STATUS: Oh, I’ve got a lot to accomplish today.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LIFE IN TECHNICOLOR by Coldplay
A couple of weeks ago we got an email from a rather upset reader in Denmark. He wanted to buy Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS as an eBook in English for his eReader. According to this fan, he is Danish but reads most of his novels in English. He could see that it was available in the US without a problem but why couldn’t he buy it?
I imagine this fan is not the only non-US resident with this question so I’m going to tell you why he can’t buy the US English eBook version in Denmark (or wherever outside of the US). And yes, we did send a letter to this person explaining why.
It’s a sticky situation folks. As eBooks have global capacity in the English language, the reason why it may or may not be available resides in the initial rights/territories granted to the publisher when the deal was made for the print edition.
I know, not exactly what you wanted to hear when you live in Timbuktu and you just want to buy the dang eBook. Doesn’t the author and the publisher get the money?
So let me see if I can explain more clearly because trust me, it’s causing headaches for agents, for authors, and for publishers, and there is no easy fix-it solution.
If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.
Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.
Now, if an agent and author has granted World English or World rights to the US publisher, then there is the possibility for the US publisher to sell its English version world-wide in print or eBook. I say “possibility” as the US publisher may still want to sublicense property to UK or do a deal internally with a sister-UK/ANZ company who will want its version exclusively in certain territories.
So, it’s not just a matter of the author or US publisher giving Amazon or Apple or BN or Whoever a thumbs-up to sell away the English language eBook from their distribution channels in other countries. It all depends on the contract.
And yes, we ALL understand that with the electronic book there is now a greater global market for the English language version that needs to be exploited but with all English-speaking territories wanting to protect their exclusive sales area for their version, it’s a bit of tangle with no easy solution.
And yes, I get that avid readers may simply pirate an eCopy when the legal/legitimate one is not readily available. We aren’t stupid but the industry is not shifting fast enough to implement a quick solution.