Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Why You Can’t Buy An eBook In English Outside The U.S.

STATUS: Oh, I’ve got a lot to accomplish today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LIFE IN TECHNICOLOR by Coldplay

A couple of weeks ago we got an email from a rather upset reader in Denmark. He wanted to buy Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS as an eBook in English for his eReader. According to this fan, he is Danish but reads most of his novels in English. He could see that it was available in the US without a problem but why couldn’t he buy it?

I imagine this fan is not the only non-US resident with this question so I’m going to tell you why he can’t buy the US English eBook version in Denmark (or wherever outside of the US). And yes, we did send a letter to this person explaining why.

It’s a sticky situation folks. As eBooks have global capacity in the English language, the reason why it may or may not be available resides in the initial rights/territories granted to the publisher when the deal was made for the print edition.

I know, not exactly what you wanted to hear when you live in Timbuktu and you just want to buy the dang eBook. Doesn’t the author and the publisher get the money?

So let me see if I can explain more clearly because trust me, it’s causing headaches for agents, for authors, and for publishers, and there is no easy fix-it solution.

If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.

Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.

Now, if an agent and author has granted World English or World rights to the US publisher, then there is the possibility for the US publisher to sell its English version world-wide in print or eBook. I say “possibility” as the US publisher may still want to sublicense property to UK or do a deal internally with a sister-UK/ANZ company who will want its version exclusively in certain territories.

So, it’s not just a matter of the author or US publisher giving Amazon or Apple or BN or Whoever a thumbs-up to sell away the English language eBook from their distribution channels in other countries. It all depends on the contract.

And yes, we ALL understand that with the electronic book there is now a greater global market for the English language version that needs to be exploited but with all English-speaking territories wanting to protect their exclusive sales area for their version, it’s a bit of tangle with no easy solution.

And yes, I get that avid readers may simply pirate an eCopy when the legal/legitimate one is not readily available. We aren’t stupid but the industry is not shifting fast enough to implement a quick solution.

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57 Responses

  1. Beth said:

    The annoying thing is that in the same situation, I’m free to order either the UK or US edition of any given book – and big retailers happily ship it to any European country, whether they’re shipping from the US, UK or Australia. Why should ebooks be different?

  2. Tessa Quin said:

    I had no idea they were doing the DVD thing with the eBooks. This is so sad. I just don’t understand why they’d do this with eBooks and not with regular books. I often buy YA books in English from the USA Amazon. I honestly don’t see the difference in regular book and eBooks when it comes to making a purchase. (I live in Iceland).

  3. Karen Carr said:

    I wonder how the online retailers are handling this, like can a foreigner login to amazon and be barred from seeing certain books? I guess they must!

  4. Susan Gourley/Kelley said:

    I didn’t know this about the ebook rights but the way you explain it makes sense. I really wish the legal departments would catch up to technology especially in the priracy problem areas.

  5. Melanie said:

    Ally Carter’s Heist Society is currently in the lead for an award in the Teen Reads Awards, run by the Indigo/Chapters book stores in Canada. All is not lost!

  6. Suilan said:

    I don’t get it. I can buy US or UK (paper) books or DVDs via amazon.de, no problem. What’s different about eBooks? (Not that I own an e-reader yet, and this certainly doesn’t help persuade me to ever buy one… )

  7. Amanda said:

    I was actually a little bit confused by this post. Perhaps because I have not experienced this because I am an American living in Denmark and use a US version of iTunes and Amazon. However, I have never run into problems buying ebooks over here. Is this simply because of the American factor?
    If so…have I wandered into a sort of legal gray area in that there may not be European Rights for this ebook, but I’m here in Europe reading it anyway? Perhaps this is a silly question, but since I can do this with no problems it seems that others could get around any sort of block that is set up to prevent books being purchased here in Europe.
    I do know that for the iTunes store (for a partial answer to Karen’s question), you can only get an account for a country if you have a card from that country, but I don’t know about Amazon or other ebook retailers…

  8. nymfaux said:

    I was kind of thinking along the same lines as Amanda–My BN ereader and my Nook account required a card in order to set it up, even for the free e-books–so I was wondering if that’s the only way they identify your country?

    I also wonder what happens when the book becomes public domain–because Google and Project Gutenberg both offer free ebooks that you can download to your ereaders, so are international readers unable to access those, too?

  9. --Karen H said:

    Thanks, Kristin, for posting this explanation. I was just ranting about this to my friends via e-mail, as I now live in Germany (and can’t read German, much), so wanted to download an American e-book to my iPod via my long-time account with Barnes and Noble. No can do. Drove me batty. It’s the same account I had when I was in the states, using the same U.S. credit card, from the same U.S. bank account, but because I wasn’t physically in the U.S. I couldn’t download it.

    As for pirating, sheesh, the only way I could pirate it after downloading it into my iPod would be to painstakingly type it all into my computer, which would be no different than buying a paperback book and painstakingly typing it all from there.

    Frustrating! I’m running out of books to read! Ack!

  10. The Daring Novelist said:

    nymfaux: you shouldn’t have any problem getting public domain books, or for that matter books by indie authors or others who don’t deal with the complexities of distribution rights. The problem is in the legalities, not in the technology.

  11. Catherine Blakeney said:

    It’s not just books. I wanted to purchase a song off iTunes by a German band that was in English, but was told I couldn’t buy it since it wasn’t authorized for sale in the US.

  12. Kristin Laughtin said:

    Huh. I understand the legalities of this issue, but agree with all the other commenters who pointed out that it’s odd to be able to purchase physical products off sites like Amazon and have them shipped overseas, but not be able to do the same for electronic. Now that I’m thinking more about it, I’m remembering similar experiences some friends of mine had with iTunes. They wanted to buy Japanese songs that weren’t available in America, and had to set up separate accounts, order Japanese iTunes gift cards, and use those to pay for the music they wanted. They didn’t have any problem actually downloading the songs, though, even though they were in the U.S.

    Question: Do you see World English electronic rights as likely to become more popular, or even standard, in contracts? Or do you think ebooks are likely to go the way of DVDs, with different region settings for different parts of the world?

  13. theflightytemptress said:

    Really?

    …I never really noticed. I have an American Kindle, but I live in Japan. I purchase English books here all the time. Don’t have to pay that crappy $2 wireless fee anymore, either! HAH!

    I assume that’s just because I have the American Kindle? I don’t know.

  14. Patty said:

    Thanks for explaining, Kristin. I would urge the collective publishing industry to sort this one out sooner rather than later, because I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Being in Australia, this is the singlemost important reason that I haven’t bought an ereader and don’t plan to do so in the forseeable future (nor does anyone else in my vicinity, and I am yet to see one of those devices for sale in a bookshop, and yes, I live in a big city). I was all keen and bright-eyed when I heard about Kindle for PC, I downloaded it, and then… I couldn’t get what I wanted. Talk about frustration!

  15. graywave said:

    As a writer, and being aware of this problem, I made sure, when I signed the deal for my book, that the publisher had world English rights. I urge other writers to talk to their agents and publishers and make sure their ebook is available around the world. As Francis said, readers don’t give a damn about legalities or how much profit the publisher wants to make. As writers, we need to take some responsibility and make sure our readers can read our ebooks if they want them.

  16. Stephen said:

    So in summary, what you’re saying is that it is the agents/authors fault.

    Because they want the possibility of selling the book to other countries, but haven’t been able to do so, they keep the rights to sell to those countries locked away and unusable. Right? (I’m joking, but that does seem to be the guts of it).

    One other possibility not mentioned above is that the rights to another area have been sold, but the other publisher doesn’t do electronic editions. Until very recently, publishers in Australia haven’t really had an outlet for electronic sales, so many still don’t do ebooks at all.

    Most of the books I want to buy and read in ebook editions are never going to be published outside the US. Until their agents and the publishers figure out how to fix this, they are going to miss out on a growing slice of the market.

  17. Jane said:

    I live in Australia, and I think this issue is one that affects sales of e-book readers (and ultimately e-books). The number of books I can buy in Oz on, say, Kindle, is much smaller than the number available on the US Kindle. So I stick to paperbacks – which as other commenters have already noted, I can buy from anywhere and ship to Oz.

  18. Anonymous said:

    I live in Canada, and unfortunately I must say that my experience with my Sony E-reader has taught me that just because there is north american rights does not mean that they extend to Canada. Seriously. I had bought Soulless at the end of March for my e-reader. At the beginning of April it was no longer available for purchase in Canada. A LOT of books that we previously had access to purchase have been revoked. It is VERY frustrating. The thing with electronic readers is that it allows spur of the moment purchases. Everyone is missing out on sales, from supplier to publisher to author, by not being able to move fast enough, and on top of that taking away rights that had previously been granted (or maybe they were pirated too….) I’m back to getting my books for free at the library now, until the e-business gets its act together. I just don’t have the space to justify buying hard copies. Furthermore, having them electronically reduces the space needed for them and thus allows me to buy books I might not have experimented with before. Just so we are clear, those are all sales and dollars that are being missed out on.

    As a thought.. authors might want to consider a donate button on their websites. It would certainly help to support them and perhaps alleviate guilty conscious of those who may procure the books elsewhere online. Personally I would never procure my books elsewhere – the formating is all wrong 😉 Also it just pisses me off to do so, when I should be able to buy them honestly and support the whole process.

    PiscesMuse

  19. Cole Kleinschmit said:

    The market doesn’t wait for what it doesn’t need to. You’ve written the past about how ruthless the internet is with crushing supply chains for precisely this reason. End users will find a way.

  20. Lucy said:

    Theoretically–if the publisher only has North American rights, and the UK doesn’t want/doesn’t buy the e-rights–those foreign e-rights rights still belong to the author. Which means that if you as an author were aware of the problem–

    Kristin, stop me if I’m wrong here–

    –you should be able to commission your own e-book version through a UK book packager, to be released in the UK and other countries. I don’t believe you would be in violation of any non-compete clause provided that you did not make sales to US/NA residents, or in territories to which you’ve sold the rights. You’re merely self-publishing in foreign territories as opposed to selling those rights in the traditional way.

    Anybody up on the legal stuff who wants to comment on this?

  21. Anonymous said:

    Kristin,

    What an awesome post. The comments too.

    I’ve never seen any mention of e-readers made by other than U.S. companies. Are there European or Asian companies with different e-readers (and different proprietary formats)? Are non-U.S. publishers issuing e-books? How do their royalty rates compare to ours?

    If there is already information like this out there I would like to know. Probably others would as well.

  22. Paul Durrant said:

    It works the other way around too — there are some books published in English by a UK publisher that are available in Ebook formats to UK customers, but not to US customers.

    One solution to the problem is to persuade publishers to buy (& authors and agents to sell) exclusive regional print rights but non-exclusive world-wide ebook rights.

    I believe some publishers already do this (Baen books springs to mind).

    Personally, I’d much rather buy books by UK authors from UK publishers, and books by US authors from US publishers. Because then I know that some editor hasn’t gone through and tweaked the text to fit what they think their local readership expects.

    Sorcerer’s Stone? Pah! 🙂

  23. Frode said:

    Amazon is not a publisher or even distributor though. They sell paper books all over the world which is clearly in violation of the paper book rights, but for ebook rights they’re now suddenly all compliant. What gives? It’s not just a question of rights, or they would treat paper and ebook customers the same way.

    And temptress – that won’t last. I got an email from Amazon about my downloaded region being different from my purchase region, and they wanted me to authenticate by faxing them proof of ID.

  24. ryan field said:

    Interesting post. More than half of the reader mail I receive comes from different parts of the world and I just assumed it was all so simple. And I never ask about whether or not they are buying e-books or print books.

  25. Anonymous said:

    @Frode. They aren’t in violation on the print books because the point of sale for them is considered the Amazon location that has the book. There is no restriction on where they ship it once the sale is made (unless the incoming country restricts it for some reason). For ebooks the point of sale is considered to be the computer where the purchase is being made. Stupid? Well…

    It was never much of a problem until a few years ago when UK publishers, and later publishers in Oz, decided to really get into the eBook arena with their own editions. Then all of the sudden publishers (Hatchette comes to mind) started pulling their books from sellers until they put a way to regionally restrict them into place.

  26. moretta said:

    Well, the post is OK but please, could you explain whath Beth syas? I live in Spain and, in a lot of cases, I can order the print book from Amazon but not he ebook? Do the author sell print rights in English worldwide but not ebook rights, are there different laws or what is the problem?

  27. rachelcapps said:

    When Soulless first released in the US, I tried to buy it on my Kindle, from Australia.

    When I couldn’t I figured it was for the very reason you’ve explained in your post. BUT, will Soulless sell in ANZ anytime soon? I’d rather wait to buy it on my Kindle, but if it won’t be available for ages, I’ll revert to paperback.

  28. Anonymous said:

    Just a comment about Amazon print books. I live in the UK and I cannot purchase print books off Amazon.com until they’ve officially been released to the UK. I see this all the time when books come out first in the US, and I have to wait an extra 3 months or so before they’re released in the UK

    Also, re publishers and digital books – I’m not convinced that publishers care too much about their e-reading audience. They tend to retard progression until the last possible moment and then take one tiny tortoise step forward

  29. Anonymous said:

    this is the main reason i’m not buying *any* ebooks yet.

    if i can buy an english paperback in a Norwegian bookstore, as well as ordering directly from USAUK (often cheaper than the .no bookstore), without a problem for the norwegian translation (oh wait, often there isn’t one… for more obscure titles), then why not an ebook…

  30. amanda said:

    Just a comment from an American on the availability of content on iTunes, etc when in a foreign country (mainly Australia).

    First, iTunes says you’re not supposed to download stuff when you’re in a foreign country, but they don’t actually seem to check (at least if you have a US iTunes account and credit card).

    Second, Barnes and Noble does check your geographic location when purchasing ebooks both online and with the nook. You can get around it if you have a US based VPN account.

    Third, at least the Kindle app for the iPhone didn’t seem to check where I was either when I connected via wireless.

    So it seems to vary widely.

    It seems to me that it’s really hard to justify regional rights though, when many people end up living and working in different countries from where they grew up, did university, etc. Or maybe my friends are just more mobile.

  31. Anonymous said:

    Interesting answer. Small correction: “ANZ (Australia)” is probably better expressed as “ANZ (Australia and New Zealand)”.

  32. Rhyan said:

    I buy a lot of ebooks. And more and more I see where an author has retained the ebook rights and put the eBook out themselves. I am reading a book right now that was published in 2006 in print by a well know author under a new title and name. I suspect she kept the eBook rights. She lists the original title and who published it in the notes.

  33. Paul said:

    To answer Karen Carr’s question: No, european people can see all the books. We are only presented the info that we can’t buy them by the time we want to pay. Very annoying.

  34. Adrian Lopez said:

    This, dear publishers, is the reason I don’t own and will likely never own a Kindle. Printed books I can usually buy, use and sell without restriction, but eBooks come with all sorts of nasty restrictions I’d rather avoid.

    Frankly, I want nothing to do with eBooks in their current form.

  35. Joseph L. Selby said:

    Thank you for the very informative post, Kristen. I wish these were the only reasons someone may not be able to purchase an ebook internationally, but there are many more roadblocks to the process than just rights. As many posters have mentioned above, the laws for these kinds of purchase are much more rigidly enforced. The technical programming to accommodate international ecommerce is a HUGE pain in the ass. Up until this year, neither publisher I worked for even bothered. The number or hours required to set it up, the time suck it became to the media department, and the massive headache of fixing all the bugs and dealing with constantly fluctuating exchange rates did not make it worth it.

    Now that market share is increasing, publishers are taking the plunge and from a media perspective, it’s been a nightmare ever since. Even something as simple as selling to Canada where we have a free trade agreement and the exchange rate is 1:0.958 has been one hoop to jump through after another.

    So why can’t a person an ebook internationally? It may be because of rights. It may be because the sale isn’t worth it. The number of hours required to set it all up versus the projected international sales means it’s not worth it.

  36. Clytie said:

    Regardless of technical problems in setting a process up from scratch, the fact is that international ebook-selling worked well for years. Sites like Fictionwise, eReader.com, Diesel eBooks, CyberRead, BooksOnBoard etc. had large and loyal international customer bases. I bought 1200 ebooks in 2 years from Fictionwise. (I live in Australia, and I’m only able to read ebooks, due to disability.)

    Then, after years of the process working perfectly well for both customers and retailers, publishers suddenly decided to stop it working. They imposed “geographic limitations” which previously hadn’t existed. It is hard to see how this is an improvement in any way. I have bought very few ebooks since these limitations were imposed. I’m not allowed to buy the books I want, I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time searching for books I’m allowed to buy, and most of my reading and purchasing time now goes into trying to find out WTF is going on (thus my appearance at this blog, via MobileRead).

    Kristen is quite right: it’s not just up to the author or agent. I’ve seen statements by authors that they insisted on world rights but the publishers wouldn’t allow them or implement them. A recent enquiry by Diesel eBooks (see their blog) to HarperCollins resulted in the answer that currently HP weren’t “turning on” any of their titles for Australia/NZ (WTF?), but of course they were “working hard” to fix this.

    So, as one of the majority of English-speakers living outside the U.S., you’re not allowed to buy books by the authors you used to support. You can’t complete series, even by authors from your own country. You end up juggling a dozen different storefronts, search processes and different formats on different devices. The result of these artificial barriers? You don’t buy books.

    As I said, I can’t read paper books. Without Project Gutenberg and the indie publishers, I’d be without books. I haven’t been able to work out my local library’s electronic borrowing system yet (another artificial barrier). I have started buying more ebooks directly from authors. (Result: the publisher loses sales.) I cannot believe the book publishing industry needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, after watching the music companies shoot themselves in the foot.

    Recently, I tried to buy three early volumes (2-4) of the Argeneau series (Lynsay Sands, HarperCollins) when the author’s website announced they had been released in ebook for the first time. Amazon allowed me to buy volumes 2 and 3, then told me volume 4 wasn’t available to Australia. WTF? (At Diesel eBooks, I can buy volume 2, but not volumes 3 or 4.) I wrote to HarperCollins, asking why three consecutive titles in the same series by the same author, released on the same date by the same publisher to the same retailer, aren’t available to the same country.

    After several weeks, I still haven’t received a reply. I originally wrote to Amazon, but they just sent me a predigested response blaming the publisher. Nobody seems willing to dispel the confusion, or to help us actually buy books.

    Does this situation make sense to you?

  37. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Stephen, it’s NOT the author/agents’ faults and I wish bloggers would stop acting like it was. There is nothing I would like more than to sell my book in every country and language in the world. But that doesn’t mean that a publisher in every country in the world would like to buy said book.

    Even authors who sell “world rights” to their American publishers are at the whim of the publishers about whether or not those PUBLISHERS will exploit them (for instance — I’ve allowed one of my publishers access to my Chinese rights, but you still can’t find those books in China) or whether the foreign publishers will take them on.

    Blaming the authors and agents for a lack of being able to find a book in a certain format is like blaming an unpublished author because her book isn’t published. I can’t sell something that a publisher won’t buy.

  38. Stephen said:

    Diana,

    It *may be* your fault. Saying it’s not doesn’t make it true.

    You can’t sell to every market in the world, I understand that. Very few people can. And if they can, then I’m going to be able to buy their books in the local bookstore, so there’s not a problem.

    But we’re talking about e-books here, not paper. If you haven’t sold the e-rights to a publisher in a given area, there is nothing stopping you from making that book available yourself. It’s not rocket science, you’ll get a better percentage than you would if a publisher had it, and you *can* make it available worldwide, even from a US store.

    Sure, sell all the rights (paper and ebook) around the world if you can. You’ll get a better deal, you’ll sell far more, and I’m all for authors getting money. But if you can’t sell the foreign rights, and you don’t use them yourself, then it is your fault, and complaining about not being able to sell it to a publisher doesn’t change that. You don’t need a publisher to make ebooks available worldwide.

  39. nymfaux said:

    But what happens when the author does decide to sell his/her own ebooks??? If her publisher buys the American rights, isn’t the author in competition? I would imagine they would sell the ebook from their own site? I really don’t know the technical details, but if the author sells it themselves, does it require extra software to set up and make sure that the author isn’t infringing on anyone who DOES have his/her e-rights???

    And Kristin has been posting a lot about electronic rights being issues in contract negotiations. It sounds like most publishers want as many rights as they can get–is it possible to force publishers into using those rights or default them back to the author?? Or would a publisher just walk away from the deal if they don’t get the terms they want??? It’s probably easier for a big name author to hold their ground, but a newer author may not have as much leverage.

    p.s. @Diana Peterfreund–LOVED Rampant and can’t wait for Ascendant!

  40. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Thanks, nymfaux! I hope you like it too.

    And Stephen, nymfaux is correct. There are SEVERAL things that are preventing authors who have sold rights to books from just “selling them themselves.” First off, there is often wording in our contracts that prevent us from exploiting rights that our publisher would view as competitive — if my publisher is going to make world rights that they don’t exploit or electornic rights that they limit to certain territories a deal-breaker for deals (and many publishers do) then authors are stuck with contracts where they CAN’T just go sell them themselves. I think sometimes readers see instances where authors have gone and put their OOP or uncontracted books up for sale on Kindle and seem to think it’s just that easy. Publishing contracts have 50 pages for a reason.

    Additionally, while there is theoretically nothing stopping me from getting on a plane and flying to Thailand and standing on a street corner with downloads of my book for sale, that doesn’t make it feasible. There is nothing theoretically stopping me from researching the ebook laws and format of every country in the world (Probably have to pay a translator to figure those out), contacting distributors to every country in the world (again, with the translator), figuring out the best way to format my book for every country in the world, setting up tax forms and management and shopping carts for every country in the world, and selling my book that way — but again, how feasible is that, really?

    That’s like saying there is nothing theoretically stopping every person who gets a traffic ticket from going to law school, spending three years and tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree, study for the bar, take the bar, and go fight the traffic ticket from doing so. Of course they CAN, but it’s ridiculous.

    I’m a writer, and there is a VERY good reason I’m not self publsihing — I’m NOT a publisher. To be a publisher, I’d have to stop being a writer.

    The hypothetical you present makes it no more the author’s fault that a reader can’t buy her work in Timbuktu than the readers fault that she’s not flying to America to buy the book — or whatever country she can buy the book in.

  41. Anonymous said:

    As a Canadian, this is a highly frustrating situation. I want to pay for books. I really really do. But getting ebooks in Canada (legally) is a nightmare. I can hear some of you grunting that I should therefore buy only paper books, and I do that too, but the fact is, I have an ereader, I love it, it’s ideal for traveling, and I want to use it. But I can’t buy books as a Canadian no matter where I am. I tried to buy a book for my mother’s Sony reader, but because I downloaded it to my computer, when she plugged in, it erased the contents of her reader and we had to spend half an hour on the phone convincing someone that we were honest people before he refilled her account and refunded my money (in seven business days). So I torrented the book and sent it as an email attachment in under 5 minutes. I’m in France right now and trying to download a book for an overnight train. Booksamillion.com took my money from Paypal but nothing happens. They responded to my email saying that someone will get back to me within 48 hours, after which the train trip will be long over. Hell, guess I’ll be swashbuckling the novel I bought. This is your napster moment publishers. My students and my sons find it easier to download music for free than to pay for it. Ebooks are essentially PDF files, and an 800 page novel goes through the pipes faster than a single song. Wake the hell up publishing industry; the canary in the coalmine that is the music industry is showing you your future.

  42. Kaitlyne said:

    I’m not sure why ebooks should necessarily be different from regular books, either. I understand what you’re saying, but the same holds true for print books, doesn’t it? I live in Japan. I buy English books from Amazon all the time. I’ve never came across a situation when I couldn’t find the book available, though sometimes it does take a couple of weeks if it has to be shipped in from elsewhere. I’ve also received both British and American versions doing this.

    If I can’t do that for some reason, then I can go to the American Amazon site, order it from there, and then have it shipped to me. I’ve never had to do that with a book that I can recall, but I’ve done it with other products.

    I guess I’m thinking that the print book is limited by the same type of agreements, so why can I order any print book I want, but if I wanted an ebook that wouldn’t be an option?

    I can see this being a really frustrating issue for people living out of the states. I have a hard time getting television and movies. There are no stores nearby to rent from (or buy from, for that matter, I live in the boonies), and I can’t rent or buy electronic movies on Amazon or view free versions on official sites because I get an “Out of viewing area” message. The only reason I can watch *anything* is because I have an American address linked to my iTunes account.

    I can guarantee, though, that I’ve never met another person here who bothers to use the official account. Everyone else just downloads them for free online and justifies it by saying, “I can’t get it otherwise.”

    If I found out ebooks were going to be the same way, I’d be much less likely to bother buying them at all and stick to print. At least those I can get.

  43. Anonymous said:

    It is possible to download ebooks abroad even when they are restricted to the US. I live in Europe and I do it all the time. Totally legal? I’m not sure. But if I pay for the book, the author and publisher gets their money.
    I do this all the time with barnes and noble ebooks. The website identifies your location by your internet address, so you just need to block their ability to see your location. Download a free program called hotspot shield, log on, and then click through to purchase your book. Once you purchase, you can log off hotspot. It works every time. The only annoyance is that hotspot puts up banner ads and can slow the connection time, but you only need it for the minute it takes to buy a book.

    Again, I justify this to myself because I am paying the purchase price just as if I was purchasing the book in the US. I don’t think anyone is harmed in the process. At least, I hope not.

  44. AnabelleC said:

    Thank you Kristin for explaining!

    Spanish is my mother tongue, but I’d rather read the originals in English (besides, we only get very few authors translated).
    I’ve been increasingly annoyed by the impossibility of buying some e-books from several booksellers due to the region I live in (South America). I didn’t know why.
    It’s a pity authors cannot sell e-book versions directly to the readers (in downloadable form, paying through paypal or some other system).

    And to answer Karen Carr’s comment: if I try to buy some Kindle e-books from a very famous on-line bookseller, they detect my IP address and a message appears saying: “This title is not available for customers from your location in: Latin Am. & Caribbean”. A real pity.

  45. tangel476 said:

    The Powers tobe are trying to control the flow of information. Regional dvd codes are another example to control information. Fortunately linux operating system allow to playback any dvd made so far. A good distro I came across that easy to use for most newbies is Elive Zeitgeist.

  46. neilcab said:

    First of, let me correct you by saying that the Philippines is not a US territory.

    As for the the issue with Kindle ebooks, I am faced with a similar dilemma. I am a Filipino based in China and Amazon wouldn’t allow me to purchase ebooks in my location. I tried using a proxy server but apparently, it didn’t work.

    Expats here are book-starved. Only limited titles are available and they are way expensive than anywhere else I’ve been to.

    I hope Amazon does something about it. China is a huge market. They have no idea how many Kindles are out there in the gray market here. The Chinese read English books too!

  47. Anonymous said:

    Sorry I still don’t get it, I can order paperback versions of the SAME Kindle ebooks that supposedly only have US permissions and they’ll be delivered using Amazon international shipping to my front door in Barbados. Why do the permissions only apply to electronic books?! FYI we’re not only literate in the developing world, we also have tecchnology. Shocking!

  48. Anonymous said:

    I just bought “1001 Internet Jokes II – Travel Edition by D.M. Schwab on an ebook site in Holland.

    So, you can get them!

  49. Alberto said:

    I think it is contraproducent, i go to amazon first becouse i want to support autors, editors and his books, however if i find that annoying message about me not being able to purchase the book couse im not in the usa, then i search for it in the piracy space of the internet (i have got all the books amazon dont let me buy so far) so needer the autor or the editor get my money.
    Also theres a workaround i always try first and sometimes it works, if you have a pobox ar an american adress you can set it ass your main and it will work for a couple of titles (also remember to change your kindle country) after a couple of books they will find you and will draw you to the dark side of the internet… again so use that tip wisely.

  50. Leo said:

    I understand the clarification, but I still think that it is ridiculous. I have always been able to buy books from amazon. But now it ought to be easier, but it isn’t.

    And there will never be a local version of the book in English, because my country official language is not English. So I will have to wait until a translated version is available and I can’t buy the original one, even if I prefer to read in English.

  51. William said:

    This is a real pain in the neck, as I am Irish living in Spain. I have NEVER been able to buy a book in English for my ebook reader. I could buy translated versions of most of what I want to read but, seriously, why should I not be able to buy an ebook from a company in an English-speaking country? It’s so unfair that I can go to Ireland and load up on printed books and legally import them to my own home and read them but not buy an ebook from the very same shop when I am in my home, simply because the point of sale for a purchase on the internet is deemed to be the location of the purchaser’s computer and not the shop doing the selling.
    Someone really needs to fix this situation soon.

  52. William said:

    I also think it is great if writers can put some pressure on their publishers, but I understand that they can only do so much. I doubt too many writers would be totally unconcerned that there are readers out there who would buy their books but can’t. As for pirating ebooks – I would love to do it out of anger at the pettiness of this whole issue but the truth is I can’t bring myself to steal money from the writers who produce the stuff that gives me so much pleasure.

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