Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What's Going on in the Publishing Industry?

For those of you who think I spend my day in my slippers, sipping bourbon, lazing around reading query letters and manuscripts, I'm afraid you are sadly mistaken. I don't wear slippers!

But in seriousness, I actually do have a job where I have to keep up with industry news, and today I've decided to prove it to you by boring you to death with industry chatter.

Oh, and you can stop working on your Crazy Astronaut Lady Book Proposal, because a Crazy Astronaut Lady Book Proposal just sold.

There is a big drama going on in publishing: a battle over the future of Europe, pitting rival superpowers clashing over the future of European democracy! Does that sound like the next great WWII spy drama? It isn't! It's sort of like a book industry version of the cold war, i.e. very polite.

You see, American publishers have typically had exclusive rights to America and its territories and dependencies (basically United States, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, Guam... you get the picture). And UK publishers have had exclusive rights to UK territories and assorted former colonies (UK, India, Singapore, Burma, a bunch of islandes that no one has ever heard of. I mean, Ascension is totally made up, right??). So anyway, exclusivity means that only the US publisher can distribute in their exclusive territories and only the UK can distribute in their exclusive territories, and if you're not in your exclusive territory you need to step OFF.

Whither Europe? Oh, yes. Whither Europe indeed. Europe has traditionally been part of the "open market," that nebulous territory where BOTH the US and UK publishers can distribute. So European bookstores who stock books in English have their pick of the British and American versions, and sometimes they present them side by side.

WELL. The Brits are like, "Nu uh! We're in the EU and even though we haven't adopted the Euro we're going to claim Europe exclusively now, you bloody Yanks need to take your books somewhere else!" and the Americans are all, "No way man, we are the country of freedom and democracy and the Europeans should be able to CHOOSE what books they want," and the Brits are like, "You're a wanker," and the Americans are all, "I don't even know what a wanker is."

Enter Hachette, the French multinational who recently purchased the Time Warner Book Group, and who thus has both American and British divisions. A CIVIL WAR WTIHIN THE COMPANY BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND AMERICAN DIVISIONS was... uh.... recently decided very amicably. In cases where they control world rights, the Brits get to distribute exclusively in Europe, and the Americans get East Asia. So now European bookstores will be stocking only British versions of the few titles for which this compromise applies to.

So it's not over yet. This is but one compromise on a veritable powderkeg of emotion and pride and money over the exclusivity of Europe. Stay tuned. Only one country can win. (Unless they come to an agreeable solution)

And that is what is going on in the publishing industry. Aren't you glad you asked?






19 comments:

Julie K. Rose said...

This post? Wins. And good info too, thanks!

me said...

You crack me up.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Ahem, I may have been born on this side of the small pond, but I know a wanker when I see one. If you're confused, stand outside of parliment. You'll see a few.

As far as that goes, tour the capitol building in Washington, D. C. Many of them congregate there.

Somehow, I couldn't bring my self to say, "hang out there." It just didn't seem right.

A Paperback Writer said...

Ah, thanks for the explanation. I've been catching bits and pieces of this strewn about on the winds of gossip and it's good to have it written out in an understandable form.

Bryan D. Catherman said...

Thanks for stopping my Crazy Astronaut Lady proposal. (Just kidding.) I guess I should start trying harder to turn the news into a story. I hadn't even thought about how Law and Order will handle this news, let alone think about writing a story. Crap that was fast.

Alex Fayle said...

And where does Canada fit into this? I've seen both US and UK books in Canadian bookstores...

BuffySquirrel said...

Our book covers are weird? Okaaaay....

Ascension is totally real but Christmas Island only appears once a year. For six months.

brian_ohio said...

You shined some amusing light on something I knew nothing about. Nicely done.

But, am I to believe that when Europe argues with the U.S., they both sound like Spicoli from 'Fast Times'.

"Aloha, Mr. Hand."

SurfGrape said...

Okay, Nathan, it's official. I now read your blog before I read Miss Snark. You have now moved to the top of the must-read blog list.

Bernita said...

Yeah, what Alex said.

The Beautiful Schoolmarm said...

Oh, pick me! I know what a wanker is.

Sha'el, you should have gone for the pun, no matter how bad.

Nathan Bransford said...

Canada can go either way. Often when a book deal originates in the UK the British publisher will have Canada exclusively, and when it originates in the US the US publisher will have Canada exclusively. Basically Canada likes to play the field, but whoever snatches her up gets to keep her.

Alice said...

Small batch, I hope (the bourbon, I mean).

Nathan Bransford said...

^I'm usually a Makers man myself.

Dayna_Hart said...

Could you please, pretty please...devote one day a week to "the news according to Nathan"?

Brilliant.
Bloody Brilliant for the UK readers.
Effing Brilliant for the American.

And bloody effing brilliant for us Canucks :)

Anonymous said...

Of course, all this talk of "exclusivity" will end when the United States stops its independence nonsense and returns to the UK's happy colonial fold ...[/imperial delusion]

Alice said...

That works!

Raven said...

Hey Nathan, so if I'm a Singaporean, does that mean I can't query an American literary agent??

Dan H. said...

I think I understand the point about YA vs. Adult distinction in what is potentially a crossover novel based on pasing. Then I read Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games" and sequel. These are listed as YA but to me the read more like they should be distinguished as Adult.

Is that because her previous work is YA or have I completely missed the distinction?

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