”. What is it that I’m forced to buy more expensive product? Am I greener than those in “America” or what?
  • On multiple occasions you can see that products (books, movies, etc.) may be available in “American edition”, but not in Lithuanian, Croatian or whatever else “smaller country edition”. Once again, I’m not a native English speaker, but still I enjoy movies and books in English. Is there any problem? Why I’m not allowed to buy those?
  • Everybody wants to get rich, right? So, why not to charge 5 times for the same thing? Remember the DVD’s. Everything is done to claim more money for the same thing (book, movie, etc.). It is like a firm monopoly on charging multiple times for the same thing. And can anyone tell me, why I’m in the “Region 5”? Well, I don’t like to be 5 …

Today, internet and globalization changes many things: from creation, to production, to delivery. I’m buying the books (or e-books) in the markets, where those are cheaper or available. The same applies to movies. It seems that Blu-ray is going to die before birth and at the same time HD content is available online for streaming or even purchase. And again, internet makes these available to anyone on this planet with an internet connection.

Publishers can try to play old games, but those are not appropriate anymore. If people cannot buy something in one place, they will buy it in another – half a world around. If they will not be able to buy for a reasonable price there – they will just download it.

Charles Darwin said once:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

So the publishing industry either will adapt to the situation or will be extinct.

That’s all.

Kindle Wireles 3G in Lithuania

I bought Kindle DX and Kindle 2 February this year (2010). The only way I could purchase and download the books, was to do it through computer. Though it was OK, still it was suboptimal. Last week I’ve requested some information from our local GSM operators regarding the situation with Amazon.com & Kindle 3G (see special blog post).

This week some strange things started to happen:

  • First, a friend of mine reported that @AmazonKindle claims that 3G is working in Lithuania
  • In fact, if you go now (2010.08.03 00:00+0300 Smile) and view country specific information for Lithuania – it sais:

image

However, on the GSM map – the situation is following:

image

As you can see – Lithuania is purely white, which means – no coverage. At the same time my Kindle DX doesn’t find any network.

So, dear Amazon, please verify the information before publishing it and please – work with AT&T and local operators (it seems that Bite will be the one providing service) to make the service available.

Customer service: Bite vs. Omnitel

[Translation of the previous blog post]

Because I’m an owner of Amazon Kindle, actually I have both – Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, I was curious why we don’t have 3G on Kindle. The same question was raised by my colleagues, friends, which have or plan to buy Kindle. Strange indeed, when mobile penetration in Lithuania is ~150%, which means ~1.5 mobile phone per person, and we are FTTH leaders worldwide – cannot receive simple service. According the numbers it seems that we are gadget/geek country, and when one person has ~1,5 mobile phone – selling voice plans is most probably a hard business. It seems that one should think about delivering additional data services. Kindle data services could be one of those, but it isn’t.

On this occasion I’ve sent an e-mail to info@ addresses indicated on Bite and Omnitel respective pages, and pointed out, that I am planning to disclose the answers on my blog (which I’m doing right now). Questions were simple:

  • Why it is impossible to use 3G on Kindle devices?
  • Do you plan to agree with Amazon and provide the ability to use all device benefits?
  • When it will happen?

It didn’t take a while to receive the response.

Omnitel "admin" responded with the message of the following content: "We do not plan selling these devices, therefore we do not plan providing any support". Talking about customer service it is to put it mildly double rubbish:

  • The response itself is nonsense. How device sales are related? I can buy it from Amazon without help from Omnitel. Aren’t they interested in potential revenue for data services, especially when the logistics here is minimal. After such answer you feel like hit with the soppy cloth straight into the face. Maybe they didn’t understand? They could clarify. Maybe they are planning to sell iPad’s, but I’m not asking about those. And by the way, I’m not planning to read books on a computer screen. And also, there are rumors, that one of the popular programs on the iPad is – Kindle Reader Smile
  • The answer from "admin" also isn’t promising a lot. First of all – source is almost anonymous, i.e. you never learn who is he and what is his role in the company. And of course no chances to discuss the question in more detail. All internet is buzzing that the communication with customers must be more interactive and personal, then this case is total opposite of that.

The response from Bite was a double surprise. First of all, I’ve received a phone call from Raminta, company’s representative for public relations (PR Smile). I think, it was right, because I wrote in my e-mail that it will go public. During the call she was interested how urgent is my query. Just few hours later I got e-mail with the response (approximate translation follows):

"We are negotiating with Amazon.com service provider AT&T regarding Kindle service already for a long while, but because a small customer number and market potential all negotiation attempts were vain.

We continue to persist and hope that this service will be accessible to our clients"

Immediately you can see several differences:

  • Communication is personal and immediate
  • PR representative sorted out situation and responded adequately
  • Response was comprehensive and adequate. It doesn’t mean that I’m happy with the situation, but knowing the fact that Kindle users are not forgotten – is at least not disappointing

Summarizing:

  • Omnitel #FAIL (somehow nothing new)
  • AT&T #FAIL (again, as always)