As those who don’t live in the US undoubtedly know, many books that are not available in e-book form thanks to the mess that is geographical restrictions. That is, if you live in Australia or the UK or many other countries, you cannot freely download an e-book that might be available in the US simply because the e-rights to that book may not have been sold to that particular region. Readers hate it, authors hate it, everyone wants it fixed and no one seems to know just how to go about it.
But the one comment I kept seeing over and over was that we authors should be doing something about it—like keeping our e-book rights and selling them separately. Which, I have to say, made me laugh, simply because the publishing world does not work that way when it comes to 98% of us authors.
Sure, if you’re Stephen King or J K Rowling you probably have the clout to withhold e-rights or even ensure they’re sold worldwide, but the rests of us don’t.
Generally, we have two basic options. Sell the publisher the print & e-book rights (sometimes world wide, sometimes just English speaking, depending on just how savvy your agent is, and just how much the publisher actually wants the book) or don’t take the contract. There is no ifs or buts—publishers want print rights, they want e-book rights, they want audio rights, and if you’re not careful enough to read the fine print, they’ll even take rights to media that hasn’t been invented yet.
And of course, just because your publisher takes said rights doesn’t mean they’re actually going to use them. That depends on print sales, overseas interest, etc etc. Publishers are a business and they’re in it to make money. If they don’t see the money trail happening, then they’re not going to change anything any time soon. And there’s nothing we authors can do about it, as much as we might like to.
But e-books are booming, rights? Sales are increasing 100—200%, aren’t they?
That may be true, but the fact of the matter is, e-books sales are currently sitting around 7.5% of all sales. Which means 92.5% of sales are still printed books. Guess which figure the publishers are going to take more notice of?
So, what can be done?
As I said before, publishers are a business. They want—need–to make money. If they don’t know just how big the demand is for e-books, then they’re not going to motivate themselves to fix things with any great speed. Which means readers are going to have to let the publishers know if the books they want aren’t available in their region, and we authors will need to pass each and everyone of on those complaining emails we all get to our editors. The more we do this, the more someone in the publishing world might get a clue.
The one thing that won’t help is downloading illegal copies–but that’s a whole different rant