It was difficult for me to put a title on this posts since there are so many things I wanted to express. I want to bash dumbass region coding and regional limitations, I want to bash trade borders, I want to bash national protectionism, I want to bash developers that cannot see beyond their own little backyard and I want to bash bickering politicians that fuels this mess.
Yes that is a lot. So why this outburst? Well, it was triggered by the Nook app finally being available in Europe. More specifically in France since that is where I live. I thought this was good news until I installed it. I happen to live in France but I was born in Sweden, I work in Switzerland, I speak Swedish and French at home, English and French at work and my preferred language for movies as well as books is the original language, which for me more often than not is English.
When I started to use the app I rather quickly found out that it does not respect the system language setting. You have to tell it which language you want when you connect to your account. Okay, I could have lived with that. However, if your language setting doesn’t match the one of your billing address, then it is a no-can-do. This means that when using the app to browse the catalog of books you only get French books. To just piss people off even further, the user interface is half English and half French when trying to use the app. Essentially, the app is totally useless for me. I know that you can get English books in the app but you have to search for, more or less, the exact title or browse around until you find it so it is a clear case of poor app development.
This unfortunately is something that software developers almost never seem to get right. It seems like project leaders and developers simply cannot be bothered to put adequate support for multiple languages in their products. Probably because they are never asked by upper management. The entire debacle is of course fueled by corporate lawyers with their dumbass region coding ideas and protectionist politicians. I have two Microsoft account because my first one got set to US by accident when I created it and there was no way to change it. I had to register a new account and transfer all my stuff in order to fix it so that I could use my account in the Microsoft stores. What the f… kind of crap is that?
I have to say that, as much as I have bashed Amazon for their abysmal Kindle app for Windows 8 (which it still looks like they can not be bothered to fix by the way), this is something that Amazon/Kindle have gotten right so far. I have an account registered on the US site, Amazon.com and I get my books in English, I can browse the English books, I get my suggestions for books in English. Amazon figures out that I live in France and will not show anything that I can not legally buy and I pay with my French credit card. It just works!
That is how it should always work. If I want to read an English version of a book or see an English version of a movie I should be able to do that as long as I pay for it. The more difficult they make these things the more people will say “screw you” and resort to less legal means of obtaining what they want and I can fully understand that.
Unfortunately, as long as lawyers and politicians are involved, I do not see this mess change in the near future. Well too bad for the companies that does not open their eyes and get their act together. Barnes & Noble have lost me as a customer until they fix their app for instance.