Geographic Restrictions FAQ
A book I wanted to buy has Geographic Restrictions. What's that?Due to the way book contracts are written, there are times when a particular ebook has geographic restrictions. This means we cannot legally sell the book to people who live in certain countries. Books that have this kind of restriction are marked on their description page, in the information area there will be a list of countries allowed or not allowed to purchase the eBook.
Please note that USA residents can buy every single one of our titles. Canadian residents can buy all but a very tiny handful of titles.
How do you determine what country a customer is in?We look at the billing country of your credit card to determine your location.
What countries does this affect?The majority of our eBooks can be purchased by anyone in the world. All multiformat ebooks are unrestricted, for example.
Every single eBook we sell can be sold to residents of the USA. Almost all of them can be sold to residents of Canada.
Fewer than ten percent of our titles are restricted in any way. In most cases the restrictions are for European countries or Australia, but in some cases the restrictions can be quite complicated and affect many different regions. The eBook's description page will list any restrictions.
Why do publishers make these kinds of restrictions? Don't they want to sell books?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 Although we would tend to agree that this notion is outdated in the world of the Internet and eBooks, the fact is those contracts are still in force.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 books from sale on our web site for all customers.
Aren't you discriminating against certain countries by doing this?We are legally bound to restrict sale of titles that have these limitations to the allowed countries. If we did not, we would lose the books and nobody would be able to buy them from us. We don't like it any more than you do, believe us when we tell you that. It causes us not only to lose sales, but also to get complaints from customers, and we like to keep our customers happy.
Should I complain to the Publisher of the eBook?No. The problem is that the rights to these books is not held by a single publisher. In some countries it might be one publisher, in another country a completely different publisher. The publisher who gives us the right to sell the book only has the right to grant us that for customers who live in the geographic region their contract covers.
What is Fictionwise doing to resolve this situation?Fictionwise is working with our suppliers and publishers to set up a system whereby we run multiple storefronts in different countries. Once we have this system in place, we should be able to sell ebooks that have these kinds of restrictions to many more areas. We would deliver the correct country version of each such ebook in a way that makes sure the correct geographic rights holder gets paid for the book. That's ultimately what people care about. We are trying to make this as transparent to our customers as possible. But it is a complex problem because it deals with issues like tarifs, VAT taxes, currency conversions, and other issues involving multiple parties.