International publishing rights – I’m puzzled…

Many of you might have read my ‘Amazon Chat Rant‘ a few weeks ago.  It all stemmed from the fact that as I live in Canada, I cannot purchase a Kindle eBook on

This is not the first time this has created a problem for me.

I am puzzled because if I were to order a physical book, or any other physical item from I could have it shipped to my Canadian address.  Kindle eBooks however are forbidden.

That got me thinking about NetGalley and Edelweiss titles that I’ve been declined for.  It seems that most of my favourite titles and authors are offered by United Kingdom based publishers.  As a result I get declined citing the ‘out of region‘ reason.  I would completely understand that if it were true across the board – if people in Canada and the United States could not get books from the UK because of international publishing rights.

HOWEVER… I have been pre-approved for three different publishers based in the United Kingdom  AND I have received many books directly from UK based publishers over the past few years.  So clearly, the ‘out of region‘ publishing rule does not always apply.

Can anyone tell me the logic behind international publishing laws?  Failing that, can anyone direct me to a source that explains why there are exceptions to the rules?

Are the publishing rights laws different for Ebooks and physical books?

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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33 Responses to International publishing rights – I’m puzzled…

  1. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins says:

    I suspect it might have something to do with the contract negotiated between the agent/writer and the publishing house? And, feeding into that, the size and relative power/scope of the publishers? Writers might be reluctant to grant international distribution rights to a publisher when they believe they could get a better deal elsewhere from a publisher with bigger reach. I mean, that’s the only reason that make logical sense to me anyway…

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. skyecaitlin says:

    I am so very sorry to hear about this; my close friend lives in Canada, and has shared many limitations between the States and Toronto; it’s even very difficult and expensive just to mail her a card!


    • Since I use the Internet on a daily basis, I guess I assume that since I have online ‘friends’ all over the world – geographical boundaries don’t really matter. But when it comes to many things, postage being one, it matters a great deal. Thanks for understanding Skye.


  4. Tell me about it! I live in Israel and don’t fall into ANY of the regional categories – not even Europe! I wrote about it here


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  6. Personally, I think Amazon are a law unto themselves and probably could make e-book titles available across countries on their sites if they wanted to. It probably benefits them in some obscure tax way not to. I’ve encountered similar problems when gifted ebooks by authors via and I can’t redeem them as I’m in the UK. Same with gift credit generated on which Amazon UK won’t convert to equivalent credit on the UK site. I believe they could if they wanted to. I have a bit more sympathy with NetGalley although I agree the ‘out of jurisdiction’ seems random. Perhaps it depends if the publisher is part of a larger group that operates in the U.S..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Random is the relevant word Cathy! I never thought of your suggestion of a publisher being part of a larger group internationally… though that doesn’t hold true for 2 of my pre-approved publishers: Legend Press and Severn House.


  7. carhicks says:

    I have no idea how this works either. I get the same line about books on Netgalley. I used to get widgets for Debbie Macomber books, then all of a sudden, the PR person said she couldn’t send them to me anymore because the book was only available to US readers. I think that was just their preference. Add a US address to your Amazon account then you can get them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no U.S. address Carla, so that option is not an option for me. I sometime think it is a matter of whether the publisher’s rep takes the time to find out where you live.


  8. Rarely do I get to wear my bibliophile and lawyer hats at the same time! But, there are many data privacy issues and different regulations that come into play regarding the transfer of electronic information across borders that may not necessarily impact your ability to purchase a hardcopy book. It is annoying, because many times the laws are not keeping up with the reality of our online world! There are also licensing issues that may come into play where a seller is authorized to sell in one country but not another. It’s hard to tell what the exact issues are, and whether the sellers are playing it safe or have already encountered legal issues in that respect. It may not even be an issue of the law itself, but of their contract to sell. Either way, that is very annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing your expert knowledge on this subject. 💕 As far as the ‘electronic information across borders’ goes… doesn’t the Internet do that every day, all day? The majority of my blog followers do not live in my country of residence- the Internet seems to ignore geographical boundaries.


  9. Norrie says:

    I don’t know the why exactly, but if you have an address on your account for the relevant country, it will let you buy, as far as i know.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just keep getting the regional licensing story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think it is such a muddled and grey area. The last statement someone had shared in a post that was pulled from Netgalley (wish I had bookmarked the post) that I saw said it was pretty much at the publishers discretion. I have received UK titles physical and Netgalley and am US based.

    My assumption is that this is nmbased on limited numbers of galleys and they are possibly reserving all copies to target the “local” audience for promotion?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great question I’d love know as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. CJR The Brit says:

    I don’t know either but would love to!

    I have the same issue but in reverse! I am in the UK and most of the books I want to request are from American publishing houses and all I can do is ‘wish for it’……knowing that I won’t get to read the book till I purchase on release day!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cathy says:

    I don’t understand this either. We in the UK aren’t allowed to buy kindle books other than Amazon UK. It doesn’t really make sense when, as you say, we’re able to buy the physical book. Same applies to certain audiobooks from Audible, ‘they are not available in your country.’ I haven’t been given a specific reason for a refusal from NetGalley, just a list of possibles. I can’t understand why publishers would limit their buying public.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Cathy! I think that they are doing themselves a disservice. In this small world, with the Internet crossing boundaries of all sorts, it seems ridiculous that Ebooks are not universally available.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Carrie Rubin says:

    I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. I know other Canadians have had similar problems. I imagine it’s very frustrating. Thanks so much for the Twitter share, by the way. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Zoe says:

    I am in the same situation, Lynne, so I am curious to see if you get any further information on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ann Marie says:

    I was always under the impression that NetGalley “out of region” (I’ve gotten them too) requests are based on the publisher’s preference to only allow access to people in regions they’re marketing too. I hadn’t considered that it might be a rights issue. I had no idea Canadians couldn’t purchase Kindle books. Are there other e-readers you can use?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps I was less than clear. Canadians CAN buy Kindle ebooks but they must purchase them from rather than If you have a credit on your account , or if an author gifts you a book on, it is not usable if you live in Canada.
      I use my Kindle Paperwhite exclusively and I love it – I’m just frustrated that my Amazon accounts are not transferable. Also, books that are available in Kindle format in the US are not always available in Kindle format in Canada.


  18. I can’t, and the unfair limitation makes no sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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