Trudi Canavan

bestselling author of The Black Magician Trilogy

Ebook Availability

I’ve been wanting to find out how hard it is to buy eBooks of my books for a while now, so I’ve been doing some investigation. First I checked my contracts. Sure enough, all eBook rights for all books in all english language territories have been sold. That means it’s all out of my hands, and responsibility falls down (or goes up) the line to the publishers and retailers. Here’s which publishers own which books:

Australasia:
HarperCollins Publishers Australia hold the rights for the Black Magician Trilogy and Age of the Five trilogy.
Little Brown hold the rights for the The Magician’s Apprentice and the Traitor Spy Trilogy.

UK (Commonwealth minus Australasia):
Little Brown hold the rights for the Black Magician Trilogy, Age of the Five, The Magician’s Apprentice and the Traitor Spy Trilogy.

US (and most of the rest of the world):
HarperCollins Publishers hold the rights for the Black Magician Trilogy and Age of the Five trilogy.
Little Brown hold the rights for the The Magician’s Apprentice and the Traitor Spy Trilogy.

Hunting around the internet, I sighted (based on the cover art) editions of all of my books from all territories, so it looks like the publishers have their act together, when it comes to producing them. However, when I hunted around the retailers’ sites, things got a bit odd.

I started with Amazon.com. If you search under ‘books’ and my name, you’ll find Kindle editions using the HarperCollins US cover of my first two trilogies, but when you click on them you get the HarperCollins Australia covers. (Buyers may want to note: The Novice doesn’t come up as an eBook under this search string, but if you search under ‘Kindle Store’ and my name it does appear.)

However, only the second book of the Age of the Five trilogy, Last of the Wilds is available. Not the first. Not the last.

On the Amazon.co.uk site different searches produce different eBook covers as well. If you search in the ‘Kindle Store’ you get only the UK versions. Search under ‘books’ and you can find the US covers, but when you select Kindle Edition it switches to the UK cover. Thankfully all of my books appear to be available (though only to UK customers, I assume).

Apple’s iBookstore only has Last of the Wilds and The Ambassador’s Mission. Kobo only has Priestess of the White and Last of the Wilds.

I have no idea why these big retailers don’t stock all of my books.

Most frustrating of all to me, as a customer, is that none of these sites indicate if any of the books are available to Australian customers, and I don’t want to have to sign up to Amazon or Kobo and attempt to buy my own book to find out. Territorial rights issues are not going to go away, so retailers really ought to be giving customers this information so they aren’t completely put off by the eBook buying experience.

A great example of this is a US based site called eBooks.com, that does stock all of my books. Each book entry has a “For copyright reasons, this ebook is only available to customers in this list of countries” link so you can check if it’s available. However, it lists The Magician’s Apprentice and The Ambassador’s Mission as available only in the United States, which is odd because those eBooks are produced by Orbit and had a worldwide release so there should be no territorial issues. I’d assumed this was because the site had a general policy of only selling within the US, but to my amusement I found that you can buy all of my other books from huge list of countries outside the US. You can buy my books if you order from Afganistan, Haiti, Bangladesh, China and Somalia, but not Australia. Still, it’s nice to know people in these countries can order my books as eBooks if they’d like to.

To research availability for Australian version of my eBooks, I tried a few local online stores (Angus & Roberston, Borders) and was disappointed to see how few of my books were available. I found only two books from my second trilogy on one site, and one on the other. I expected they’d at least have The Magician’s Apprentice and The Ambassador’s Mission (no territorial issues, blah blah).

So, while I started with one set of questions, I now have a whole new set of questions:

Can customers in Australia buy eBook version of my books from Amazon.com, iBookstore and Kobo? Has anybody managed to? Let me know!

Why aren’t Australian online stores stocking the eBooks of my books?

Why isn’t the full set of Age of the Five available on Amazon.com, when it is on at least one other US-accessible eBook site?

I will try to find out the answer to these questions, but what I can tell you, if you’re having trouble getting hold of my books as eBooks, is that they should be available. I don’t know why retailers aren’t listing all of my books, but hey, if customers start demanding a product a seller is crazy to not do something about stocking it, right? If you want it, ask for it.

29 Responses »

  1. Hi,
    I have a problem to get even your paper books in the Czech Republic. I am sad because of it.

    Cheers,
    I.

  2. Hello from Virginia, USA. I really have enjoyed your books. I purchased the first book in the Black Magicians Trilogy in paperback and loved it. I bought a Nook Color for Christmas and promptly bought the remaining two books and The Magicians Apprentice. When I discovered The Ambassadors Mission, I got that one too (finished reading it today). All great reads. The prices are comparable to paperback. I think I paid the most ($12.99) for the last two books (most recently released). The others were $7.99. I like the convenience of getting the books as I find them, not reading about them and then having to wait for an order. Please write faster – I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  3. Hi Trudy

    I am from a little country called South Africa at the southern tip of Africa and I thought I would add my two cents regarding availability of your eBooks…

    I basically have one option when buying an eBook: amazon.com
    The UK amazon site refuses to sell most of your eBooks to me because of my location, quoting copy right issues and so forth.

    I recently moved my reading experience from real paper to electronic paper as the costs of your new book in hard cover in my country was about 4 times that of the eBook, roughly 30 pounds, that however has no relevance to this discussion. I was very happy to learn that I could purchase your books online only to realize that they were not available to me because I am not residing in the UK.

    The story does however not end there…being fairly tenacious and wanting to read your new book without incurring bankruptcy I tried to bypass the issue. I was successful and I managed to buy an electronic copy of The Ambassadors’ Mission. I have finished your book and would like to say thank you for a great read. As for how I bypassed the issue I think that should remain my secret, suffice it to say that I did pay for it and you should eventually get the proceeds from the sale 🙂 It would have been easier though had the book been available in South Africa.

    Kind Regards

  4. I was going to buy a book today and I’d settled on the Ambassadors mission. At 5.99 for the paperback in the UK i consider this great value, and also the hardback is nicely priced.. all things out of an authors control when dealing with a publisher.

    However I no longer buy books in hard format if an ebook exists, but I also will not pay in excess of a paper backs price for an ebook, whilst this is not the fault of the author it should be noted I will just not buy these books and am content to “miss out”

    The pricing of ebooks to be more expensive than paperbacks is unjustified in my opinion, and rather than voice my concerns to a publisher who likely or not will ignore me, I thought I’d tell the author “who ultimately misses out” that this is the case.

    Sorry to put a downer on the whole thing under something you likely cannot control but I thought you should know.

    Its a shame as I really enjoy your books.

    • As someone who used to run a business, this idea that a product should cost more because it’s better is… amusing.

      But as far as your complaint goes, I can’t comment because there could be all sorts of reasons why the paperback is cheap. It may be a on a big store discount. From what I recall, in those cases authors get a reduced royalty. It could be excess or damaged stock. The shop itself could be having a sale, getting rid of excess stock at a loss.

      As for ebook prices, as I’ve said before I don’t want to discuss this. I know a lot more than the average person on the street about the publishing industry, and yet I don’t feel I know enough to judge what a fair price is. Eventually it’ll settle between what a publishing company needs to make to stay afloat, and what a customer is willing to pay.

      • Ok trudi,

        Thanks for your response, I did not realise this topic was not something you wanted to discuss and so I will do so no further, it does not affect that I like your writing 🙂

        krystan

  5. Hmm, could this phenomenon be linked to the fact that it is way easier to enforce regional licensing on physical books than on ebooks? And the publishers want to keep that control tight hence ebooks are low priority and all kinds of kinky methods are tried to achieve some regional control with em, when they are made available at all?

    That is to say there is a “natural” burden to buy physical books from far away countries. Shipping costs and delivery time. Plus it’s trivial to check a postal address for which country it belongs to. So for the seller / publisher side the control is tight and effective, if they want to enforce it.

    That gets a lot harder on e-books. The delivery side does not allow to *reliably* check the country of the buyer at all any more. My .net email doesn’t give away the country and on a download the geolocation thing of the IP is trivial to change via a proxy.
    The only way to attempt checking the buyers location would be the payment data. But afaik there are prepaid CC’s available from other countries – hence one could change one’s CC location with that. Same with paypal, nothing keeping me from paying with a paypal account formally registered in a suitable country. And the world is getting more global all the time when it comes to these things.

    What do you think, is that possibly the issue behind all this?

  6. Any chance that The Mad Apprentice will come out as an ebook for us in the UK? I’m a big fan and I just found out this week that there was a novella I hadn’t read that’s only available in Australia

    • It will eventually be available as part on an anthology, but I’ve put off releasing an anthology for a couple of years because I have plans to write some stories that relate to my next series.

  7. I think it’s pretty standard now that when you’re logged into any given retailer, the only books to show are the ones that are available to you based on your address and/or credit card address. So make sure you’re logged before you search for books or you may find them and then, when you log in to buy, they disappear!

    • That’s how it should be. I tried buying an ebook from a local online bookstore recently and got to the point where I’d paid for it, then got an email telling me it wasn’t available and they were refunding my money.

  8. All 8 of your books are available from Waterstones.com as ebooks, Trudi. Not sure how it works in terms of licensing, but it is ebook format as opposed to the kindle format that only works on kindle readers and not normal ereader.

    From
    Waterstones employee #185662 (:P)

  9. Here in the UK all of your books are available as eBooks at waterstones.co.uk, but they are only available to UK and Ireland customers.

  10. Because I can’t help myself, I had a go at buying from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk

    I was able to purchase The Novice from Amazon – didn’t have any issues with me being an Aussie. The UK site, however, did and wouldn’t let me purchase.

    Interestingly, the copy from the US site is the Australian copyrighted version. So here’s what I’m thinking:

    Australian copyrighted books can be bought from the US story by Australians, but the UK store sells only UK copyrighted books so we Aussies can’t buy them.

    God, this just gets more confusing every time I look at it 🙂

    • That’s what I suspected. Thanks for checking – and buying!!! – the books to find out.

      I suspect that the big shiny new worldwide Voyager imprint arrangement might have something to do with the interchangeability of the editions on Amazon. Just as HC US used to acquire the edited ms from HC Aust so they didn’t have to do another edit, they may have ‘acquired’ the HC Aust digital form to use as their ‘US’ edition.

  11. FWIW from the US here’s what I see for Kindle:

    Ambassador’s Mission – $12.99
    Black Magician 1-3 – $7.99 each
    The Rogue – $12.99 preorder
    Magician’s Apprentice – $7.99
    Age of the Five Gods 1-3 – $7.99 each

    BN lists the same ones, for the same prices, except the preorder for the nook. They also list a couple of foreign-language editions.

    I suspect the high prices on the ebook editions are hurting your sales though.

  12. on Amazon Kindle, as a logged-in Australian customer, I see The Ambassador’s Mission, Magician’s Apprentice, Last of the Wilds, High Lord, Magician’s Guild and The Novice.

    at Apple iBookstore, only The Ambassador’s Mission and Last of the Wilds.

    Kobo.com (which ‘powers’ Borders & A&R but which is a separate site with its own catalogue) only Priestess of the White, Last of the Wilds

    Borders.com.au: only Priestess of the White, Last of the Wilds

    Dymocks.com.au: a search for ‘Canavan’ came up with a Louis L’Amour western!

    • And thanks for checking which books you have access to. So if you’re logged into Amazon, only the books available to Australian appear?

      • yes, if your account has an Australian postal address, credit card or IP address (I’m not exactly sure which it is), Amazon will only display Kindle titles available to you in your territory.

        Another rather crazy example is Waterstone’s in the UK, which recently *completely stopped* selling ebooks to customers unless they are in the UK or Ireland (regardless of the territorial rights situation for each title)

        • Thanks for clarifying the Amazon thing. It’s good to know, as I can get Paul to check if the situation has changed from time to time (he has an Amazon account).

          The Waterstones decision does seem a bit mad, but at least they sell to their own country. eBooks.com only selling the US version of my books when they’re actually based in Australia is pretty nuts. Which surely goes against parallel importation rules. Aren’t they supposed to sell the local product, and only sell an overseas one if a local one is not available?

          • Actually – being in Ireland and having tried to buy The Ambassador’s Mission from Waterstones 4 weeks ago – I can tell you that I faced these terroritial issues. Waterstones allowed me to buy the book but when it came to downloading it told me “due to geographic rights restrictions, this title cannot be downloaded to the current country code (code = IE)”. Contacting the team, I was told there was no timescale for resolution to this problem. I got a refund, went into a bookstore and bought the paperback.

            I tried to buy Dance With Dragons last week and received the same error so obviously this issue is not fixed.

            It’s frustrating considering I only received my e-reader in late April. I managed to buy 20 ebooks successfully from the site between then and May but now it seems like that’s my lot.

  13. ebooks.com is actually Australian-based (in Perth). It was one of the ebook pioneers, established in the late 1990s. Ebooks.com is (or was) the provider for Dymocks’ ebook range.

    • Ah! Thank you for that info. Strange, then, that none of my books are available for Australians, then.

      • Dear Trudi,
        This is such a fascinating trawl and again confirms my opinion that this new technology has been coming for such a long time and now it’s here and most publishers don’t have a clue what they are doing. They are going to various groups of “bookshops in the sky” and entering into negotiations without a business model. Bit like the bull running down the street, everyone knows he is there and coming towards the china shop. Well now he’s actually in the shop! I’ve also had three major publishers tell me they cannot give a copy of an e-book to my authors! Hello!

        • The author copies issue is one I wish I’d been aware of years ago. Some of my contracts say I can ask in writing for a copy. I never thought I’d be needing ebook versions, but now that ebook viewing technology is here I can see that having a copy would be handy, and it would be nice to be able to have the option of giving digital versions of books to reviewers, interviewers or feedback readers, if that suits them better.