As I’m sure all devotees of the eReader/digital book markets already know, Canadians are now able to purchase their very own Kindle (sans wireless—sort of) without having to resort to covert cross-border shopping excursions.
This very same week, Shortcovers has unveiled a partnership with the Association of Canadian Publishers that will make Canadian-published works available in eBook form to all Shortcovers customers. Many of these books have never before appeared in digital form. Shortcovers is also partnering with Smashwords to provide another retail channel for the vast amount of eBooks available there.
I’m going to leave other bloggers with the critique of the Kindle device itself (Mark Bertils does a great job at index//mb) and focus instead on another key component of eBook adoption: pricing.
As Mark discovered at index//mb:
On the content front, it looks like Canadians are charged a $2.10 premium (after exchange) on most books [for the Kindle]. Amazon is pushing all customers no matter the country of origin to a single destination (www.amazon.com/kindlestore) where price and availability differs based on what country you choose from the drop down menu.
This geographic price differential has been largely attributed to exchange rates, a difficult argument for consumers to accept and particularly challenging when currencies approach parity (as publishers and booksellers well know).
For better or for worse, Amazon has a well-established brand of being the cheapest place to buy books. How well will Shortcovers deal with pricing issues when promoting Canadian books?
I’m not suggesting that the only way to deal with pricing issues is for Shorty to go low, low, low. Undercutting Amazon is a challenge that few other retailers are equipped to take on and it’s likely not the best strategy for sustainable industry practice anyway.
Being the sole vendor of great books from ACP publishers and Smashwords is a great way for Shortcovers to differentiate competitively. Now it remains to be seen how fair (for readers, publishers and authors) pricing will be developed. Subscriptions, bundles, discounted book of the month—opportunities abound to showcase good content and win-over price discriminatory consumers.
Whatever happens, congratulations to everyone who is expanding their eBook programs. It’s exciting to see more players getting into the game (not that I don’t enjoy seeing covers featuring shirtless Fabio type on every eBook site). The time for shirtless Maple Leafs is here!