Blog post
tagged Ebooks

Why I don't get geographic restrictions on ebook sales

The situation is this: I live in Germany. I prefer reading books by English-language authors untranslated. I'm running out of shelf space, and space for shelves, so I'd like to switch to reading ebooks.

The problem: Most shops won't let me buy English language ebooks. Amazon is a bit of an exception, but I don't want to support them. (Short version: I wouldn't be able to read most German ebooks, since Kindle doesn't support epub files; I could never switch to a reader from another company thanks to amazon's proprietary format being proprietary; and most of their books cost an extra $2.30 over here.)

The reason has something to do with publishing/distribution rights that the general public just doesn't know about.

One bit of information what it is good for can be found in a comment thread on - if all publishing rights would be sold worldwide, rather than for a local market, only authors who sold well worldwide would be published, not writers who appealed "only" to the US or UK market.

The fact-of-life that disrupts my attempts at understanding the whole local distribution thing from my perspective as a reader - particularly since one argument runs on the lines of "ebooks fall under the same contracts as print books" - is this: I can buy paper books from a lot of US publishers without problems. sells books from US and UK publishers for their cover price converted to euros according to current exchange rate, without any additional shipping charges. Are they breaking a contract by doing this? If amazon is not allowed to sell The Mermaid's Madness to me as an ebook, why are they allowed to sell it to me as a paper book?
If a writer sells only in the US well enough for a publisher to pick them up, why should the "too small" audiences in the rest of the world be banned from buying their books?

I don't get it.

Blog tags: Ebooks Thoughts


It's more than a bit annoying because the Internet makes it so easy to buy things from other countries, and there isn't shipping and import/export costs to think about. I mean, if you buy from a US author from a US company, the author and publisher are getting paid properly, and the only time Germany enters into it is when the data gets to you. It would be different if you were buying a German translation, which I can understand getting someone local to handle it. Or even a paper book, where you might want a local publisher to handle things like 'getting it on shelves' and marketing.

I think it's something that needs to change as more people essentially end up buying data (Mp3s, video files, eBooks) instead of physical things with the data stored on them. The current model seems to be built around the old idea of intellectual property being wedded to a medium that can be manufactured and transported.

(I also wonder if a lot about Amazon is just that Amazon is big enough that it can do whatever the hell it wants. Or that part of its deal with Kindles is that 'we can sell Kindle files to anyone who owns a Kindle'.)