The Death of International Editions and Follet Sues BookRenter

It’s not that often that I have the chance to follow legal proceedings. I don’t care much for lawyers or being sued and when I read legal documents, I sometimes get confused and annoyed by the jargon that I frustratedly walk away after wishing for a Cliffs Notes version.For as much as I try to stay away from legalese, two legal matters have crossed my desk and caught my attention in the last week alone. The first: on Friday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that items purchased outside of the United States and then brought in and resold do not apply to the first sale doctrine. Why does this matter? Because this is the law that many resellers have been hiding behind to import international editions of textbooks. In the past, we have covered international/overseas editions and I won’t rehash that here. What you need to know is that the Friday’s ruling paves the way for publishers to go on the offensive against any resellers of these books.

Over the past two years, publishers have been aggressive in their pursuits to remove overseas editions of textbooks from the U.S. market, and with good reason: sales of these editions cut into sales that the domestic copyright holder (the publisher) would otherwise make. Publishers have been successful in getting wholesalers to stop participating in the trade, but this new ruling could have far-reaching arms as it would embolden publishers to clamp down on marketplaces such as AbeBooks and Alibris and force them to regulate individual sellers’ listings  that violate the new law. Only time will tell how this plays out.

In other interesting news, it seems the breakup between Follett and BookRenter is not as amicable as it seemed back when the first announcement of the split was made at CAMEX . In recent legal news, it seems that while Follett has moved forward with its own solution, BookRenter doesn’t want to just give up all those relationships without a bit of a fight. Since I haven’t seen any of the legal contracts, I won’t speculate, but Follett has been known to protect itself when it comes to legal battles so I wonder of BookRenter is really ready for a fight or just trying to delay the inevitable.

Comments (2)

  1. textbooksbargain (@tbooksbargain)

    Hi Jeff, I was reading your article on foreign edition textbooks. I had a hard time understanding the legal jargon, but is the gist of it is that, it is now illegal to buy and sell non-US edition books in the US.


    1. TextbookGuru (Post author)

      From what I read it seems that it is legal for you to purchase non-US edition books. It is illegal for the book seller to sell them to you! I know that sounds strange but that is the loophole the law allows. If you choose to buy the book you can not resell it. So if you are a student you will not be able to sell it at buyback or post it for sale on a marketplace. if you are a book buyer or wholesaler you can not purchase the books, bring them in from oversees and then list them for sale on your site.


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