Charles Stross on just what the hell is going on with region restrictions for books, anyway?

As someone who lives in an English-language market that nevertheless often gets books months later than the US or UK (assuming we get them at all), all I can say this: yes this. It’s especially egregious nowadays with online book buying and the physical/digital split. It’s not uncommon to find a book, released in the US but not Australia, can be imported in print format but not legally bought as an ebook.

Which, yanno. From a consumer point of view? Not so great for encouraging the legal purchase of titles, yanno. (See also this comment.)

Of course, as Stross points out:

So what started out as a natural side-effect of books being heavy and not worth shipping across oceans has turned into a royal pain in the ass for readers—but where the desired solution for the readers (global sales, a flat worldwide market) will cause significant pain to the authors in the medium term (and by “pain” and “medium”, I invite you to consider how you’d reply to a proposal that you take a 20-40% pay cut for 3-5 years).

(Also I’m a bit curious about Stross mentioning Orbit as a globally operating publisher of SFF, because a non-zero number of books branded as Orbit in the US are released here under Hachette’s UK-based Orion imprint. Notably this isn’t all Orbit books, just some of them. So… IDEK. Imprints, amirite?)

Also, for the record: One of the excuses often given for why bookselling is so broken in Australia is that the higher prices and import restrictions are to “protect local authors”. As a local author who had to go overseas to sell her work–and I did try and sell it locally, believe me–you can probably guess what I think of this…