Last Thursday, I purchased an international version of a textbook for a course that I'm about to take. The list price is USD 233.33. Amazon has it for USD 180.40. That's a lot of money. After shopping around online, I found it for USD 48.98, shipped, which was the version that I bought. I sent that amount through PayPal to the seller, who appears to be in Hong Kong, although the book, itself, came from Germany.
When the book arrived, I found the following sidebar on the back cover:
This is a special edition of an established title widely used by colleges and universities throughout the world. Pearson published this exclusive edition for the benefit of students outside the United States and Canada. If you purchased this book within the United States of Canada you should be aware that it has been imported without the approval of the Publisher or the Author.
Person International Edition
There are three aspects to this note that are interesting. First, only barristers would capitalise 'publisher' and 'author'. That's the way that it's done in legal agreements (i.e. contracts). Second, how is an 'exclusive edition' with the identical text beneficial to students outside, but not inside, the United States and Canada? What, exactly, is the nature of this 'exclusive' edition that gives it such a remarkable property? Perhaps it's that this version is softcover, as opposed to hardcover. However, frankly, I don't feel like paying USD140 more for a hardcover book. Third, what is the significance of the importation of this 'exclusive' edition not being approved by the publisher or author? Pearson seem to be saying, 'You may think that you're getting away with it, but we are going to track you down, sue your arse, and take your money by force, thief!'
The 'Publisher' and 'Author' should be aware that I do not approve of paying USD180.40 plus tax and shipping costs unnecessarily for a book for which I could--and did--pay USD48.98, quite legally. While I'm quite confident that the 'Publisher' and 'Author'--or, let's be honest, just the 'Publisher'--would love to pocket $130 for giving me nothing in return, I do not consent to such parasitism.
Copyright infringement is a serious crime. If you doubt this, read the bottom of this page, written by a barrister:
It's a shame that the decent people who go to the trouble of writing books hardly make any money, if at all, while publishers hold them hostage and make a fortune. Even worse, publishers are trying to control second-hand sales. When I buy a paper book, I've obviously purchased it. It's mine. I can sell it to you, if I wish, and in doing so, the publisher isn't entitled to make money on that second sale. Yet that's exactly what they're trying to do. They're fighting very hard to prevent the importation of international books, but the US Supreme Court has ruled that that's perfectly legal.
Why, exactly, would it cost USD 48.98 to purchase a book in Singapore, for instance, but USD 180.40 in the United States?
Something smells fishy to me, ...
Draw your own conclusions.