Amazon did respond to my open letter about the Kindleand it did not take as long as it took me to put it up here (blaming my time off the last few weeks ;)). So here it goes:
I’m Darren Bafus of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.
I’ve researched your issues with our content team, and should be able to address each point for you.
The Amazon.com app for your iPhone was displaying the cost of the Kindle book in the U.S. Kindle Store, while your Kindle and your visit to the website were displaying the price for you as a Belgian customer. We recommend always using the Kindle or our website when viewing Kindle content, at least as far as prices go, because the website app isn’t going to show non-US pricing for Kindle content.
The actual price you see for the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series (one of my favorites, both in print and the recent TV adaptation) is set by the publisher, in this case Random House Digital, Inc. Not all Kindle content is priced by us – in the case of books offered by publishers like Random House Digital, you’ll see "This price was set by the publisher" on the product page.
Small errors in both the EU and US versions of "A Game of Thrones" were noted, and we’re currently working with the publisher to get them resolved. The reviews you saw concerning OCR errors for the U.S. version were for a previous version, and most of those were fixed some time back. We agree the use of OCR isn’t an excuse for simple errors like character mis-recognition, and we bring these issues to the publishers immediately when we find them.
I hope this information is helpful, Kevin. Please feel free to reply to this email if I can be of further assistance.
Darren P. Bafus
Executive Customer Relations
First lesson for me as a Belgian Customer: get rid of the iPhone app. Apparently of no use to me.
Second, as I fear, the pricing is a move by the publisher. Now, we could have a discussion about whether this is a fair price, but
- that discussion has been going on for a long time on as many locations, no need to have the same one here again
- there is nothing Amazon can do
Or is there? If publishers don’t realize that they can’t keep asking way too much money for eBooks it could kill the platform (or drive piracy) which will hurt Amazon in the end.
I’m glad to see they too think those errors can’t be and it’s good to see them acting on it. As noted, the comments are about older versions. Perhaps, like MrBerre said in a comment on my previous post, they should mark those older reviews in a way.
This, however, did not stop me to look for alternatives. Of course, there is the Gutenberg project that has specific version of their books for the Kindle. Besides that, there are several eBook stores like the one from Google. But of course, it is not in Google’s interest to offer Kindle versions of their books and the ePub format they use is not supported by the Kindle. This can be fixed by downloading and using the tool Calibre, which allows you to convert the ebook to a kindle-friendly format.