Some magazines in Kindle-format are only sold by Amazon. You’d be technically correct to say that’s monopoly. But you can also get the publications in .mobi or .pub formats from download sites on the Internet. They’re counterfeit and illegal and so I don’t use them or promote them. But, admittedly this is a black-market which is promoted by what’s probably an irregular commercial distribution of digital content.
The opportunity for illegal downloads to become popular even among normally law-abiding people is also brought about by an additional constraint. Somebody somewhere decided that even if they have the magazine, they just won’t sell it to you because you’re from a different country! Are you calling that racist now?
You’d think that it’s the publishing house that does not want to sell it to you.
But The Economist website allows you to subscribe to the digital copy in all formats, except for the Kindle. That’s only available from Amazon! I then also checked the Time website – they admittedly provide a digital subscription for the Kindle Fire (but probably because it reads the same format as the Apple iPad). The formats readable by the more common liquid-ink Kindles are only legally available from Amazon. Agggrrrgh!
At an EU-level it’s a recognised issue with the digital single market. The jargon means that even if you’re meant to enjoy free movement of goods and services across EU borders (and so, buy things from any EU country without legal or administrative obstacle), that still is not fully practicable when you buy online. Read more about the Digital Single Market here.
And if you’re thinking that this is only an Amazon problem, you’re mistaken. Apple only opened iTunes to the whole of the EU in September 2011. I remember it making the news: “Apple launches iTunes Store in all remaining EU countries” and “iTunes store now available in Malta“.
The market is starting to budge. Let’s make it happen by raising our voices and putting the pressure as consumers.