ebooks now geographically restricted

I have been reading ebooks for years. As I have posted previoiusly, my main source has been from ereader.com (now owned by fictionwise.com itself owned by Barnes & Noble). There is an ereader format reader available for most capable mobile phones, PDAs and PCs. For years I used various models of the IPAQ PDA but have recently started to use the iPhone application.

I fancied some new books last night. In fact, I fancied reading a new Star Trek book. I went online to the store on my iphone, browsed the latest Star Trek books and added one to the basked. I then got a warning that the book was “geographically restricted” and I could only buy it if I used a credit/debit card with an American billing address.

This is a whole new experience. It even impacts books that I have purchased in the past (i.e. I would not now be able to buy them).

I do not believe the restrictions are imposed at the desire of the book store. On their FAQ on the matter, they say: “The paper book business has always had the notion of being able to sell the rights of a particular book to different publishers by geographic region. Although we would tend to agree that this notion is outdated in the world of the Internet and eBooks, the fact is those contracts are still in force. If publishers do not take steps to ensure their eBook sales are adhering to the terms of those contracts, they are subject to legal action from whatever other publisher has licensed the rights to the eBook in other countries. Effectively, the publisher’s hands are tied. As such, they require us to enforce these restrictions. If we did not obey the publisher’s wishes, the publisher would withdraw the eBooks from sale on our web site for all customers.”

They are working on opening country specific stores. In the meantime, I have asked that they provide some kind of filtering so that I do not waste time looking at books I subsequently find I am unable to purchase.

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