Australian bookshop offers Kindle amnesty

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It probably comes under the heading of "too little too late", but the global backlash against Amazon came to the Sydney suburbs. An Australian independent bookshop chain is offering an "amnesty" for ebook aficionados to hand in their Kindle ereaders in exchange for vouchers.

The publicity stunt, sorry act of commercial resistance by Pages and Pages, offers customers who bin their Kindles at the Mosman Village, Sydney store a voucher for A$50 (£34) if they also buy the ereader the store sells. Which, considering the cost of a Kindle, does not seem a particularly tempting deal.

The initiative is not a Luddite act by a bookshop worried about diminishing sales, bur rather an attempt to alert customers to Amazon’s protectionist sales techniques. Manager Jon Page explained: "The ebook is not a threat to physical bookshops. This new format presents bookshops and readers with many wonderful opportunities to sell and read more books. What does threaten bookshops is a company who engages in uncompetitive behaviour, pays no tax in Australia and misleads readers with restrictive devices and fake book reviews."

He also complains that a Kindle has become the generic word for an ereader device but points that a Kindle requires ebooks to be bought from Amazon. "Most readers don't understand that it is an Amazon product and there are other, better, reading devices on the market". Specifically the one he sells in his shops.

Amazon has over 65% of the ebook market in Australia and more than 75% of the ereader market. "Amazon limits readers' choices and walls them into their garden. But you don't have to be,” Page argued.

The Australian protests join a swelling movement of resistance to Amazon’s commercial muscle. In the UK a petition from booksellers will be delivered to Downing Street demanding that the government pressurise Amazon to pay a fair share of UK tax.

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