Regional licensing is still a bitch

R

Today I tried to buy an ebook. I’m a big fan of the Kindle and buy ebooks all the time. So I wanted to buy a digital copy of Lawrence Lessig‘s Republic, Lost on institutional corruption (which ironically is responsible for the mess I’m about to describe). I was surprised to find it only as hardcover and audio book on Amazon.com – and tweeted as much.

Nicely enough, Mr. Lessig got back to me personally, asking where I was accessing Amazon from. Turns out that even though my Kindle is connected to Amazon.com (ie. Amazon US, not Germany) the Kindle version just wouldn’t show up.

Intrigued by his pointer, I fired up a VPN to get a US-based IP address, but still no luck. In the end I noticed that my Kindle was set to “Region Europe”. Digging into the Kindle settings, I managed to switch it to the US by putting in a postal address I used to live at.

Let’s recap. To buy a digital book I had to…

  • register my Kindle with the US version of Amazon
  • fake an IP address through a VPN service
  • switch the Kindle settings to the US by way of an old postal address

All that to spend some money on a book that would have been cheaper and much, much easier to pirate.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

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