Tuesday 3 October 2017

Buying E-Books in South Africa

I did some research last week on the topic of buying e-books natively in South Africa. By natively, I mean where prices are quoted, and you get charged, in South African Rand.

Turns out, there aren't many of them. In fact, I could only find four - and three of them are international stores which happen to have a South African presence.

We're still very much lagging behind when it comes to the e-book revolution. Can you think of any others? And no, publishers' own websites don't count; I'm looking for online stores that sell books from a wide range of authors and publishers, and allow you to pay in Rands.

Google Play Books

What I like about Google Play is that it's available to anyone with an Android device, and anybody who uses Android is likely already familiar with the brand.

Most of those people are used to installing apps from the Play Store. They may even have purchased movies, TV shows, or music from the respective stores as well. But do they know that there's a bookstore too?

The site offers e-books in e-pub format, and quotes prices in Rand, including VAT. Plus, you can use the gift cards you buy at South African brick and mortar stores for books as well.

I've read a bit using the Google Play Android e-reading app, and I like it. The app is clean and the options for changing your viewing layout are many. I particularly enjoy the "Night Mode", which turns the text more amber as the ambient lighting reduces, so it's really easy on your eyes.

But if you don't like their native app, any non-DRM books bought from Google Play can be downloaded as epub files, so you can use whatever e-reader you like (except Kindle, obviously).

Rakuten Kobo

Kobo's a mature, world-class e-book store with a South African presence. They have a dedicated e-reading device, unlike Google Play, as well as Android, iOS, and Windows Phone apps.

They're a lot more mature than Google Play, and their sole focus is on e-books.

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about the shopping experience for me that's better than the other stores I've tried. The only problem is, if you don't like their e-reader (I don't particularly), there's no way to get at the actual epub file to read on a different one.

They also don't have vouchers/gift cards available in South Africa, so if you don't have a credit card, you're out of luck.


Another international site that happens to allow you to buy books in South African Rands.

While the site does have a consumer-facing store, that's not Inktera's main purpose. Their main purpose is enabling other retailers by hosting stores for them.

They don't have an e-reader, so the only way to read the e-books you buy from them is to download the epub file and load it onto the e-reader or e-reading app of choice.

eBook Shop

Having just recently found this store, I know next to nothing about them.

It's also the only store on this list where my books aren't available, and I can't find any way to upload them.

I tried to register, but they want an inordinate amount of information (including your full postal address and phone numbers), just to create an account. I'm just not comfortable giving up that kind of information.

It looks like they don't have an e-reader or e-reading app either, because there's a link on their home page with recommended software you can download to read their books.

If you know anything at all about this store, or how an indie author like me can get their books listed here, drop me a comment and let me know!

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