Amazon gleefully tells Polish consumers they can shop in the US store where ebooks are available in over forty languages. But no, Polish isn’t one of those languages. KDP does not support Polish.
Okay, so absolutely no surprises here. We’ve known since 2019 that Amazon was working towards an official Poland launch, and in fact Amazon has been operating in Poland since 2014, but only this past week did the official Amazon Poland site finally go live.
As noted by TNPS almost a year ago to the day, books and ebooks were not to be part of the show, and with the Amazon Poland site now live it seems that forecast was pretty much spot on.
Yes, Polish consumers can notionally buy books and ebooks, but hold on. There’s nothing to get excited about here.
The print books on Amazon PL are all via third party sellers, and only a handful are in Polish.
Ebooks? The Amazon Poland site is selling Kindles. Yay! These will prove popular with Polish consumers who can buy books from Polish publishers in the mobi format – an option some Polish publishers have been offering for many years.
But yes, that image of the Kindle is showing an ebook in English, not Polish. In fact, anyone wanting to buy an ebook is sent to the Amazon US site where only 1 million ebooks are available, and of course these will be mainly indie titles as mainstream publishers will have strict territorial rights enforcement to make sure that readers in undesirable countries don’t get to read ebooks.
Yes, it may be 2021, but traditional publishing steeped in the knowledge that selling English-language print books in foreign lands is a thankless task, still struggle with the idea that the digital versions of those same books could be bringing in cash from pretty much anywhere in the world at almost no extra cost or effort to the publisher.
But let’s stick with Amazon here, which also seems to struggle with the idea that digital books are a potentially global commodity.
Amazon gleefully tells Polish consumers they can shop in the US store where ebooks are available in over forty languages.
But no, Polish isn’t one of those languages. KDP does not support Polish, and while a handful of Polish-language titles may be uploaded and slip through the net the official policy is:
eBook content uploaded in an unsupported language won’t display properly on Kindle devices and will be removed from sale.
Curiously both Apple and Google Play not only support Polish but have dedicated Poland ebook stores, and Kobo also supports the language although it has no dedicated Poland site.
One might think therefore that Poland is a bit of a backwater for digital books, but in fact Poland is one of the most vibrant digital books markets in Europe –
and with an online population of just under 30 million this is an important market to be taking seriously.
Just last month one of Poland’s biggest digital books subscription services, Legimi, began offering carrier billing – that is, enabling consumers to pay for the service via their mobile phone credit – opening up digital books to consumers without a plastic card to make payments.
The other major players in the Polish books market are Poland-based Audioteka and Sweden-based Storytel, with Sweden-based BookBeat entering the fray last year.
Russia’s LitRes is also in the Polish market, along with countless small domestic players.
Might this be why Amazon is not bothering with the Polish book market?
Probably not. In fact Amazon last launched a Kindle store way back in November 2014, over six years ago, and despite new Amazon stores in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, Singapore, Sweden and now Poland, the reality of the Kindle store looks set to remain at odds with Amazon’s stated ambition,
to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds.