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Old 03-13-2011, 05:25 PM   #1
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Buying ebooks not available outside the US

Hi, all. I'm wondering if there's a (legal) way of buying ebooks normally unavailable outside certain areas (i.e. the USA).

In particular, I'm trying to find an ebook copy of Larry's Party by Carol Shields available in Canada. What makes this example really burn me is that it's a Canadian novel, with Canadian characters, by a Canadian authour. But it's (presumably) an American publisher, so I can't get the freaking book!

Any way to get around this? I'd love to get a copy of this book for my ebook collection, and I don't have the resources to move to the States to get it.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:08 PM   #2
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Are there ways around it?

Yes

Are there legal ways around it?

More questionable. Basically you are going to have to lie to the seller and give a fake address.

Your mission, should you choose accept, is to find a way to make the store you choose to buy the book from think you are an American. This is done in varying manner using addresses such as ... say the Holiday Inn Express in Chicago ... logging into the store website via a US VPN server and making payment for the book via a gift card instead of your credit card.

I think I've seen BooksOnBoard mentioned here as a store that is fairly easy to work around. You might try the search function to see what you can dig up. I know it is quite do-able on Amazon but then you'll run into DRM/Format issues as well as your geographic restrictions.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:33 PM   #3
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Other Carol Shield's books from the same publisher are available in ebook format in Canada. I would guess that this book did not have the ebook rights provision, or at least not the same ones. If so, it would be up to the author and her agent to negotiate those rights with the publisher.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanguard3000 View Post
Hi, all. I'm wondering if there's a (legal) way of buying ebooks normally unavailable outside certain areas (i.e. the USA).

In particular, I'm trying to find an ebook copy of Larry's Party by Carol Shields available in Canada. What makes this example really burn me is that it's a Canadian novel, with Canadian characters, by a Canadian authour. But it's (presumably) an American publisher, so I can't get the freaking book!

Any way to get around this? I'd love to get a copy of this book for my ebook collection, and I don't have the resources to move to the States to get it.
It's all about the copyright and how restrictive these agreements are in today's digital age. Some of the issue lay with the rights holders not negotiating with other regions. The rest lay with the countries in question and how they handle printed media. After reading here I have been shocked to read the protectionist laws on the books of some countries about books. Still I don't fault those countries since bookshops employ people and add to the coffers needed to run a country. Still some countries have such restrictive anti-competitive laws it's scary for the people of those countries who just want to read.

The world is just a complicated place that has yet to grow with the explosion of the new digital age.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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I can't answer your question (or rather, I haven't yet tried out the proposed solution) ... but you have my heartfelt sympathy.

Georestrictions are a pain to start with, but nothing makes me wilder than being unable to buy a Canadian book by a Canadian author from WITHIN Canada! For once those georestrictions ought to be on our side, eh?
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Old 03-14-2011, 12:49 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the suggestions, abookreader in particular. I'll have to try some things out...
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:07 PM   #7
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What about going in the opposite direction? I'm in the U.S., is there a simple way to buy an e-book from a store in the UK?
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:12 PM   #8
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Same procedure, I am afraid, only the other way round. Make them believe you actually are in the UK.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:17 PM   #9
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Are the restrictions supposed to limit purchases to citizens of that country, residents of that country, or people who are currently IN that country? If buyers are supposed to be residents how long do you need to live there to qualify as a resident?
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:28 PM   #10
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I think being in country should suffice.
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:05 PM   #11
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Are the restrictions supposed to limit purchases to citizens of that country, residents of that country, or people who are currently IN that country? If buyers are supposed to be residents how long do you need to live there to qualify as a resident?
Supposed to limit: Distributors in that country to only sell within their country. A book distributor in the US is generally not allowed to sell to bookstores in the UK. Bookstores, OTOH, are allowed to sell to anyone who walks in their doors, and are even allowed to ship overseas; a person in the UK can order a book from Amazon US, pay a bit more for shipping, and have it sent to them.

Actual limit: Location of (1) servers of one's current IP address and (2) main office of bank issuing one's credit card. Physical location is irrelevant; a person who lives in the UK and is visiting the US for a couple of weeks still can't order ebooks from Amazon, unless he finds a way to set up a payment account linked to a US bank.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:30 PM   #12
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:16 PM   #13
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Are the restrictions supposed to limit purchases to citizens of that country, residents of that country, or people who are currently IN that country? If buyers are supposed to be residents how long do you need to live there to qualify as a resident?
There's one other feature to geographical restrictions - VAT. In theory, if you go to the US, load up on books, and bring them back home with you to [any country with VAT], you are supposed to pay the VAT on them when entering your country. (At least if the value of the stuff you're bringing back exceeds some limit.)

If a bookseller in the US ships you books, the package goes through some sort of customs process and, depending on the country and the value of the shipment, you may get hit for the VAT on your foreign purchases. Some booksellers (and other vendors) are wise to this and will low-ball the value of the shipment on the customs forms.

In most countries, p-books are low-rated for VAT anyhow. But "computer files" (which is how e-books are categorized) are full-freight VAT rated - at least in Europe.

What I don't get is that Amazon has managed the VAT issue for a long time now, particularly from their UK site. I buy lots of stuff from the UK site, and I'm charged the French VAT rate, no problem. Not sure why they won't sell e-books to those of us outside the UK when they'll ship us p-books with the appropriate adjustment for the VAT.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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It's all about the copyright and how restrictive these agreements are in today's digital age.
Geographical restrictions have nothing whatsoever to do with copyright. They are purely a matter of regional book distribution contracts.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:48 PM   #15
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I can import the hardcopy so I don't see anything wrong about circumventing geographical restrictions other than the obvious fraud involved. I just switch my Amazon account to the US using my relative's address and use Hotspot Shield to hide my IP. I don't even use a gift card, if your card is already set as 1-click before you switch your Kindle location then you shouldn't need a gift card.
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