Two new ebookstores have been launched in Australia. Exciting news for readers, but they come with a price—dollars and DRM (see price comparison below).
Sony Reader Store
Earlier this month, Sony finally launched the Reader Store in Australia. For a limited time, when you sign up to the Reader Store, you’ll get a free ebook (I got Friendship Bread by Darien Gee, but I’m not sure if everyone gets the same title). Sign up is relatively painless: enter your email address, choose a password, and active the account when you get the confirmation email.
You can sort the catalogue by date, relevance and price. I’m not sure how relevance is evaluated, but the first page using this sorting method didn’t produce many titles that I cared about, to be honest. Sort by price and you’ll find some free ebooks. It’s worth checking before you download because some of them are only excerpts rather than the entire book. Sort by date, and again, I’m not sure what it means—I’m assuming date of release—but out of curiosity I navigated to the last page. Don’t do this unless you want to read dodgy sounding books about what sound to me like dirty old men. Definitely not romance.
Navigation within the romance category is, frankly, a bit of a pain. There are no subcategories and when you look at the page number links, it only lists all the pages before the one you’re on, the next page, and the last page. This makes it difficult for me—I like to skip around and jump 2-4 pages at a time.
JB Hi-Fi NOW Books
The store, which went live on 22 April, is part of the retailer’s NOW platform, which also sells digital music. Among the local publishers with titles in the ebookstore are HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, Allen & Unwin, Hachette, Lonely Planet, Pan Macmillan and Text Publishing.
Again, there’s no escaping DRM.
I only had a quick play with this store, but searching for titles seems faster than in the Reader Store and, with the exception of the cluttered and confusing first page, the interface seems more inviting to me.
I’ve listed a random sample of romance titles and their prices (AUD), along with corresponding prices from Diesel (USD) and the publisher (AUD unless otherwise noted). Ebook files have DRM unless otherwise noted.
- Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey — Sony: $8.99 (UK) or $14.39 (Aus) | JB Hi-Fi: $11.04 | Diesel: $3.08 (no DRM) | Carina Press: $4.49 (USD, no DRM)
- The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day — Sony: $9.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $7.14 | Diesel: $2.01
- One True Love by Lori Wilde (novella) — Sony: $4.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $2.99 | Diesel: $1.85
- How The Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long — Sony: $12.29 | JB Hi-Fi: $7.99 | Diesel: $4.19
- Seven Nights In a Rogue’s Bed by Anna Campbell — Sony: $8.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $8.99 | Diesel: $4.19
- Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh — Sony: $11.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $11.99 | Diesel: $6.99
- Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry — Sony: $7.99 (mind you, Dead Heat is $19.99!) | JB Hi-Fi: $7.99 | Diesel: Unavailable
- Wish by Kelly Hunter — Sony: $2.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $2.99 | Diesel: Unavailable | Destiny: $2.99
- Grease Monkey Jive by Ainslie Paton — Sony: Unavailable | JB Hi-Fi: $3.89 | Escape: $5.99
- One Little White Lie by Loretta Hill — Sony: Unavailable | JB Hi-Fi: $2.99
- Busted In Bollywood by Nicola Marsh — Sony: $7.59 | JB Hi-Fi: $4.19 | Diesel: $3.94
- Flesh by Kylie Scott — Sony: $7.89 | JB Hi-Fi: $3.99 | Diesel: Unavailable | Momentum: $3.99
- Love’s Rhythm by Lexxie Couper — Sony: $3.99 | JB Hi-Fi: $3.10 | Diesel: $4.50 (no DRM) | Samhain: $4.50 (USD)
(I haven’t included Kindle prices because Kindle ebooks run on a different platform and epub books are not directly portable onto the Kindle. I’m trying to compare like with like, as much as possible.)
You’ll notice from the list that Destiny, Momentum, Entangled, Carina, Avon Impulse and Samhain are available, but Steam eReads titles are not. JB Hi-Fi also has Escape and Random Romance titles in their catalogue. At this stage, Sony only has 9 Ellora’s Cave titles; JB Hi-Fi has a more extensive backlist. I couldn’t do a price comparison because I didn’t find a title that was in both the Sony and the JB Hi-Fi bookstores.
The Reader Store has been selling books overseas for a while now, so it surprises me that their pricing is so uncompetitive. That said, even though JB Hi-Fi offers substantial savings against the Australian Reader Store, it’s still twice as expensive as Diesel in many cases. For almost all of the titles listed above, the Australian ebookstores only list the Australian editions of the books, with no alternative listing for the (cheaper) US editions. The only real titles for which they’d be a choice for me would be Australian published titles unavailable from overseas bookstores.
What do you think of these new Australian ebookstores? If you’ve had a chance to try them, let us know what you think!