Review: Two Australian eBook retailers

12 is the retail arm of Ebooks Corporation, an Australian public company. Based in Claremont, WA, the company was founded in 1997 by Stephen Cole. Ebooks Corporation is also the company that supplies content to, and is also working on E20, which appears to be a platform-neutral system for eBooks.

The store design is possibly the best I have seen in Australia, with touches like a list of a genre’s bestselling authors when you select the genre, as well as the option to preview the novel or detailed summaries on the book’s page.

The supported eBook platform range is wider than other retailers in Australia, however, not all the books are in all the formats. Depending on your device, you may not be able to read some of the books on sale here due to multiple Digital Rights Management schemes used. So check the device and store first before purchasing.

Linux users are completely unsupported, a result of the DRM schema chosen by As well, none of the formats may be used on iPhone/iPad, however some newer books use the Amigo Reader; a web-based eBook reader, which may allow non-supported platforms like the iOS devices. Full list of currently supported platforms and devices can be found here.

Supported formats: PDF (Adobe DRM), ePub (Adobe DRM), MS Reader (MS DRM) and Mobi (DRM).

Prices are comparable to Read Without Paper (reviewed below). However, one flaw in the retail experience is that you cannot see prices on the landing page, being forced to drill down into the book page. The prices are listed in Australian dollars. Each eBook format is priced individually, and there can be more expensive formats for the same book. What rights you are allowed with each book and DRM schema is clearly listed, a nice level of transparency unseen in every other retailer reviewed.

The range is strong — unlike Read Without Paper, every book has Australian licensing. This is due to Ebook Corporation being the backend server for the content, unlike Read Without Paper, which uses US-based Overdrive Inc.

One service that may be of interest to website owners is that there is an affiliates program, which offers banner ads and eBook sale commissions. This will be covered in a separate article in the future. is a great eBook retail site, however, it is also a poster child for the problems posed by DRM. If your reading methods are allowed by the device and format limitations forces onto you, this is a good choice for legal eBooks. However, if your device choices prevent reading the available books, this is not the retail site to use.

Read Without Paper
Read Without Paper is local online eBook retailer based in Mitcham, Victoria. Part of the DA Information Services Pty Ltd group, it uses the Overdrive Content Reserve service for its content.

Read Without Paper uses the Adobe DRM system, and requires the use of the Adobe Digital Editions software. Formats supported are ePub and PDF. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) only supports Windows and OS X. I have not tested ADE under Linux, but will do so, to see if it can be run under WINE or in a virtual machine (like Sun/Oracle Virtual Box).

One of the nice touches of this bookstore is that you can see what country the book can be sold in. Considering that one of the big problems facing Australian eBooks is country rights, this allows eBook sales worldwide, while still complying with licensing requirements.

Prices are in Australian Dollars. Prices are varied, with some books priced $30 or more.

Comparing a book I bought on the Borders app, An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair, I found that Borders was cheaper (At $5.95 compared to Read Without Paper’s $8.36), however Read Without Paper has a vastly superior catalogue.

The ‘house eBook reader’ is the Ecoreader. At $449, it is a lot more expensive than the Kobo, Kindle and Nook. This price may change in the future, due to the just-erupted price war in eBook readers. The reader itself is similar to specs to the Kobo, with an added audio player and without Bluetooth.

Read Without Paper predates, and it shows. The web store is polished, and there is also a strong catalogue of audiobooks, at prices that compare well to places like Audible and audio book retailers here. For a legal shop for eBooks, Read Without Paper is worth checking out.

Darryl Adams is a government worker and internet tragic. A former IT worker, he still pines for the days of IBM keyboards that go CRUNCH and the glow of green screens. He can be found on on Twitter or on Facebook. Check out his site for more articles about e-book readers, retailers, formats and news (or will have when Darryl can be drawn away from reading Delimiter).

The views expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer, the ATO.

Image credit: Amazon


  1. ADE does run in a VM, I’ve done it myself. Have a vague recollection of it working under WINE too but don’t hold me to that.

    The ECO Reader predates the availability of the Kindle in Australia, but yes, it is too expensive for what it is. It’s a Hanlin V3 with a custom firmware. When it was released it was pretty much the only e-ink device available in Australia with local support — and that was only nine or so months ago!

    The main reason I’d even consider an ECO rather than the Kobo is that it has wider format support. There’s also an open source firmware available, OpenInkpot. That might not matter to most people though, and $200 is an awful lot of extra money to pay for it.

    • Thanks for the feedback. The Ecoreader looks good specs wise, and I would consider it except for the price. The fact it plays audio as well can be seen as a bonus, especially if you listen to audio books. 512mb memory is on the low side, but yes, the e-book reader market is in an interesting time at the moment.

  2. Darryl
    Nice review thanks.

    I have a pathological dislike for DRM – especially on books. So until they grow up like the music industry kind of has, I’ll keep thumbing through the dead tree versions for most of my words.

    Are you indicating it is the Adobe DRM on the PDFs and ePubs which prevents from being used on the iOS platform? I read ePub and PDF on my iPhone with Stanza and iBooks with no difficulty


    • Stanza does not support Adobe DRM, it only supports Mobi DRM and fictionwise (this is from memory). The problem is that Stanza is a great iPhone app, however, it has no real support for any DRM (on the desktop app) minimal on iphone.

      There is an Open DRM system (from Oracle/Sun i believe) but as usual, no one seem to have picked it up.

  3. Beg to differ, Darryl: not all books at are licensed for sale to Australians. (You said, “The range is strong — unlike Read Without Paper, every book has Australian licensing”)

    One example:

    In fact, try any Robin Hobb title. Elizabeth Moon too. Even John Birmingham’s backlist has the Buy button greyed out.

    Try finding any book you *really* want. Shock and dismay awaits you.

    • Thanks Helen. I did do searches, but Robin Hobb or John Birmingham where 2 authors I did not search.

      I will change it on oz-e-books, and if Renai see this, maybe he can update as well (pitiful begging sounds)

      An Australian retailer unable to sell Australian authors is not acceptable in my opinion, but that is the world we live in

      • I have gone to so many times, always to be told the title I wanted was “only available” in some other country, usually the U.S. I was staggered to find out this site is located in Australia, run by an Australian company.

        I created an account at years ago, but it has gone to waste, since the books I want to buy are never “available”.

        • I know why, however that does not excuse me for my blunder.

          US publishers are more willing to negotiate e-book rights with 3rd parties. The market is more mature over there than here.

          Many books are negotiated with numerous regions. The US is one, the UK/AUS is another. This is because this maximises the money for the author. At the moment there is little overlap between Aussie and US publishing houses.

          The reason that many paper books from the US are available in Australia is the US distributors sell to (for them) overseas markets. So the US distributors are more likely to sell e-books in Australia than US publishers, who have no incentive due to do do because they do not have the right to do so. And Australia distributors have no urge to join the e-book market, because they are owned by Aus (and UK) publishers. It a savage circle.

          And when I checked, after Helen told me about rights issues, I too was surprised on the issue of an Aussie company having Aussie e-book issues. Then I realised, that’s main market would be the USA. Another vicious circle. GAH!!!

  4. No problem Darryl; thanks for taking the time to look into this clusterf**k. Until Delimiter came along no one gave a damn about we lost consumers: desperate to get a fix but unable to make the purchase.

  5. I am just searching out what ebook to purchase in australia. From your comments it seems the Australian market for ebooks is still very much limited. Can you recommend what ebook would be best for me who likes various but mainly UK authors?

  6. Ilse, are you looking for an ebook-reader (a device or program), an ebook retailer (a site which sells ebooks) or a specific ebook (a book to read)?

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