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Why don't some online stores ship abroad :/? Mail forwarding service?

  1. May 19, 2010 #1
    I recently came across Flipkart books, an Indian bookseller that has, fantastically, some very expensive and difficult to locate physics books for almost suspiciously cheap. I checked around online and it seems that most people that had ordered said they haven't had any problems. So I gleefully place an order and get to the shipping screen to realize that they only ship to Indian addresses.

    I live in the US, but I now know how frustrated people must get when stores in the US don't ship abroad. Is there any work around for this sort of thing? I've looked for mail forwarding services but so far, all I've found is services that forward mail from the US to abroad. And I don't know anyone in India either :/ How irritating!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2010 #2


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    In this case the publisher licenses someone in India to sell very cheap editions because Indians cannot afford $300 textbooks and getting a smaller return is better than having people simply pirate them.
    But they wouldn't do this if the Indian printer was allowed to sell the $20 indian editions in the US.

    It used to be said that if you were doing law/medicine in the US then a quick flight to Mumbai would pay for itself in textbooks.

    Funny how things change, Charles Dickens complained about piracy of his books in the US
  4. May 19, 2010 #3
    While I understand the economics of the situation and their motivation for this sort of stuff, it's hard to feel bad for publishers when they price gouge on things like college textbooks (which is enormously lucrative, if I remember correctly).
  5. May 19, 2010 #4


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    Different issues of the books are sold to India compared with the US. They are cheaper because the book itself is cheaper, as in almost tissue-paper thin pages, etc. They can't sell to the US because in the US you need to buy a US version and the publisher probably won't let them sell outside the country.

    But, there are other factors that limit international shipping. The cost of shipping itself is usually prohibitively expensive, then there is all the extra paperwork for getting items through customs, and the fees for that (and that it may get held up or delayed, or not allowed through).
  6. May 19, 2010 #5


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    There are reputable reasons; higher chance of theft/credit card fraud, high number of returns when the customer gets a demand for import duty and refuses the package and simply the cost of shipping.

    But mostly it's just price gouging, it's illegal to charge more to residents of Manhattan or Beverley Hills so you charge more in Canada. Fortunately most stores just over the border do ship-to-store and don't care where your credit is from.
  7. May 19, 2010 #6
    Its a niche market. If you have ever looked for rare books they get rather expensive. One of my favourite authors is little known but has a cult following. He has produced work that would be of little interest to anyone but a loyal fan and I know of at least one 50 page trade paper back that sells for about $70-80. Limited edition hardbacks of some of his other works start at about $100 I think. These are produced by a small publisher because there would be no reason for a large publisher to waste its time on such a small market.

    I regularly purchase items from Indonesia (I know that isn't India) and it does not cost that much. I've never had any issues with customs either.
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