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Do You Buy Science Fiction Books Overseas?

Pyr editor Lou Anders has posted an appeal to U.S. readers to buy American (or both American and U.K.):

[I]f you live here in North American, can I ask you a favor, on behalf of myself, Pyr, and both of these authors? Please wait for our edition. I didn’t used to think that it mattered. Sometimes I liked the UK cover better than the US, or I wanted a hardcover when the US publisher only brought the book out in trade paperback or mass market. Or I didn’t want to wait […] But now I know better. There are a long list of deserving British and Australian authors that you don’t see over here. There are others that you don’t see here any more. Science fiction is not such a big market that the few hundred editions that slip through the specialty shops, or get shipped from don’t make a difference.

This is an interesting plea that I think goes beyond the “buy our brand” message that some will undoubtedly take this for, regardless of the examples and pointers to other publishers’ books that are pointed out.

There’s some good comments on Lou’s blog and on Emerald City. SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler also comments.

I’ve personally never bought a book from outside the U.S. There’s plenty to read here and there was never a book that was published that I just had to have that warranted the extra charge. (Although the Gollancz Masterworks editions come darn close.)

I do wonder how many of our readers buy books overseas. (I’m extending this to out non-U.S. readers who may buy U.S. books before they are available locally.) So, have you ever purchased a science fiction book (or any book, really) from another country? For what reason?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

14 Comments on Do You Buy Science Fiction Books Overseas?

  1. I live in Spain and it is quite hard to get SF books in English around here. Buying them online from another country is usually cheaper and faster than going to the local bookstore. I’ve bought a lot of SF books from which offers free deilivery to Western Europe. Recently I’ve discovered which also has free delivery to Europe (and USA) and a faster service and bigger offer than I’ve already ordered four books there and I’m very satisfied 🙂

    I’ve also bought some books at either and and many used books from but the delivery rates are high and I only use them as the last option.

  2. Often on Amazon UK it’s difficult to tell if it’s a US version, especially with new hardbacks which tend to cost the same whether they’re US or UK.

  3. I’m from Israel, and the selection for new SF&F books in English (or for all books in English for that matter) is rather limited on stores here.

    Some second-hand stores do carry impressive stocks, but if there’s anything specific I want, a new book I don’t want to wait a long time for, or a series I want to complete, I’ll often order from the US (Paperbacks from the UK cost more. Even for the same books, the US edition usually is noticeably cheaper, especially considering I usually wait and order a bunch of books at once to cut shipping costs).

    On the other hand, it’s not as if we have local editions of these books (except for translated versions, and I avoid those), so the new books in English on stores usually are the US/Canada editions anyway.

  4. i have a few Iain banks books in the orbit editions…they are the bigger paperbacks as opposed to the smaller american versions which I hate to read…anyway i don’t feel bad at all about buying them…if the american publisher wants my money then it should produce what I want and if they choose not to then tough.

  5. I’ve bought a few UK books which don’t seem likely to be coming out in the US anytime soon, or if at all. For instance, I grabbed hold of a couple of the Steven Erikson Malazan Empire novels before they showed up on this side of the pond, as well as a couple of Steven Baxter novels, and most recently, two books from the “Masterworks” series.

  6. I’ll wait a reasonable time–a year–for a UK book to make it over here. But some never do! For example, Stephen Baxter’s “Phase Space” collection was never published by Del Rey, despite the fact that they told me at one point they would publish it. So I had to buy the UK version.

    I wonder if this has less to do with wanting us to “buy US” than “don’t buy the overseas edition, scan it and share it with your friends”. Maybe these publishers should coordinate publication a little better so that we don’t feel compelled to order overseas?

    I know I’ll be counting the days between the publication of Reynolds UK-based short story collection and when it comes out in the US. Right now, according to an e-mail I got from Reynolds, Ace hasn’t even picked it up despite the fact that it is a collection set entirely in the series Ace has done well with (e.g., Chasm City, etc.). Ah well, at least we’ll see **one** US publication of a Reynolds collection this year (his other short stories).

  7. Fred, Whats up with the name dropping?? Come on man dish – you should come work for us dammit!!!

  8. “Come on man dish – you should come work for us dammit!!!”

    Hey, any time you guys want to work for me, feel free!


    No name dropping. I wrote to Del Rey because I knew that “Phase Space” had been out (this was a few years ago) and they wrote back. Reynolds has a link on his site where you can write him. He has always written me back–usually with a long delay, but he’s always been very nice and informative.

    I’ve found most authors more than willing to respond to a politely worded inquiry.

  9. Oh, the key being a “politely worded inquiry” – well I am out :-@

  10. I live in Canada, and I’ve been buying a lot of the awesome SF Masterworks series from They don’t charge for shipping, and with the exchange rate so good for the Canadian dollar vs the British pound, I’m getting them way cheaper or at worst at the same price I would pay for the regular North American versions… especially since I’m not charged for tax either!

    I’m just starting to build a nice collection for home… and if I can get great books with amazing art on the cover, it just makes my whole collection look nicer. Having the option to buy British editions with possibly better covers and at good prices makes me happy! 😀

  11. Must…resist…temptation…to…buy…Masterworks…books…with…free…shipping…

    The exchange rate between the UK and the US is currently around 2X, making the books about $10 a pop. Cheaper than through Amazon, which was the only place I knew of beforehand. Thanks, Richard! Now it’s even harder to resist. I could easily dump $200 on these things. Excuse me while I go bury my wallet in the back yard.

  12. I´m from Argentina and I´ve been ordering books from Barnes and Noble lately. The facts are simple. First, even paying a great deal for overseas shipping, and having to wait as much as 30 to 45 days to receive them, they are cheaper than buying them in Argentina. Second, it´s hard if not downright impossible to find some books in English here. Mostly, our bookstores carry only a handfull of popular best sellers like Tom Clancy, Stephen King or J. Rowling, and even then not all of their work, but rather, just those titles that have been exceptionally successful. So when you´re looking to complete say, Anne McCaffrey´s Dragons of Pern series, you simply have no choice.

    I´m not looking at a particular country´s profit or a publishers profit when I make such a choice. Instead i´m trying to cover my needs while looking after my own much limited resources. After all, salaries here are a third of those in the U.S., and with 1 Dollar equal to 3 Argentine Pesos, economics rule if you want to remain literate.

  13. :-S

    i am an ozzie currently living in Shanghai who struggles to get many fiction books in English. I have been ordering from Amazon-UK but the condition i have been receiving the books in lately is not great so will definitely try some of your suggestions… thanks

  14. I live in the US and I buy things from the UK all the time as they have great books that I don’t see on the normal US sites…when an edition ISNT coming or it’s going to take a YEAR longer…i’m going UK.

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