Posts Tagged ‘eBooks’

Priors Gardens – the story of the book

07/01/2012

The last two days have been busy with work and helping JTO publish her novel, Priors Gardens, on the site of Mr Amazon. You can get it here. Buy it. I shall post a review here when I have read it.

I am particularly pleased to see the publication of this book as I had the idea of writing the story in the first place. First thanks for their help in this project got Austrian Airlines. JTO and I were due to go to Sofia for a meeting of the Economic Affairs and Development Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. JTO had to present a report to the Committee on the work of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the previous year. The committee didn’t normally meet in Bulgaria, it was usually Paris or Strasbourg, but it had gone to Bulgaria at the behest and invitation of its new Chair, who was Bulgarian. Anyway, there was a delay to the RailAir coach to Heathrow but we arrived at Heathrow with enough time to check-in for the flight. Or so we thought. We got to the right check-in desk to find a massive long queue and whilst a number of us were still waiting to check-in the airline closed it. We went over to their desk to complain and find out what they would do to get us on the flight to be treated very rudely and told we did not get to the check-in in time so it was our fault. Something they continued to keep up when we complained in writing. We have never flown with that airline since and have no intention of doing so again. There was nothing to do we had to wait for the next flight at the same time the next day.

We didn’t want to go home to Reading and face the same problem with traffic the next day so we decided to book into a hotel in Paddington so we could get an early train the next morning to make our flight. We popped into the office but as we were supposed to be in Bulgaria there was nothing for us to do. So we headed back to Paddington. In the middle of Spring Street, across Praed Street from the station was an Italian restaurant which we had been to before and enjoyed eating at.(Though I notice it has recently closed. The photo is of the view across the road from the restaurant.) During the meal we got round to talking about JTO being from West London, it being on the Central Line and, having nothing to do for the afternoon, I suggest that we go and visit South Ruislip. In parenthesis I think I should add that around this time we had visited Leighton Buzzard where JTO grew up, Durham, where she went to university, and Liverpool, where I went to university.

After finishing eating we walked to Lancaster Gate tube station and took the Central Line out to South Ruislip tube station. Coming out of the station and crossing the West End Road brings you to Great Central Avenue. The fourth turning on the right is Priors Gardens, our destination. This was the first home Jane’s Parent’s had and where she spent most of the first seven years of her life, attending the Bourne Primary School which was just at the end of the road.  At 12 Priors Gardens was the house and the people who lived there then were kind enough to let us have a look round the garden which brought a lot of memories back for JTO.(The picture shows the side of the house behind JTO.)

The houses in the estate between the railway lines and West End Road, along with the school, were built after the end of the Second World war, in the middle of the 1950’s, as part of the then Conservative government’s housebuilding programme. As a result the first tennants for these new family houses were from the local council waiting list and were in a similar situation. JTO told me about the two houses next to hers which both had a family which both had a girl the same age as JTO. Whilst walking around the area, trying to find the place where other family members had lived we talked more about what happened to the two other girls, the one next door who was the daughter of a Polish fighter pilot (and here) in the war, who went into the police and became known in the 1980’s, and the girl who lived on the other side of her. Three girls born in the 1950’s in the middle of the boomer generation, who later went on to do things. A story of women in the second half of the twentieth century. I said it just had to be a book as it was a terrific story. That was the start for the book. To find out more about the story buy the book.

You can sometimes get what you want

14/12/2010

Teh majik of teh internetz woirkz wondrz.  Further to my complaints about bookshops refusing to sell me eBooks whilst selling me a physical bookThe Book Depository, (here and follow the link for posts passim on this matter) yesterday I had a comment from Kieron from bookdepository.co.uk on a previous post:

Hi, read about some of your issues with UK booksellers with interest and wondered if you’d tried bookdepository.co.uk? We’re the largest dedicated online bookseller in the UK and ship free to over 100 countries around the world (France included of course), we do sell ebooks too, which are limited by IP rights, so for France most should be okay. We haven’t signed any agency agreements however so some (Hachette etc) titles are currently unavailable. All the best Kieron

I hadn’t been aware of the website before but I am now.  As well as having eBooks for sale they also have a lot of eBooks you can try for free and then buy them if you like them.  An interesting idea with eBooks and an approach which matches mine in that if I like an eBook and expect to want to read it again I buy a copy of it, usually in hardback if possible.

I am having a few days in the sun for the New Year and will require reading material for the trip so the Book Depository you’ll have yourself a customer.

Santa Claus is coming to town

My last post was of the Bruce Springsteen version of this song.  Subsequently I’ve re-established contact with an old friend from school who has suggested this to me:

Europe’s on the case.

04/12/2010

I have written before about UK sellers of eBooks refusing to sell me an eBook whilst the same retailer will sell me a physical book.(start here then here, here, here, here and here)

In one of those pieces I wrote that I had written to my Euro MEP about the problem.  I’ve now had a reply and this is it:

“Dear Mr XXXXXXXXXXXX,
Unfortunately Catherine bearing also local mandates in Strasbourg, she’s evermore busy during plenary sessions there!
However she’s deeply aware of such difficulties, which are indeed related to a fragmented copyright system across Europe, as highlighted by Malcolm. Business models being somewhat different from your “analog” book” to the eBook in terms of which part of the value chain gets what from the price you pay, this is by the way a trickier issue than it may appear, yet of course not unsurmountable. Commission is meant to release legislative proposals soon in 2011, and there are plenty of MEPs willing to make things easier for the European consumers.
Kind regards,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Parliamentary assistant
Bureau parlementaire de Catherine Trautmann
Altiero Spinelli  14G201
60 rue Wiertz, Bruxelles B-1047
Tel +32 (0)2 284 54 25
Fax +32 (0)2 284 94 25″

It is reassuring that the European Commission is due to release proposals on this early next year.  I will be watching for them and will publicise them here when they do.  This letter is also the first time anyone has bothered to tell me that the business model and, in particular, the fact the money I pay for an eBook is allocated in a different way to what happens  with a physical book.

One of the retailers who has taken the decision to refuse to sell books to me had the bad manners to write to me offering a deal on an eReader and information about deals on eBooks I cannot buy.

Weekend deal - Elonex 500EB for only £69.99!

Welcome to the latest eBooks newsletter, XXXXXXX

Until midnight on Sunday 5th December, we have an exclusive online offer on the Elonex 500EB eReader – a real bargain at just £69.99. Get your order in while stocks last. This week we also feature some of this year’s biggest eBooks at great prices, including Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington, and the brilliant Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. There are also great savings on our range of eBooks under £3, and our featured author this week is the fabulous Charlaine Harris.

Happy eReading from Kate at Waterstones.com!”

An email has gone to them pointing out the poor taste they displayed and asking them to remove my name from their mailing list as they refuse to sell eBooks to me.

A Christmas Carol

No, not the Charles Dickens story about Scrooge but the song by the great 1950’s and 1960’s satirist, singer and songwriter Tom Lehrer. (here and wiki)  The man who wrote a song about the periodic table and gave it all up to concentrate on teaching mathematics and music theatre.

 

 

 

You can’t always get what you want

19/11/2010

Anyone reading here regularly will know, if not be a bit sick, about WH Smith and Waterstones stopping me from buying eBooks. (For the uninitiated who have a life-time to waste start here then here, here, here and here.)

Basically.  I love reading books and buy them.  I also have a eBookReader which allows me not to lose my shoulder from carying a bag full of books when I go on visits or to work abroad.  I used to buy eBooks from the above mentioned shops but in September they wrote to me telling me that for legal reasons I could no longer buy eBooks from them. (I am always suspicious of people who justify things they do by saying it is for legal reasons, I think they usually say that when there isn’t really any other reason.)

Anyway todays pictures are of a package that arrived for me today in the post.  No prizes to the eagle-eyed ones amongst you who identify that it is a book.  Yes, well done.  I’m afraid no prizes for the even more eagle-eyed ones amongst you who notice its from Waterstones.  Yes. I can buy a physical book and pay for it to be packaged and delivered to me here in France but I cannot buy an eBook sent by nasty electrons through wires.  Bunch of useless Canutes. (wiki)

The title of this post comes from a Rolling Stone song.  The most eagle-eyed of the lot of you will have noticed the book I bought is the autobiography of Keef.  Enjoy.

The Social Network

18/11/2010

Anyone know who Malcolm Harbour is?  No?  Well before today me neither.  I now know he is the Chairman of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament.*  Today he did a live Q & A on the Facebook page of the European Parliament.  You can see a screenshot of the page on the left.

I took the opportunity to ask him a question about book sellers refusing to sell me a digital eBook when they will send me a physical book.  (See here,here, here and here)  You can see the question below.

He was quite quick to reply to me and his answer can be seen below.

It is pleasing to read that the committee is keen to make progress on these issues and that they will be producing proposals to try and deal with some of the problems inhibiting a true single market.  The European Parliament will be in town next week and I have a lighter week and I hoped to see my MEP whilst they were here.(One of the developments I talked of cryptically at the end of the last piece)  I will now write to Mr Harbour, copying the previous posts from here to him and see if I can get a meeting whilst he is in town.  I will post here details of what happens.

*I now also know he is the Conservative MEP for the West Midlands in the UK.


Hanging on the…….

16/11/2010

Regular readers will know that I’ve been taking up with various people the removal by Waterstones and WH Smith of my opportunity to buy eBooks because I live in France.(here, here amd here.)

At the weekend I wrote to fellow blogger and publisher Iain Dale and soon after he would have received my email he wrote about eBooks here.  Coincidence?  Reader you decide.

I mentioned in the last post that I’d written to the Publishers Association and at the same time I wrote to Mr Dale I wrote to them chasing up a reply to my letter.  I’ve now had one and I’ve included it below:

Dear Mr Tattersall,

Thank you for your email to the Publishers Association about the issue of Waterstones and WHSmith removing their e-book sales service from customers outside the UK and Ireland.  Please allow me to apologise for the delay in responding to your email.

Publishers want to enable as many people as possible to access their books – after all, selling books to a wide audience is what their business models are based on.  It is in every publisher’s interest to ensure that their e-books are available to as many potential customers as possible.

When a book is available for UK customers, the publisher will always have the rights to sell it in the EU.  It is not possible to gain UK-only rights, as a result of the regulations governing the EU internal market.  Therefore, any book which is legally available for sale in the UK and Ireland through a site such as Waterstones or WHSmith can legally be sold to customers residing in other parts of the EU.

Separate rights arrangements are in place for non-EU countries and may be negotiated country-by-country between the author of the work and publishers.

Many online retailers have been successfully making e-books available to international customers and there are new retailers entering this market all the time.  The vast majority of these platforms have systems in place to ensure that the correct currency is displayed for the country in which a customer is resident, that the correct levels of VAT are applied for that particular jurisdiction, and that the geographical location of the customer can be verified.

It may be that Waterstones and WHSmith do not have the appropriate systems in place to able them to ensure that each transaction is appropriately managed for the country in which the customer is resident, meaning that they have had to make a commercial decision about which countries they are able to supply.

As a result, these retailers have taken the decision to halt the sale of e-books to markets other than the UK and Ireland until such time as they have the systems in place to process cross-border tax implications of the sales, to process transactions in local currencies, and also to ensure that they are selling works into countries for which the publisher has the legal right to do so.

Publishers are working with retailers across the board to ensure that e-books and physical books are available to the full range of international audiences and will continue to work towards a solution on this issue with Waterstones and WH Smith.

Kind regards,

Emily

Head of Policy and Communications

The Publishers Association Limited

29B Montague Street

London

WC1B 5BW

I think that’s a hmmmmmmmm answer.  I’m busy over the next few days but there are some things I’ll be doing over the next weekend to take the matter further.

You can get it if you really want

11/11/2010

Previously on The Flashing  Blade, I wrote twice (here and here) about the decision by WH Smith and Waterstones to stop selling eBooks to people not living in the UK after pressure, they claimed, from the publishers.

Not long after I got sent an email detailing a number of special offers from WaterstonesJTO had told me some of the stories from newspaper serialisation of the Keef Richards autobiography and it sounded interesting.  I just hope it is not the case that all the intersting stories are in the newspapers and there is nothing left for the book.  Anyway as Waterstones had the book available for half price and even with post it would still be cheaper than I could get it here in France I ordered it.  Guess what?  No problem.  Here is the email they sent me:

Home I Wish list I Newsletter sign-up I Store finder
Waterstones.com
Thank you for your order
FREE UK delivery plus FREE, no-hassle returns*
New titles Coming soon Bestsellers Offers eBooks Used books Events Waterstone’s CardWaterstone's Card
Dear The Flashing Blade,  

Thank you for shopping at Waterstones.com.

Here are the details of your order:

Order number: #3982357

Qty Author Title Price
1 Keith Richards Life £9.39

SubTotal: £14.37
Shipping & Handling: £4.98
Total: £14.37

Waterstone’s Card / Waterstone’s Gift Card / e-wallet
Please note that the total value shown above is before any Waterstone’s Card point redemptions, Gift Card or e-wallet contributions were taken into account. Where these were used, they will be deducted from the amount above before your card is charged.

This order will be billed to:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Strasbourg
FRANCE

This order will be shipped to:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Strasbourg
FRANCE

You chose to have your order shipped by SURFACE MAIL.

We’ll email you again to let you know when your order has been sent out.

You can check the progress of your order by signing into your account on Waterstones.com and clicking on ‘My Orders’. Or if you have any other questions please check out our Online Assistant or our Help pages.

If you’re unable to find an answer this way, feel free to email us at service@waterstones.com or contact us using this link.

Thank you again for shopping at Waterstones.com.

Customer Service Team
Waterstones.com

OK, I got away with that they will realise and not send me the book, informing me that because I live outside the UK I cannot buy books from Waterstones.  Then I received this:

Home I Wish list I Newsletter sign-up I Store finder
Waterstones.com
Your order is on its way
FREE UK delivery plus FREE, no-hassle returns*
New titles Coming soon Bestsellers Offers eBooks Used books Events Waterstone’s CardWaterstone's Card
Dear The Flashing Blade,  

Thank you for shopping at Waterstones.com.

Your order has now been shipped and should be with you soon.

Order number: #3982357

Qty Author Title Price
1 KEITH RICHARDS Life £9.39
SubTotal: £9.39
Shipping & Handling: £4.98
Total: £14.37 

Waterstone’s Card / Waterstone’s Gift Card / e-wallet
Please note that the total value shown above is before any Waterstone’s Card point redemptions, Gift Card or e-wallet contributions were taken into account. Where these were used, they will be deducted from the amount above before your card is charged.

This order will be billed to:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
STRASBOURG
FRANCE

This order will be shipped to:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
STRASBOURG
FRANCE

You chose to have your order shipped by SURFACE MAIL.

Just to let you know that while most items arrive within the standard delivery times, Royal Mail delays do occasionally happen. So we ask that you please allow the following length of time before contacting us to report an item missing (unless you have chosen courier next day delivery):

UK deliveries – 10 days
Overseas deliveries – 21 days

If you chose collection from store please take a copy of this email confirmation or the order number and one form of ID.

Please note: All outstanding items in your order will now be shipped to you as soon as we receive them from our suppliers, and no further shipping charges will be payable on these (unless you specified ‘Immediate Delivery’ as your shipping method). You will not be charged for any item until we have shipped it to you.

If you have any other questions please check out our Online Assistant or our Help pages. If you’re unable to find an answer this way, feel free to email us at service@waterstones.com or contact us using this link.Thank you again for shopping at Waterstones.com.

Customer Service Team,
Waterstones.com
Please do not respond to this email, as this address is unable to accept any incoming email correspondence.

Waterstone’s Booksellers Limited. Registered Office Address: Capital Court, Capital Interchange Way, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 OEX. Registered in England, Registration No:610095

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So.  I’m not allowed to buy an eBook from Waterstones because of threatened leagal action by publishers but I am allowed to buy an old fashioned paper and cardboard book from the same people and have it delvered to me in the post.  What nonsense.  I’ve already commented about the nonsense of this on the bottom of a story about the silliness of the publishing industry on the Economist.  Next week I start to hit more sites about this.

I wrote to the Publishers Association about this on 29th October but they have not bothered to send me a reply yet.  I think two working weeks is sufficient for any organisation to respond to correspondence, especially an email.  If I have not had a reply by the end of business tomorrow I am going to write to them again and post the correspondence here next week.

eBooks – The digital Uptake; An International Perspective

02/11/2010

On Sunday I wrote about WH Smith and Waterstones refusal to sell me an eBook because my billing address is outside the UK, the latter saying it had been done as a result of legal pressure.  To remind you the email from Waterstones said the following:

From: info <info@waterstones.com>
To: info <info@waterstones.com>
Sent: Tue, 26 October, 2010 16:26:08
Subject: eBooks from Waterstones.com

Dear Customer,

We see from our records that you have previously purchased an eBook from Waterstones.com whilst having a registered address outside of the UK and Ireland.

We regret that  with immediate effect, we are no longer able to sell  eBooks to customers placing an order from anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland.  We have had to take this action to comply with the legal demands of publishers regarding the territories  into which we can sell eBooks.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience  that  this may cause.

Please note: Your previously purchased eBooks are not affected by this and will still be available in your ‘Digital order history’ in your online account.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service

In reply I wrote to them the following:

Dear Waterstones.com

Thank you for this email but I’m sorry I do not understand what you are doing.

Which publishers have taken legal action to stop you selling books, particularly eBooks outside of the UK and Ireland?  Can I still buy other books from you?  If not why can I buy them from Amazon in the UK, America or anywhere I please but not Waterstones?

Yours faithfully

Andrew Tattersall

In reply I received the following email:

Waterstones.com
Customer Service
Free UK delivery*
New titles Coming soon Bestsellers Offers eBooks Used books Events Waterstone’s CardWaterstone's Card
Dear Andrew, 

Thank you for your email.

I would like to inform you that our digital publishers have blocked eBook sales to international destinations outwith the UK and Republic of Ireland. Until we have permission to sell beyond these borders you will, unfortunately, be unable to purchase eBooks from Waterstones online. I do apologise for this current situation. I have raised your query with our Head Office for their consideration and hope to contact you soon with more information..

Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.

Kind regards,

Devon Walsh
Waterstones Customer Service
http://www.waterstones.com

 

As you can see they said they would forward the query to Head Office so I thought I would wait to see if I got an answer from them and yesterday this arrived:

Dear Mr Tattersall,

Thank you for your email. Waterstone’s is a UK based bookseller and bound to honour the rights agreements of the publishers that supply us. To comply with international publishing rights agreements we have removed the ability for overseas customers to download eBooks from Waterstones.com. We apologise for the inconvenience, and will pass on any comments to the relevant publishers.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service

As you can see from here just their stanard email sent out to everyone and no attempt to reply to my questions.  So I have emailed them back making my questions in my email more explicit.  I have also emailed the Publishers Association to ask them about what is happening.

In the you couldn’t make it up department we find this years ‘International Conference’ for the Publishers Association is ‘The Digital Uptake; An International Perspective”  The international perspective that I can see is don’t try buying an eBook from an British bookshop or we’ll sue your arse.

Brought to book

31/10/2010

Every Summer for the last three years I have gone away for an amount of time to work in the UK.  People in France tend to go away for up to a month and it is either the month of July or August so there is little work for me here.  People from all over Europe, and further afield, send their children to schools in the UK to improve their English and this means there is a demand for people who can teach the little darlings English.  Each time I have worked I buy myself something from the money I earn.  Usually it is something quite expensive that I would otherwise not have the money to afford.  The first time it was a new came Large book storage ra like the one pictured, except being a child of the 80’s it was black.

Last year I bought a Sony Reader.  I didn’t do so because I prefer it to books.  I don’t think the various form of eBook readers mean the end of the printed page.  Why is it that there is a bipolar choice, books or Reader?  To read some like Norm, or David Hepworth or Andrew Collins in The Word making great pronouncements that it is the book for them not the Kindle.  Hey, I too love getting and reading new books.  Form the time of ordering to the time Mr Amazon arrives at the door with my new delivery is a time of excitment and expectation for me.  I wrote about my recent visit to Bristol and how a visit to a book shop for a particular book resulted in me leaving with about five extra books I hadn’t intended and I came a way with two more from a record shop.  So you don’t have to convince me I love books.

So why buy a book reader?  Over thehttps://i2.wp.com/www.southampton.ac.uk/catering/images/Area%20Images/LibraryBooks.jpg last few years I have travelled up to ten times each year.  I like to read when travelling and the extra weght of the pile of books can make quite a difference, especially if going for up to eight weeks as I do when I work in the UK.  It is much better to get some eBooks and read them.  If it is a book by an author I like and expect I will want to keep I usually try to get a hardback version of the book and read it at home.  If I do not know, or if previously I would have bought a paperback version of the book then I might as well get an eBook and read it whilst travelling.  If I decide I like it and want to keep it I can then get the hardback copy.  So for over a year that is what I’ve done.

Not any longer.  The two partner stores on the Sony Reader site where you can buy your eBooks are WH Smith and Waterstones.

I have previously bought books from both shops online.  On 15th September I received the following email from WH Smith:

WHSmith
Dear Customer 

Thank you for your custom at WHSmith’s eBook Store. Today WHSmith eBooks has moved – we’re now at WHSmith.co.uk/eBooks

At WHSmith.co.uk/eBooks you’ll find:

  • Thousands of eBooks in ePub and PDF formats and eAudiobooks
  • More great eBook offers
  • The Richard & Judy Book Club exclusive to WHSmith
  • As well as millions of Books, Stationery products, Magazines and Gifts.
Within one week we will move your account and Bookshelf to WHSmith.co.uk. If you already have an account with WHSmith.co.uk we will associate your eBook Bookshelf with that account; we’ll match them up using your email address.
In the meantime you can continue to access your Bookshelf at eBooks.WHSmith.co.uk. If you have queries about your WHSmith Bookshelf please contact our customer service team.
Please Note: 

  • If you have Mobipocket or Microsoft Reader eBooks in your Bookshelf please download these by 22nd September as from then on they will no longer be available to access.
  • If your credit card billing address(es) is outside the UK we’re afraid we will not be able to sell you eBooks from WHSmith.co.uk/eBooks. This is due to taxation and contractual issues. We hope to serve you again in the future.
We assume you would like to hear about WHSmith offers by email. If you would prefer not to, please click here.
Thanks again for your custom. We look forward to serving you at WHSmith.co.uk/eBooks.
Yours faithfully

As you can see from the text in red I am not able to buy books from WH Smith because I live outside the UK.  OK then I’ll have to do with Waterstones.  You’re ahead of me here aren’t you.  On Tuesday I received the following email from Waterstone’s”

“Dear Customer,

We see from our records that you have previously purchased an eBook from Waterstones.com whilst having a registered address outside of the UK and Ireland.

We regret that  with immediate effect, we are no longer able to sell  eBooks to customers placing an order from anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland.  We have had to take this action to comply with the legal demands of publishers regarding the territories  into which we can sell eBooks.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience  that  this may cause.

Please note: Your previously purchased eBooks are not affected by this and will still be available in your ‘Digital order history’ in your online account.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service”

So the publishers have threatened legal action against eBook sellers who sell eBooks from UK based shops to people who do not live in the UK.  Whatever happened to globalisation?  Particularly for something like an eBook which is designed for being bought over the internet.  This is crazy.  I can buy physical books from Amazon from the US, Australia. New Zealand or the UK.  Because I have bought something other than a Kindle I cannot buy eBooks from them and the shops I can buy from say they have now been threatened by the publishers and can’t sell them to me.  OK there are plenty of free eBooks available from the following sites and I’ll get my reading there.  Publishers Association, I hope your writers are happy as they’ll lose the income they would have had if I’d carried on buying my books from WH Shith and Waterstones.  Well done.

Feedbooks.com Gutenberg.org ManyBooks.net


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