Rights are broken!

I can buy a book from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk and get them delivered home to Sweden. That makes perfect sense to me especially since we don’t have an Amazon.se.

I read a lot and mainly English fiction, so I order books all the time and never had a problem buying them anywhere. The mail takes a while though, especially from the states where it can take a month! That is for old fashioned dead-tree paper books. So it is okay for me as a private citizen to ‘import’ a book from the US or the UK even though someone in Sweden might own the right to the Swedish version.

Things with electronic media is horrible different. Ebooks are more restricted than music. You may not buy an ebook directly from an American publisher with a few exceptions like Baen. Amazon.com is okay but then I have to read it on Kindle (which I luckily have on my Ipad). I am not allowed to buy ebooks from amazon.co.uk, those are only for the UK market! Some of my favorite authors are from UK (like Neal Asher, Jaine Fenn) and their ebooks are only available for the UK audience until there is an US release (and i can buy it from Amazon.com).

Now to the reason of this rant. Some series I decided to follow as audio books. Nice to have since I commute one hour per day. Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series was one of them, published by PYR of Penguin, audio version by Tantor media. I own volume one to six as audible audio books.

This summer it was time for number seven Iron Grey Sea. I was a bit confused when it didn’t appear in new releases on audible but sometimes audio books are delayed so I thought nothing about it. Then I read a review online of the audio version. Surprise, it was on audible not for me though. Not for sale in your country.  I still wanted it so I sent a question to audible and got the following reply:

I appreciate your interest in the availability of “Iron Grey Sea”. While we strive to make as many audiobooks as possible available to customers in every country, we must abide by the restrictions set by the publisher. Often, the publisher will secure “world” rights, but at times their distribution rights are more restricted. With that said, I have submitted your request to our Content Team for further research. While we can’t guarantee a positive result, please know that we are constantly working to expand our catalogue.

Apparently it is the publisher. PYR wont even sell me the paper copy on their site, that is promising. Tantor media won’t either. Contacting PYR (Penguin) about the availability is a nightmare, apparently they don’t want contact with readers.

I understand authors makes more money selling rights piecemeal, but something is broken here. No one in Sweden will buy the rights for an audio version of this book, the market is too small, and if they would anyway they would make a Swedish version, which I don’t want.

I want to buy and I am not allowed to, that is broken.

One way to solve this and create more income to authors would be if authors, agents and publishers could make an agreement around selling to areas where no rights has been sold at least until they have been. Maybe with more kickback to the author because it is ‘out of rights’.

I guess all talks about free market and the free movement of trade across borders don’t apply when it is inconvenient to publishers.

And I only want my audio book…


  • At least you can fall back on dead tree books and import CDs. Keep in mind that DVDs are almost as broken with region coding limitations and different releases in different zones (the saving grace being region free players). I feel your frustration and pain and agree!

  • Revenger

    Just to share an experience….

    some years back, when I start to switch from paper book to ebook, I’ve order from Amazon.us as per my normal practice(I used to order a lot of paper book from amazon), surprise, they only sell to US citizen…. and only available in Amazon Kindle, I’ve a no name ebook reader then which only accept .txt file…. No luck.

    so search from internet high and low… found some ebook seller, most don’t sell non DRM (so cannot used on my ebook reader) , and most don’t sell to international customer (ie only US, or UK).

    Finally found the Baen ebook later….. And Now I only able to buy ebook from them, other then that, I’ve to look for ebooks under other means…..

    It’s not that I don’t don’t want to buy from normal means…. but nobody want my money….. and they say piracy is hurting their bottomline….

  • You got to love Baen, they have been doing it right from the beginning

  • Rick York

    You are absolutely right Ove. If I’m willing to pay for a book – e-book, audio or dead tree – why the hell should a publisher care where I buy it?

    The publishers who pull this kind of thing are just stupid. There are a number of book published in the UK which are either not published in the US or seriously delayed (6 months and more). I used to be able to buy them from The Book Depository in the UK which has free international shipping. I did this for several years. Then, all of a sudden, they showed up as “Not in Stock”. Even though I knew they had been published.

    I questioned them but, they never gave me a straight answer. I think they were constrained by the publishers.

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  • Cyrrik Dresden

    Since you buy so many books, it might make sense to get a proxy server account or VPN. That way the e-book seller thinks you’re in the UK or the US.

    It’s not as if you’re trying to pirate anything. You’re still paying the author and an e-distributor…you just won’t happen to be paying the official e-distributor that has the rights to e-distribute to your house. It’s kind of ridiculous that if and when you decide to buy a specific item, that e-distributor has the exclusive right to sell it to you. And even more so that if he doesn’t offer it for sale, you’re prohibited from buying it from from someone else.

    The proxy account strategy is a good work-around. The buyer, the seller and the author are all happy, and your locally exclusive e-distributor remains blissfully unaware of the transaction.