22 Oct 2013

Why Amazon just lost a customer (and should lose more)

I'll have to admit, the first time I ever heard about the issue of pirated books, I scratched my head in confusion. I didn't understand how that was even a thing, because the way I saw it books have always been a non-restricted medium (no shipping restrictions, no customs charge), and I saw no reason why e-books should be any different - if any, they should only improve the situation as you could read the book instantly after purchase. The only restriction I could foresee was that not all books would make it to the e-book format, but then again, those books wouldn't be available to pirate either - so I saw no issue. Until I had a lovely chat with Kindle Customer Support about why a recently published book was not appearing in my Kindle store...

Let me start with this; I'm generally not a huge book reader in the first place. One of the reasons is that I'm more of a fanfiction reader in general, but I also take issues with the concept of a physical book. I hate the way the paper feels on my fingers, I don't like how I have to use a plate or something to hold the book open on the right page while reading at breakfast, partially blocking some of the text, I don't like how I have to decide which books to bring when I go anywhere, because taking too many of them will take up too much space and weigh down my bag. The introduction of reading devices made actual published books more appealing to me, and recently I've taken a bigger interest in actual books. My device is still heavily dominated by fanfiction, but the book collection on it is growing steadily.

One of the book series I've been enjoying for a couple of years is the Nikki Heat series. Partly because I'm a fan of the television show, Castle, and the books heavily ties in with the plot of the show. I bought the first four books without a hitch, the third and fourth directly after their release, so yesterday I decided to go and purchase the fifth book, which had been released just a month ago - only I couldn't find it. Upon further inspection, previous titles that I had bought were now no longer available. All I found were three Spanish translations (which makes no sense) and two audio books. This really puzzled me, so I contacted their customer support to ask what was going on.

The first conversation was of no help, as they basically just told me to try and update my device - and how is a software update going to help with my search results? In the second conversation they asked me where I was located - and that was when I learned that sometime between last year and now, the e-book world had changed. Now, if you've read my rant on region-locking, you already know how I feel about that... It's one of the most frustrating, irritating, not to mention idiotic things in this new, shiny digital world we are living in - and now it has spread to the world of reading.

I was fuming - still am. Because it makes absolutely no sense. I can order the physical copy of the book without a problem, but they are going to deny me the option of buying it digitally? What kind of idiot came up with that idea!? It's so backwards it physically hurts to think about. You'd think they want to actually sell books, not restrict their customer base. And this is a company whose devices come with free 3G internet for the exact purpose of purchasing book whenever, wherever. But how are we supposed to buy books when the company actually denies us access to the books we want to buy!?

Of course, I'm not someone who's just going to lie down and take it.

Firstly this cancels any intention I had to ever get another kindle device - I will stick with the one I have until it dies - and when that happens, I will find myself a completely different reading device. I don't pay for a restricted product.

Secondly, I'm telling all my friends, both in person and online not to purchase a kindle. I will urge them to find a better alternative, a less restricted, more customer friendly alternative. And I will urge them to spread the word to their friends and so on.

Thirdly, I'm not purchasing a single other e-book from Amazon from here on. I will find myself some other alternative that can offer me a format compatible with my kindle device. If  no other store can offer this, I will go a different route. If it means I have to purchase a physical copy of the book as well, just to ensure that the author gets their share, I will - but I will not purchase said physical copy from Amazon.

I do not support a store that intentionally artificially restricts customer service. And I hope any person who reads this entry also rethinks their customer habits. Nothing is ever going to change unless we actually make it change.

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