eBooks – The digital Uptake; An International Perspective

On Sunday I wrote about WH Smith and Waterstones refusal to sell me an eBook because my billing address is outside the UK, the latter saying it had been done as a result of legal pressure.  To remind you the email from Waterstones said the following:

From: info <info@waterstones.com>
To: info <info@waterstones.com>
Sent: Tue, 26 October, 2010 16:26:08
Subject: eBooks from Waterstones.com

Dear Customer,

We see from our records that you have previously purchased an eBook from Waterstones.com whilst having a registered address outside of the UK and Ireland.

We regret that  with immediate effect, we are no longer able to sell  eBooks to customers placing an order from anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland.  We have had to take this action to comply with the legal demands of publishers regarding the territories  into which we can sell eBooks.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience  that  this may cause.

Please note: Your previously purchased eBooks are not affected by this and will still be available in your ‘Digital order history’ in your online account.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service

In reply I wrote to them the following:

Dear Waterstones.com

Thank you for this email but I’m sorry I do not understand what you are doing.

Which publishers have taken legal action to stop you selling books, particularly eBooks outside of the UK and Ireland?  Can I still buy other books from you?  If not why can I buy them from Amazon in the UK, America or anywhere I please but not Waterstones?

Yours faithfully

Andrew Tattersall

In reply I received the following email:

Customer Service
Free UK delivery*
New titles Coming soon Bestsellers Offers eBooks Used books Events Waterstone’s CardWaterstone's Card
Dear Andrew, 

Thank you for your email.

I would like to inform you that our digital publishers have blocked eBook sales to international destinations outwith the UK and Republic of Ireland. Until we have permission to sell beyond these borders you will, unfortunately, be unable to purchase eBooks from Waterstones online. I do apologise for this current situation. I have raised your query with our Head Office for their consideration and hope to contact you soon with more information..

Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.

Kind regards,

Devon Walsh
Waterstones Customer Service


As you can see they said they would forward the query to Head Office so I thought I would wait to see if I got an answer from them and yesterday this arrived:

Dear Mr Tattersall,

Thank you for your email. Waterstone’s is a UK based bookseller and bound to honour the rights agreements of the publishers that supply us. To comply with international publishing rights agreements we have removed the ability for overseas customers to download eBooks from Waterstones.com. We apologise for the inconvenience, and will pass on any comments to the relevant publishers.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Waterstones.com Customer Service

As you can see from here just their stanard email sent out to everyone and no attempt to reply to my questions.  So I have emailed them back making my questions in my email more explicit.  I have also emailed the Publishers Association to ask them about what is happening.

In the you couldn’t make it up department we find this years ‘International Conference’ for the Publishers Association is ‘The Digital Uptake; An International Perspective”  The international perspective that I can see is don’t try buying an eBook from an British bookshop or we’ll sue your arse.

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4 Responses to “eBooks – The digital Uptake; An International Perspective”

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