now practically unavailable outside the US

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I’m an eBook fan. I started reading eBooks at the end of 2003. I was searching for a good English dictionary that would run on my Palm Tungsten T. Back then I was reading books made of paper and most of them were written in English. Though I’m German most of the books I read are written in English for two reasons. The first is that it’s an easy way of practicing a language by just reading something that uses the language. The second reason is that some books loose much of their essence when they get translated. When an author starts to play with words and makes jokes that only work with the words he chose in the language he chose, there’s just no way to translate it properly.

So because there’s much in the English language that I haven’t learnt during school, I needed a good dictionary and I didn’t want to have to page through a 1000+ pages dictionary searching for a word I stumbled upon while reading a book on the train. I found “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged” and bought Palm Reader because that was the application I needed to be able to use that dictionary. And because I now had an eBook reader installed on my Palm handheld I also bought an eBook just to test, how reading a book on it would feel like. The book I bought was “Hart’s Hope” by Orson Scott Card, who also wrote “Ender’s Game”, a fantastic book I’ve read earlier. The book was strange but gripping. I read through it in no time.

I realized I didn’t need the feel of paper pages, didn’t need to be able to physically turn the pages to enjoy a book. After all, the content is what makes a book, not the medium on which it is delivered. OK, a paper book feels better, the print looks nicer and images also look better on a printed page than on a small screen of a handheld computer, but reading voluminous books like Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem” while on the train is much more comfortable on a handheld.

Through all that time I stuck with Palm Reader which somewhen was renamed to eReader. I’ve always found something worth reading on which claims to be “the world’s largest eBook Store” and the ereader software was always available on the devices I wanted to use it on: Palm Tungsten T, Palm Tungsten T5 and for the last year iPhone. Up to now I’ve read 26 book that way.

Unfortunately something changes in the eBook scene. Some months ago, an ereader newsletter promoted “Matter” by Iain M. Banks. It was available for a reduced special introductory price. Happily I put it into my ereader shopping cart, but when I wanted to buy it, ereader told me that I could not. The eBook is geographically restricted and can only be bought by residents of the US and several other countries excluding Germany. I was very infuriated and wrote an e-mail to ereader about this. The answer was that that’s how the publishers want to have it and ereader could not change it. I then bought the paperback variant which luckily is not geographically restricted.

A week ago I participated in a survey at ereader and got a gift code. Today I took the time to browse through ereader and get some new eBooks. The first book I looked up was “The Dreaming Void” by Peter F. Hamilton. Uups, geographically restricted to US and Canada. Damn, OK, let’s look at some other books. Hmm, looks like nearly all new releases are geographically restricted.

Funny thing is that nearly 90% of the books in my ereader book shelf are now geographically restricted. “Anathem” which I bought and read a year ago is now geographically restricted. Had I not bought it a year ago, I could not buy it now. I wonder if ereader will ever go Amazon on me and start deleting books from my book shelf. Unfortunately ereader doesn’t sell “1984”. but it would have been fun to link to a geographically restricted version here.

So well, ereader, thanks for the gift code, but it would also be nice if you had some interesting books available to people outside the US worth spending the gift code and my money on.