How Online Booksellers’ Exclusionary Tactics Negatively Affect Readers (Or, First-World Problems)

I have an Australian location, a PC, and a PayPal account. Theoretically, I should be able to purchase eBooks easily. Practically? Apparently not.

My investigation today started with reading about Beth Revis’s foray into self-publishing.

“But my biggest motivating factor was a desire to show appreciation for my readers.

I decided to use THE BODY ELECTRIC in two specific ways to thank my biggest supporters. For my readers, I developed a special, limited edition of the book. For the local bookstore owners who championed my books, I made sure that the special features were easily available to readers through them – not the big box counterparts.

I’m working closely with my local independent bookstore, Malaprop’s, to make a limited edition available. Each copy of the book will be signed and numbered in a limited print run and include special content inside and full-color art – and will only be available through Malaprop’s, which will be shipping the book internationally.

Of course, I wanted to make sure my eBook readers had access to the book, too, and not just through the elephant-in-the-room-online-bookseller. So in order to continue to help out local indie bookstores, who often use Kobo to sell eBooks directly, I’m selling the eBook version of the special edition of the book only through Kobo and iBooks. There are more than 30 pages of extra content, including a short story, a history of the world, an author interview, and more.

Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank – the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today.”

I like Beth Revis; she seems a great person. I want to buy her book, and the features “for the people [she] most want[s] to thank – the readers”.

Knowing the print version would be out of my league due to international shipping costs, I visited the online booksellers she mentioned:

-iBooks. Only works with Mac, or mobile phones. Not with PC (even though iTunes works on my PC, so this is odd). Thus I didn’t get far enough to check if they accept PayPal, though I predict the answer is “no”.

-Kobo. Signed up for an account. Got as far as Payment Information. Methods accepted: Visa Credit Card, Visa Debit Card, Mastercard. No mention of PayPal.

I have eBooks, and acquired them legally – when they were temporarily free on Amazon, Smashwords, or Harlequin Books Australia. I’ve never paid money for an eBook, but neither have I acquired one illegally.

Yes, there is a standard edition of Ms. Revis’s book listed at the “elephant-in-the-room-online-bookseller”. But it is not a “special” edition there, because some readers are more special than others. So I’m confused as to how EXCLUDING some fans reflects her “desire to show appreciation for [her] readers.”

It’s not just other non-Malaprop’s/non-iBooks/non-Kobo booksellers being affected here. READERS have the money to purchase eBooks, but apparently do not have the MEANS. My PC isn’t good enough. My PayPal isn’t good enough.

By extension, I am not good enough.

Digital publishing may have helped to level the field for publishers and authors. But for readers? It’s clear to us that we, and our money, are not valued equally.

I want to buy your eBooks. But maybe booksellers, publishers, and authors don’t want me to, and thus place hurdles I can’t jump.

Technology is supposed to bring everyone together, but instead it separates the “haves” from the “have-nots” even more.

Know where you stand.

4 responses to “How Online Booksellers’ Exclusionary Tactics Negatively Affect Readers (Or, First-World Problems)

  1. Hi Tez! I agree with your views re: technology (and Apple). However, Kobo does accept PayPal – the option can be found right under the section where they’d like to have your credit card information. 🙂

    Hope this helps!

    • Thanks, Aavis. I gave that a try, but that option still isn’t showing up in my “Payment Information” section. How long have you had your Kobo account? Maybe when you originally signed up, they had more options, but now they don’t for newcomers 😦

  2. An alternative – I had a credit card already attached to my account but I was able to override that by selecting the option to pay with a Kobo gift card. Then, beneath the place you enter the gift card number, there’s also the option to choose either credit card or paypal. If you can’t see that, then I imagine the web service has detected your browser is operating from an Australian IP address and is deliberately hiding the PayPal option (rather than it being to do with the age of your account – my account is also quite new).

    You may need to look for a US or UK proxy to fool the web service that you’re not in .au land

    • Unfortunately, it really does require a card attached to the account in the first place. Which I can’t do, and wouldn’t feel comfortable asking other people for their details. I’ve sent Customer Care an email about it, so now we play the waiting game…

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