Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I don't understand e-book sales restrictions

We are hearing more and more from Kindle buyers outside the US that they are unable to purchase certain e-books and are given the message on Amazon that the book is not available in your country. I have run into this many times with print books from the UK which are not available here, so I just buy them at Amazon UK and they are sent to me. If I wanted a book published in France, I assume that I could do the same from a French site. Or any other country in the free world. If I can buy a print book which has not been published in the U.S., why not an e-book? Can anyone point me to the explanation of this?


  1. Some light is shed on this irritating problem by the article at

  2. Let me give you some context to justify "irritating" and "problem."

    I live in Belgium. I read in English. When I go to the UK, I walk into any bookseller and buy paper-and-ink books for the same price as any honest British citizen. Nobody asks me where I'm "registered." When I take my Kindle to the UK, I cannot buy ANY books from the UK Amazon. None - exactly the number I can buy while sitting at my desk in Belgium. Amazon directs me to the US (.com) outlet, which sometimes allows me to buy the same book as a US-based Kindler would, but for more money. Sometimes, but not always.

    So there are e-books that any US or UK registered owner could buy that I cannot, because - bad person! - I live outside the hallowed ground. This even applies to a substantial fraction of the books that a US-registered owner can get FREE. Yes, you can download books free that I cannot download at all. Logic? To add further insult to injury, even the books that are free to you and that Amazon allows me to download cost me money - $2.50 each.

    This regionalism is not exactly one of the advertised selling points of Kindle. I have taken to calling my device the Swindle.

    Incidentally, the European Union exists in great part to allow free exchange of goods across its internal borders. It is illegal to prevent such free exchange. I have asked someone in the Directorate General for Competition to examine the legality of this place-based discrimination.