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Monday, 19 November 2018

13 Reasons Why I Don't Want to Switch from Amazon.com to Amazon Australia

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton



Last week was a mess for many authors, as Amazon appeared to remove thousands of Kindle books from the Amazon.com store. Only they didn't—it was just (just!) that international readers couldn't see the Kindle books.

Authors thought their books were missing.


Readers couldn't find the books they wanted to buy.


Then we found the books weren't missing. It's just Amazon had started geoblocking: checking customer IP addresses, and not permitting international customers to buy from the Amazon.com store. Click here to read an excellent blog post from David Gaughran explaining what happened. Or click here to see my screenshots.

But Amazon messed up. Instead of showing the book page and saying the book wasn't available in the customer's region (as is normal practice on Amazon UK), the books simply disappeared.

Yes, the books could be found in the local Amazon store—in my case, Amazon Australia. But switching to the local Amazon store is not a viable option for many of Amazon.coms international customers. It didn't take me long to come up with 13 reasons why. Or why not:
  1. Existing Kindle Library
  2. More Variety
  3. Better Sales
  4. eBook Gifting
  5. Gift Cards
  6. Giveways
  7. Reviews
  8. Currency Conversion
  9. Affiliate Links
  10. Embed Codes
  11. Kindle Family
  12. Audible Subscriptions
  13. Other Subscriptions
Lets look at each of these in a little more detail.

    Existing Kindle Library

    Switching from Amazon.com to Amazon. com.au means customers run the risk of losing access to their Amazon.com purchases. It shouldn't happen, in theory, but I've heard of people having their entire Kindle purchase history wiped, so anything is possible.

    Last time I checked, my Amazon.com purchases didn't show. Now they do. Amazon assures me it's to my benefit to change, but I disagree.

    More Variety

    Amazon.com has a wider variety of Kindle books available. Well, it did last week. It still does—it's just I can't buy most of them from Amazon.com. I've seen many complaints that customers can't buy specialised books in the Australian store.

    Better Sales

    A lot of sales are only available at the US site, including free downloads.

    Note that only US and UK residents can benefit from Kindle Countdown deals, which is annoying. But switching to Amazon Australia won't get me Countdown deals either, so that's a moot point.

    ebook Gifting

    Amazon US allows ebook gifting. The Australian site does not. You can check this in the screenshots above: the US site has a "Give as GIft" button below the buy button. This is missing from the Australian site.

    Many authors, influencers, and bloggers (including me) like to be able to gift Kindle books to friends, fans, or contest winners.

    Gift Cards

    Amazon US allows customers to buy and give away gift cards. Authors, influencers, and bloggers often use gift cards as an incentive to get readers to perform some action e.g. comment on a blog post, or write a review (but not an Amazon review, as that would be against Amazon's reviewing guidelines).

    Giveaways

    Amazon US allows customers to give away books as a promotional tool. Amazon Australia does not offer this feature.

    Reviews

    Customers have to spend USD 50 per year on an Amazon site in order to be able to review (something I've previously discussed). If I'm forced to move from the US to the Australian site, the time will soon come when I'm no longer able to review on the US site. Reviews have more visibility on the US site, and book promotion organisations require a minimum number of Amazon US reviews before they'll promote a book. Restricting reviewers will make that target harder to meet.

    Currency Conversion

    Many Amazon customers are also Amazon affiliates or Amazon sellers. It makes sense for them to shop in the same currency they earn in. For most people, this is US dollars, because Amazon.com is the biggest store.

    Affiliate Earnings

    I'm an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click one of my links and buy something on Amazon, they'll pay me a commission of around 4% for referring you as a customer. I don't earn a lot in affiliate income, but what I do earn is paid out as Amazon US gift vouchers. I could get paid direct to my bank account, but the minimum payment is higher and much of it would be taken as fees.

    I've also signed up for the Amazon Australia affiliate scheme. It only pays out to Australian bank accounts ... which I don't have, because I'm not Australian. Because Australia and New Zealand are different countries. Like the United States of America and Canada are different countries. It seems Amazon doesn't understand this relatively simple fact of geography.

    Embed Codes

    Amazon offers embed codes so bloggers can embed a sample of a book on their blog post, like this:

    This embed code was copied from the Australian website, but leads back to the US site. That's great for US customers, but means there is no incentive to switch to Amazon Australia.

    Kindle Family

    I don't use Kindle Family, but it is a scheme which allows family members to effectively share a Kindle account. There is a catch: the family has to live together and shop at the same store. So if one family member tries to tell Amazon he or she lives in the US (to be able to access the US store), then the Family is broken and they can no longer share the account.

    Audible Subscriptions

    Audible (Amazon audiobook) subscriptions are still on Amazon US. Yes, customers can transfer them, but that's an added hassle, and one more place for things to go wrong.

    Other Subscriptions

    Some Amazon users subscribe to newspapers or magazines through Amazon US. I saw one person complain that when they tried to switch to Amazon Australia, they were warned their subscription would no longer be available.

    So there you have it.

    13 reasons why Amazon.com's international customers will be reluctant to shift to their local store. I'm sure most international customers will be affected by at least one reason—and that's only the impact of shifting as a reader. There are even more reasons for authors.

    Yes, there are at least 13 reasons why geoblocking international customers is a bad idea.

    Were you affected by Amazon's geoblocking? What was your reaction? Are you planning to stay with the US store, or switch to Australia?


    About Iola Goulton

    Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

    Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has developed the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge, an email course for authors wanting to establish their online platform.

    When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

    5 comments:

    1. Hi Iola - Thanks for the heads-up. I didn't notice a change this weekend, but I have often been automatically flicked to the Australian store. That is, I'll go to buy a book on amazon.com, but when I click to buy, I get a message that says something like 'continue shopping on amazon.com.au' and I need to click that to go through with the purchase. This has already been happening for some time and so far hasn't been a problem. I also still have all of my Kindle library intact. However, not everything is available in the Australian store. Hopefully we won't be stopped from purchasing those.

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    2. One positive I notice, is that amazon.com.au now supports gift cards, but I suspect it is a separate system than amazon.com giftcards. They really need a gifting system that is country-agnostic. This will have an impact on book launch parties, where giving away ebooks and amazon gift cards has been very common.

      It sounds like the people of New Zealand are especially hurt by this. Let's hope Amazon up their game a bit.

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    3. Hi Iola, thank you for this informative post. I made the transfer to Amazon Australia ages ago (before I was serious about writing). I now regret it but don't really know how to change back. The other day I received an Amazon (Amazon.com) gift voucher to purchase the eBook that I will be reading and reviewing for an author on CelebrateLit. I received the voucher by email of course, but when I went into Amazon.com I couldn't use the voucher as the said eBook was 'NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE'!! So annoying! The voucher was only for one American dollar, but that isn't the point - it isn't about the money, I mean who's going to miss a dollar anyway? But I now need to find another way to get this book to be able to read and review, as I definitely cannot buy it via Amazon.com and I haven't seen it on Amazon Australia. Ah grrr! So frustrating.

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    4. Hi Iola, I can totally understand why you don’t want to be forced to use the AU store. I’m happy that the AU store has introduced Prime Memberships. On the weekend I pre-ordered print books at the AU store that are being fulfilled by Amazon US at equivalent prices plus I have free international shipping because I spent over $49. That’s a much better deal than what we previously had when we could shop at the US store and paid international shipping for all physical items. Hopefully the range of physical items fulfilled by Amazon US will continue to expand in the AU store. Thanks for your comprehensive overview of the situation.

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    5. Aargh!! Amazon have stitched us up. Every time we get a small win, they tighten the parameters and we’re back to square one. 🧐

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