International Copyright laws/Harry Potter

I have been advised by Bloomsbury Publishing that I cannot order any Harry Potter books (or any books for that matter) that were published in the United Kingdom due to international copyright laws. (I am in the USA). I would like to have a set of Harry Potter (all five, once the newest one is out in June) that have been published in the UK. What means do I take to accomplish this task, find a friend in England? Or Canada? Thanks for your help.

Is Bloomsbury based in The United States or in the UK?

I’m asking because a friend who works at Chapters (a big-box bookstore chain in Canada, kind of like Borders for you 'Mericans), said that they are not allowed to sell any books that were not published by Canadian publishing houses. I imagine this is to protect our domestic publishing industry. Maybe the US has the same rules.
However, Canadians can buy things that are only available in the states through, getting around the rules by buying from a US-based seller, which is perfectly entitled to sell items that are only available in the US.

The moral is; try buying from a UK dealer. I don’t see why an independent retail business would be barred from selling to someone who happened to live across the pond.

If you’re trying to buy direct from the publisher, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m guessing that they are only allowed to sell to retail businesses, not private individuals. There are all sorts of rules about that kind of thing.

Try to order your books through or another UK-based bookstore that will take credit orders & ship it to you.

I’ve bought books published in the UK by buying directly from the UK via booksellers that advertise on the net, and books published in France the same way. I don’t know why the Harry Potter books would be different. I have done the same for CDs that are only available in Europe.

Since when? I have, at hand, books, bought at Chapters, published by Wizards of the Coast (Based in Renton, Washington), and Ace Publishing (Based in New York, New York).

Possibly, if something (like, say Harry Potter) is published by different publishers in different countries (Bloomsbury in the UK, Raincoast in Canada, Sholastic in the US), they’re obligated to use the Canadian edition, but they’d have a rather anemic (and over-literary) selection if they were restricted to Canadian published books.

I suspect this is more of a contractual issue than a copyrigt law issue as such. It would not shock me if Scholastic (IIRC, the U.S. publisher) has the exclusive right to publish and distribute Harry Potter in the U.S. pursuant to a license from JK Rowling. Bloomsbury has a similar agreement in the UK. If Bloomsbury steps outside the bounds of its license, it’s infringing the copyright.

The third party retailer idea makes sense although it again would not shock me if, as a condition of getting the books to sell, the larger retailers can’t transship them into another publisher’s territory. There’s a doctrine called first sale that says that once you buy a copy, you’re free to do with that copy what you want. It’s why I could go and buy a set of the books at Waterstone’s in London and carry them back with me to the US.

I’ve seen the UK sets of the first three books in the main store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, so I know that it is possible to get them. (Not sure about #4, though.)

You can’t buy it directly from Bloomsbury. Buying books from other publishing territories is a gray area. Technically Amazon UK should not ship a book which is published in the US to the US. Of course, it happens all the time.

In fact, it was the flood of orders got for one of the Harry Potter books that forced them to simultaneously publish them in the U.S. and the U.K. It’s usually the case (although I’m not sure why) that a British author’s book will appear in the U.K., followed many months (even a year) later by U.S. publication, and vice-versa. They had to change that for Harry Potter.