Yes, this was the first time I bought an e-book, and yes, my lack of experience may have made matters worse.

I hear from friends that publishers in other countries offer better experiences. What would have been better where?
Is it a matter of publisher services to their customers or of national or international standards Italy has yet to adopt?

I want to buy a book, and choose to take the plunge: let’s try to learn using ebooks on standard devices, eschewing dedicated ones. I will seek a version for those I am using already: a standard laptop Windows 8 PC and a standard Windows 7 phone.

An Italian online bookshop has it. It keeps silent about the ISBN. Making comparison shopping whatever little bit more difficult they can?

I search the book on aNobii by title, authors. aNobii fails to find it, offers me to create a new record. It will later recognize the paper edition ISBN as already catalogued – not the e-book version’s.

Amazon will only sell the paper edition and the Kindle reader edition, sure enough. ISBN also absent.

The publisher’s site offers such an experience I’ll withhold its name.
The book is easy to find there, thankfully.
To buy it, I have to register to the site. Fair enough.
The loyalty card I have had for years with the publisher won’t do, so I have to start a separate loyalty point accrual scheme. Lack of IT resources or plain customer fleecing?
Payment options include PayPal – better than many Italian self-described ecommerce sites.
When completing purchase on PayPal, the publisher’s site reports payment has failed and requests to try another option. Really?
I double-check that PayPal does confirm payment, then go back to the publisher’s site. Lo and behold, here is the ebook, ready for download. Had I trusted the publisher, I would now proudly own two paid copies of the same ebook, both for my very own individual exclusive use.
Download fails with an XML error message.
The publisher’s download page offers a second option pointing me to Kobo. I can indeed sign in with the publisher’s site credentials as claimed, as long as I do it manually. At last, I download the book.

Upon download, I am pointed to the Windows App Store where I find exactly one application to open it. It’s free, good.

The application requests me to “activate” – configure a DRM profile, I presume – by enrolling in one of a couple of dozens schemes with less than familiar names. None readily associates to Anobii, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft, which are my preferred profiles for content sharing and, I like to think, reasonably popular as authentication schemes online. The two most familiar names hint at Google and Adobe. I choose the latter, on the very scanty evidence that the download button on the publisher’s site mentions “Adobe EPUB”.

After creating an Adobe personal profile, I can finally start reading my new eBook. On my Windows laptop, that is; I have yet to find on any of the sites above a tool that will let me read it on my Windows Phone.

Once reading, I find that the ebook sports the ISBN of the paper edition! I also find I can’t copy the ISBN – or any other text – and paste it elsewhere.

What will I discover when I may try to share or transfer – even as a gift – my ebook as I would a paper book?

What of this may be better elsewhere?

I already know of a country-specific feature: books sold through physical booksellers (including eBooks, if any bookseller bothered to sell them) are entitled to a government-funded 19% price discount. The ebook I bought isn’t. Puzzling.