What do Brazil, Canada, and China have in common?

What do Brazil, Canada, and China have in common?

They’ve all recently gotten their own Kindle stores.

I know a lot of people have trouble with the idea that you can’t simply buy everything you want wherever you are anywhere in the world.

At its heart, the issues around that stem from governmental respect for creativity.

Sounds odd, right?

Essentially, most (but not all) countries recognize the right of a person who makes an artistic work (a book, a movie, an app) to control the use of that creation, within certain limitations.

Certainly, one could argue that this isn’t out of a pure heart. The U.S. Constitution’s reasoning for it is

“…to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Nothing there about what some folks consider the “unuseful” arts, like writing fiction. 😉

Whatever the motivation, the right to control copying and distribution is granted.

That means that the author or other creative person can then license the rights to entities that have the means of distribution (in the case of literary works, those have been publishers…but distributing without the use of a publishing company has gotten much easier).

Those rights have traditionally been licensed by market and format. If I’m an author, I would pick the publisher that would give me the best chance for success in, say, Brazil. It might be a different publisher who convinces me that they can market to China better.

That’s part of the issue with getting Kindle content to specific countries.

One of the key things is that sales on the internet are basically considered to take place where the purchaser is, not where the seller is.

If I have not licensed the rights to sell in Australia, and someone in Australia buys my product from my website in the USA, that would be a problem for me (and no doubt the publisher who paid for a license to exclusively sell the e-books in Australia might be the one to surface that issue).

Localized Kindle stores are one easy way to clarify that process.

If you only let customers with Canadian credentials (address, credit card) buy from the Canadian Kindle store, publishers who have licensed rights for that country can be secure that they have made a good faith effort to stay within their agreement with the author.

However, that’s not the only concern for localized stores.

When the Kindle was introduced in the USA in 2007, there were already more than ten EBRs (E-Book Readers) in that market. Sony had one, and they are clearly a major player in consumer electronics. E-books, though, weren’t catching on with the public much…they were, I think, less than one percent of the US publishing market at that time.

The Kindle revolutionized that…and one of the main reasons was the ability to wirelessly download the books. For people who weren’t techies,having to tether your EBR to a computer to get a book was a considerable burden, and a lot of friction.

For Amazon to introduce a Kindle (tablet or RSK…Reflective Screen Kindle) in a market, they need to work out some deal with local 3G or 4G,  unless it’s a wi-fi only device.

So, the barriers to introducing a localized store include:

  • Working out the wireless situation
  • Clearing the licensing situation (and for tablets, that means not just e-books, but ((streaming)) video, apps, and music)
  • Satisfying legal requirements (which may not be that easy, especially for apps…you can’t just export software willy nilly)
  • Setting up for the tax situation
  • Understanding the market there
  • Making content deals with locals (you want to have the most popular books, apps, video and so on)

The decision to create a localized must be complicated.

Now, Canadians can buy directly from a Canadian store…but they were previously buying from Amazon.com.

Americans may now see books in the Canadian store that they want and can’t get…that’s a consideration, certainly.

My gut (not intellectual) feeling is that, yes, I’d like there to be one global Kindle store that sold everything. I know that’s not going to happen, and with the current situation, it would be limited from a lot of content which has been licensed for specific markets. Without a Chinese store, you may not have access to e-books which have been licensed only for China.

This should, though, mean a pile of money for Amazon…that kind of move ought to please investors.

One other thing: this is also likely to mean that Kindle devices will also show up in those stores which aren’t there yet. It might not happen right away, but maybe people in Canada will be able to buy the Kindle Fire there before too long.

Here are links for the three stores:

While Brazil might seem like a bit of an unusual choice, doesn’t it seem like an appropriate place for (the) Amazon? 😉

What do you think? If you are Canadian and have been buying e-books from Amazon.com, how does this affect you? Are you astonished that Amazon brought Kindle books to China…a place about which some publishers may feel uncomfortable, due to a concern about their enforcement of copyright laws? Do you think Amazon will ever get Kindle content to be available throughout the Middle East? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

2 Responses to “What do Brazil, Canada, and China have in common?”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    One other thing that slows adoption of “national” kindle stores is language, which may be fairly straight forward for westernized languages, but more complex for non-alphabetic languages. In some locales there is going to be resistance to the presence of an entity that could be perceived as “diluting” local cultural “values” (for some reason France comes to mind here 😀 ).

    Some of your other points revolving around “rights” attached to national borders will I fear have to come to grips with the essentially borderless internet. This is not just confined to books or issues of “intellectual property”. Things like buying prescription drugs from Canada (where they are much cheaper) is another example where national borders get in the way of the free functioning of markets.

    Technology is constantly now exposing market inefficiencies that disrupt long pre-existing business arrangements. Amazon itself is a good example of the use of technology to exploit inefficiencies in market structures.

    I suspect that many of the nation state arrangements disrupting free trade like certain patent and copyright rules are going to fall by the wayside — as the internet makes many of these things difficult if not impossible to enforce.

    As evidence of some of these trends I point to the recent EU attempt (successful I think) to bring all patent and copyright rules under a single regime within the community. Another incident furthering this is the collapse of negotiations in Dubai to craft a new ITU treaty that would have placed the internet under more nation state control. Another is the case currently before the US supreme court dealing with textbook importation, and the “first sale” doctrine.

    As I’ve said before technology has a way of trumping rules and regulations — especially when they stand in the way of what most people wish to do — no matter what the legal or moral imperatives might be. Whatever rules emerge out of the current tumult will have to be aligned with what people would be willing to accept.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      The language issue was definitely there for India, and it allowed the Infibeam Pi to establish itself there:

      http://www.infibeam.com/Pi

      As to governments having to meet what the people will accept…well, that’s not always the case. Would a government be overthrown because they attempted to block e-book availability? My guess is that it is much more likely that a black market would be present (perhaps like Samizdat under the Soviet Union).

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