When it comes to fantasy, Aussie author Trudi Canavan is a familiar name. She’s a bestseller in Australia, UK, and elsewhere, and a couple of years ago, she made a big splash when Hachette headhunted her from HarperVoyager with a million dollar deal.
Trudi has a good backlist of fantasy trilogies, and today, she went on a hunt to find the ebook versions of those books. Like many authors at the top of the totem pole, she signed over her electronic rights to her publishers (because, really, a few years ago, they were far less important than they are today). Therefore, her publishers have full control over her ebooks, including pricing and availability.
Disturbingly for a bestseller, many of her books weren’t available as ebooks. Amazon (USA) had only two ebooks (both the second in their respective series!), as did Kobo and Apple’s iBookstore. Intriguingly, none of them had the same two ebooks. By my count, Canavan has at least ten books in print. Ten books! And the major e-tailers only had two titles each!
This further highlights the point that the big publishers are struggling to cope with the rapid shift towards ebooks. It’s a bloody shame, actually, and I’m loath to engage in publisher-bashing as they’ve done a fantastic job for decades, but if they have any hope of surviving beyond the 2010s, they need to lift their game.
Another issue that Canavan raised was that of territorial rights. Having participated in the Parallel Importation debacle in 2009, this is an issue near and dear to me, but with online purchasing dramatically increasing, the goal posts are constantly shifting on the issue.
Most frustrating of all to me, as a customer, is that none of these sites indicate if any of the books are available to Australian customers, and I don’t want to have to sign up to Amazon or Kobo and attempt to buy my own book to find out. Territorial rights issues are not going to go away, so retailers really ought to be giving customers this information so they aren’t completely put off by the eBook buying experience.
Right now, there are still some restrictions in place to prevent Aussies from buying certain ebooks. I noticed this when I uploaded my own Kindle ebooks last week. Amazon provided the option of restricting territorial rights. The concept of ebook territorial rights seems antiquated to me. Yes, it works for print books, but the internet is the great leveller, is it not?
I don’t have all the facts, nor am I in the right frame of mind to properly articulate a territorial rights discussion right now, but this post will serve as a placeholder until then. However, if you have a comment on ebook territorial rights, feel free to share!
Posted in: writing