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"......This book is sold subject to the conditions that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published."

I'm a Asian English student and It's too long for me to understand its meaning, please simplify it so that I can understand it, thanks!

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3 Answers 3

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It says that you can't remove or replace the cover of a book and then sell it.

This bit of "legalese" is explained by a feature of the publishing industry.

A book publisher needs to get his books into bookshops. To encourage bookshops to stock their books, the publisher sells them on a "sale or return" basis.

The publisher sends his books to the publisher. The bookshop pays for the books, but if any books remain unsold, the bookshop can return the books to the publisher for a refund.

Returned books will be destroyed. It is standard practice for the bookshop to save on postage by not returning the whole book, but only the cover. The bookshop will then destroy the remainder of the book.

The requirement not to sell under a different cover is to prevent a corrupt bookshop from removing the cover, returning the cover to the publisher for the refund, putting a new cover on the book and selling it.

This is directed at bookshops, not the final buyer of the book.

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Well first I would say that this is "lawyer speak". Some weirdly worded sentence changed over time and and meant to only be understood by lawyers. Second, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice

Let's break it down.

"This book is sold subject to the conditions that it shall not"

here are some rules about the book. You can't do this stuff.

"by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated"

You can't see this book or anything like that if...

"without the publisher's prior consent"

unless the people who made this book say otherwise

" any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published"

If you change what it looks like.

So to summarise...

Don't sell this book changing what it looks like unless we give you permission

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  • thanks for your answer! so you mean the statement says that as long as you don't change the original cover of the book, it's ok to do whatever you like; otherwise you need a permission from the author if you want to change the book.
    – user239460
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 15:35
  • @user239460 I am not a lawyer, and this is my simple translation, and not legal advice. This also states nothing positive. Just one specific thing you are not allowed to do
    – Andrey
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 15:39
  • @user239460, alternative practical solution: take the position that if the company wants you to do something or not do something, it's up to them to state it clearly and understandably. Nobody can be expected to hire a lawyer to buy a book. If they include something only a lawyer would understand, they can't expect non-lawyers to understand it. So either don't buy the book and let them lose sales over it, or buy the book and ignore that interesting but incomprehensible ink stain on that page. :-)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 1:43
  • you didn't read my comment, did you? i am only a Asian English student who is trying to learning English, i don't have the lawyer issue you assumed, in fact i am only trying to understand that statement of a English book , that's all. i really don't understand why you go that far on that. besides, lawyers are not popular in my country, we hardly deal with lawyer in all our life.
    – user239460
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 2:33
  • @user239460, that was humor. :-)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 2:56
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The main clause is a simple sentence plus an appositive clause, and the other components are all adverbial. Let us split this long sentence into several short sentences and explain their logical relationship.

This book can be sold only under these conditions ('that it shall not......' is the apposition of ‘conditions’). The conditions are: if you did not get the permission of the publisher you can not sell, lent, .. (all kinds of trade and circulation).

'In any form of binding or cover......' is the adverbial of 'trade and circulation' to point out that even in different forms the 'trade and circulation' are still forbidden.

'That in which it is published......' is a noun phrase after 'other than' which has an adverbial clause after 'that'. The meaning is: the book in the form of being published can be traded and circulated to others ('subsequent purchaser'), but meanwhile you should have the permission (without this condition).

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