Sunday, November 07, 2010


One of the things that I was conscious of when I bought my ereader is that whilst I was okay with talking about it on my blog, I didn't want to become a place where every post was ereader this and ebook that. I know from when I didn't have one that repetitiveness can begin to be a bit preachy! Have I mentioned though that I really love it so far, although there is one pretty big issue and that relates to geographical rights and how they affect this Australian reader!

Not too long ago, Diana Gabaldon posted on her blog about geographical rights specifically in relation to the fact that her graphic novel, The Exile, was not being published anywhere other than the US, Canada and Netherlands. I think though, that the extension to ebooks is quite logical

Well, see, the way that publishing works is that a publishing company buys certain specific _rights_ to a book. If you have a decent agent, you _don’t_ sell “worldwide rights” to your manuscript; the agent makes separate deals with individual publishers in different countries. Each publishing contract defines exactly which rights you’re selling—and the “exclusive territory” in which the book can be sold.

Which means that not all publishers buy all books at the same time—and not all publishers choose to promote the books they have in the same way, either.
When I first got my ereader, I wanted to be sure that I didn't go nuts buying books in the same ways that I don't go nuts in buying paper books, so I gave careful thought to decision of what book I was going to buy as my first ever ebook purchase. Once that decision was made, I set off to the internet places that I had heard would like my money. After trying a couple of different places, it began to look to me as though it wasn't yet available in ebook. I happened to mention that I couldn't find it, and was prepared to leave it at that, when Tanabata said, oh but it is available and sent me the link. I was aware that there were some geographical restrictions around, but given that Tanabata lives in Japan, it was a little surprising that she could buy the book, but I couldn't! As per the above, the book wasn't available in my region due to geographical restrictions.

Whilst I understand that there are different arms of the same publisher, it seems a little strange that I can buy a copy of a paper book from overseas with no difficulty whatsoever, but can't do the same for an ebook. There are authors who I want to support but I can't in my preferred format.

I am certainly not the first to be frustrated by this issue. Over the last few weeks, there have been posts from Bernadette at Reactions to Reading,  Sarah from Monkey Bear Reviews, and this week at Dear Author where the post gained 213 comments (so far), many of which were very interesting in themselves, including some discussion regarding piracy, something that rightly pushes the hot buttons for many authors.

One of the things to come out of the Dear Author discussion was a suggestion that there be somewhere people who want to buy a book, but can't or won't for whatever reason, can let publisher's know that they are losing sales from readers who want to be able to support the authors they love. Thus was born.

From the About page:

Every day an author and a publisher lose out on a sale of book.  This is a site for readers to tell the world about the lost sale whether it is because of price, territorial restrictions or general availability. There are a whole host of reasons a particular book is not distributed all over the world. Sometimes agents advise their authors to sell only domestic rights which usually means US or UK get the goods. Sometimes publishers aren’t exploiting those rights.
So if you are missing out on being able to buy the books you want to buy, whether it be a paper book, or ebook format, then add your links and hopefully let publishers know that they really are losing sales every day.

I was just about to post this, when I noticed that at Dear Author they have just posted a follow up post about Geographical Restrictions, and once again it is very informative, particularly for those of us who have bought an ereader and happen to live outside the US in particular.


  1. I've come across this problem recently when I saw (from your blog) that Kate Atkinson has a new book out. I LOVE the Jackson Brodie series and this is an auto-buy for me, but instead of getting it shipped from the UK, how much easier to just click and read it on my ipod?

    Of course, I can't, because my apple account it registered in the U.S. No Atkinson ebook for me until next February, when the hardback comes out in the States.

    I'm sure to just order it before then from book depository, but it's definitely not as quick or convenient and it seems a silly technicality.

  2. "it seems a little strange that I can buy a copy of a paper book from overseas with no difficulty whatsoever, but can't do the same for an ebook"

    Exactly! I understand about territorial rights but in today's world when you can order a book from Amazon or The Book Depository and have it shipped almost anywhere, why are digital books so restricted?
    And since most ebooks are DRM-protected, you can't even buy a book to send a friend overseas.
    I hope that as ebooks and the technology surrounding them become more and more common, these issues will sort themselves out. Here's hoping anyway.

  3. Wow, this is an intriguing doesn't affect me at this point, since I don't have an e-reader. However, that could change at any time, as I run out of bookshelves and still want to buy books.

    Here's my salon post today:

    Click on my name....

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  5. This is a GREAT idea, and I am so glad that someone devoted a site to it! I normally don't have problems getting the book I want in whichever format I want it in, but it's great for those readers who can't say the same. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  6. What an excellent site! Thank you for posting a link to it. This whole DRM issue needs to get resolved in a hurry. Publishers can't continue to sit back and hope to work it out at 'some point in the future'.

  7. Excellent idea. I have submitted a book already.