Publishers, they just don’t seem to get it…

I received an email from Waterstones the bookshop, this morning.  It read as follows:

Dear Customer,

We see from our records that you have previously purchased an eBook from Waterstones.com whilst having a registered address outside of the UK and Ireland.

We regret that  with immediate effect, we are no longer able to sell  eBooks to customers placing an order from anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland.  We have had to take this action to comply with the legal demands of publishers regarding the territories  into which we can sell eBooks.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Please note: Your previously purchased eBooks are not affected by this and will still be available in your ‘Digital order history’ in your online account.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service

On the surface this seemed okay, until I remembered that their website is accessible from any point on the planet’s surface from which one can get a wi-fi signal, and based on experience they don’t care where you are if you want to buy a physical book and get charged an arm and a leg for the postage.

So now I am confused because apparently costing a publisher physical production costs, a bookstore storage and shipping costs, and the whole environmental impact of a physical book is fine and dandy, but by buying an e-book I can somehow destabilise the world of international publishing?  How can corporate territories be harmed by a PDF but not by 6oz of finest pulped tree lovingly bound?

As we increasingly become a global market it seems almost archaic to limit sales based on regions.  I understand that some countries may not want a certain book sold within their borders, but this isn’t global politics we’re discussing, this is a a book corporation limiting its own sales! If I take my Nook to England with me is everything magically alright?  If I use my UK mailing address do I suddenly become less of a risk?

One minute they’re complaining digital sales aren’t worth the effort, and the next minute it is this…they just don’t seem to get it.

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One comment

  1. uphilldowndale · October 27, 2010

    It’s not just you! Libraries face problems too
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/26/libraries-ebook-restrictions

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