If you aren’t aware, All Romance eBooks (ARe) is closing shop and customers have… oh, 3 days (until Dec 31, midnight) to download everything they have purchased. Oh, and any current store credits are no longer valid. On the authors’ front, they are also not getting paid what they are due, and I have no idea what is happening to advertisers who have bought ad space all the way into 2017.
I personally can’t access the website at the time of writing to download my purchased titles, and I’m prepared to lose them forever, sigh. But that’s not just why I’m a bit mad and sad at the moment. No, I’m not going to talk about the poor authors, as I’m sure many places will do that loudly and appropriately. I’m mad, and sad, because All Romance eBooks is one of the increasingly fewer online digital book titles that do not practice geographical restriction. Most of the indie titles on ARe could be purchased by me just fine, when places like Amazon and Kobo refuse to take my money – when it goes down, that just leave (to my knowledge) Smashwords and Google Play. Even then, the selections in these two places are limited compared to those found on Amazon, currently the King of Geographical Restriction.
I’ve blogged before about how Amazon won’t let readers in most parts of the world buy their indie authors’ titles, when they also at the same time allow most of the mainstream big publishers’ digital titles to be purchasable, so I won’t repeat myself here. I’d just like to say, though, that even if ARe’s closure is messy and just not done at all, it also marks another international-friendly online bookstore biting the dust. And that makes me die a little inside, too.
And then I have to look at Twitter, blogs, and message boards to see some really stupid indie authors cheerfully saying that, one down, Smashwords is next. Seriously, darlings? I know these people are cozy in the US, making US money and not caring one bit about the rest of the world, but do they ever stop to consider what happens when Amazon becomes the only bookseller of digital titles, and all those titles get even more locked behind geographical restriction? Some of these morons are the same ones complaining about geographical restrictions a few years back, and how indie publishing will overcome that nonsense. But now that they can make their bread on Amazon, who cares anymore about that issue – let’s just cheer as Amazon gets one step closer towards denying the rest of the world from giving these authors money! Then again, I don’t intend to read their books anyway, so hey, no great loss for me. But still, the very principle of the whole thing galls me.
Anyway, I suppose there are still those two places, but there are drawbacks and possible problems down the road. Smashwords has not done anything to catch up with its competitors, while the pricing on Google is atrocious when it comes to mainstream books (ugh, Agency pricing). But I can still buy indie titles that are sold in these two places for now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
PS: The comments left on ARe’s Facebook are hilarious at the time of writing. Grab your popcorns and go have a look (link opens in new window/tab) while they are still up! Oh, and DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM THERE, even if they are still having sales, as the server is so overloaded at the moment that you may not even get to download your purchases before they close shop.