The Grand Conversation on ebooks: Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson is author of 13 novels, six story collections, two screenplays, and a children’s book. His mystery and supernatural thrillers include Disintegration, The Red Church, Forever Never Ends, and Transparent Lovers. His new horror collection Gateway Drug includes contributions from Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Tim Lebbon. He’s also a freelance editor and lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

Scott is a bona fide ebook success story. He’s a bestselling author on Amazon (and by bestselling, I mean single digit rankings, not top 10,000!), and he’s selling thousands of ebooks every month (apparently, he’s outselling Snooki, who/whatever that is!). Before his transformation into a poster child for indie success, Scott was kickin’ arse as a traditionally published author (through Pinnacle Books). He’s a hard-working guy, an endless resource of information, and when it comes to ebooks, he’s seen it all and done it all. As such, Scott was an essential inclusion in the Grand Conversation. Here’s his perspective on territorial ebook rights:


“World Wide Web”

Yes, that means everywhere. And if you’re an author in the e-book age, that has huge implications: you are on sale 24 hours a day in any country at any time.

The only problem with that is if you had print publishers, in which case you may be bound by holdover rules that applied back in the days of trans-oceanic shipping, where the location of the printing press was the most important factor in determining territorial rights.

Even as the ebook age dawned, major publishers were still seeking silly things like — and I’m not making this up — “First United States Internet rights.” We were all a little sillier back then, but as the ebook market grew, territories became a strange turf war in which literary agents wanted to divvy the spoils many times over while publishers fought desperately for their home turf.

As a result, many authors are in my position, in that they have books not actively in print but for which they haven’t yet gotten their rights back. Ebook clauses make such deals even murkier because the publisher’s ebook rights are usually tied to the terminology of the paper books.

This probably doesn’t mean much to the average reader, yet it affects readers almost as much as writers. That may be why one of your favourite U.S. authors doesn’t have any books, e or print, available in your territory. And you might be forced to pay drastic prices, or worse, be tempted to grab a pirated file from one of the many torrent streams.

I’d ask you not to do that because stealing is stealing no matter your justification, but I can understand the frustrations with artificial barriers. One of those artificial barriers is unnaturally higher prices for e-books. Publishers totally disrespect their customers by insulting them with a $15 list price for an e-book, when everyone intuitively understands digital content is distributed at a much lower cost than paper books.

But where publishers fail their customers, independent authors know who their customers are, and they work to get them books at fair prices.

In my case, that meant taking my four U.S. books for which I don’t have rights, revising them and packaging them under my preferred titles, and publishing them in the United Kingdom. I am currently in the process of publishing them in Australia with AuthorDirect.net, a new enterprise launched by Jason Davis.

Publishers are still engaging in territorial battles over their books, and it’s one of the major factors slowing the spread of the Kindle and Nook across the globe. It’s the lucky author who has all rights and can plop books out there in a truly free and unlimited market, and in a few years, “publishing” will automatically mean a worldwide release.

Of course, I’m moving ahead of the curve by employing my own translators, but that’s another post for another day. Thanks for hosting, Shane.


Scott Nicholson’s latest ebook, Gateway Drug (which includes bonus stories from me and Tim Lebbon!) is available from Amazon and elsewhere. It’s the ideal sample of Scott’s work! If you enjoy Gateway Drug, Scott’s other bestselling ebooks can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Author Direct (in Australia), Scott’s website, and anywhere good ebooks are sold.


The Grand Conversation on ebooks will run here at www.jiraiya.com.au until February 28. If you’d like to contribute a guest blog post, email me at shane@jiraiya.com.au.

2 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by zoewinters and SeandBlogonaut, Scott Nicholson. Scott Nicholson said: Silly territorial wars in the ebook age (but not an excuse to pirate!) http://jiraiya.com.au/?p=1463 […]

  2. Vicki says:

    You’ve always been ahead of the curve.

    Good luck getting those last rights back, Scott.

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