Ebooks part 2


Ok, so apparently the reason [1] I can buy physical books from, say, waterstones.co.uk, and not ebooks is because, when I buy physical books, the place of sales is Waterstone’s servers (ie in the UK), and they then ship it to me (incurring import taxes and whatnot). When I buy ebooks, the place of purchase is my computer–which is firmly in France, where Waterstone’s isn’t licensed to sell English books per their agreement with the publishers. But of course, no one but the UK resellers are authorised to sell UK editions…

*goes bang head against wall*

Why am I suddenly reminded of Kafka here?

[1]I have no idea whether it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised.


  1. So THAT’s why I can’t buy some ebooks from the States while in Canada! My credit card address is Malaysian which probably confuses the heck out of the servers! Wow, locating geography in cyberspace sounds WEIRD.

  2. This is effectively the case… the retailers of eBooks are terrified of crossing boundaries – which is odd, because Amazon for one have shown repeatedly they have little will to stop illegal imports of UK books into the US and vice versa. But this restriction is far too one-dimensional, because a publisher like, to pick a pertinent example, Angry Robot which has rights in all territories (as do, on some occasions Solaris and Orbit, and several others) is not getting the cross-border sales to which it is perfectly entitled.

    For physical books and eBooks alike, in the Nielsen book data records used by most retailers there are tick boxes for publishers to indicate which countries a book can be sold from. Alas, most retailers have chosen for now to ignore this and restrict even those titles which are not restricted. Not a good plan when sales are down and decreasing.

    FWIW, Apple iBooks store seems the most universal – a publisher-controlled tick box system allows us to choose which stores a book can be sold in. For us, as indicated, it’s everywhere – and when Australia came on board suddenly last week we rushed to tick the “Sell it there too!” box for all AR titles.

  3. Jha: yeah, the net is weird.
    Marc: ha, thanks for the clarification! That’s really weird that ebook retailers are more restrictive than publishers’ rights-as you say, not a good plan when sales are down… (I guess it’s to combat piracy or something like that, but still…)

  4. You could also find a good book-buying buddy and have them purchase the ebook and email it to you and pay them.

  5. Megs: I could–except for the part about the DRM. I would have to strip it from the book they sent me (it’s doable, being a cryptography problem with key, cypher and text, but not legal, and definitely a lot of hassle).

  6. Yikes. So now they’ve decided you can’t even buy a book for someone else in another country? There’s no legal OR business sense for that. :shakes head very sadly:

  7. I think DRMs are legal, sadly (though strictly speaking, they’re a bit equivalent to preventing you from giving a book to a friend).

  8. Exactly what I meant. It’s legal. But it doesn’t make legal sense. At all.

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