Not too long ago, Diana Gabaldon posted on her blog about geographical rights specifically in relation to the fact that her graphic novel, The Exile, was not being published anywhere other than the US, Canada and Netherlands. I think though, that the extension to ebooks is quite logical
Well, see, the way that publishing works is that a publishing company buys certain specific _rights_ to a book. If you have a decent agent, you _don’t_ sell “worldwide rights” to your manuscript; the agent makes separate deals with individual publishers in different countries. Each publishing contract defines exactly which rights you’re selling—and the “exclusive territory” in which the book can be sold.When I first got my ereader, I wanted to be sure that I didn't go nuts buying books in the same ways that I don't go nuts in buying paper books, so I gave careful thought to decision of what book I was going to buy as my first ever ebook purchase. Once that decision was made, I set off to the internet places that I had heard would like my money. After trying a couple of different places, it began to look to me as though it wasn't yet available in ebook. I happened to mention that I couldn't find it, and was prepared to leave it at that, when Tanabata said, oh but it is available and sent me the link. I was aware that there were some geographical restrictions around, but given that Tanabata lives in Japan, it was a little surprising that she could buy the book, but I couldn't! As per the above, the book wasn't available in my region due to geographical restrictions.
Which means that not all publishers buy all books at the same time—and not all publishers choose to promote the books they have in the same way, either.
Whilst I understand that there are different arms of the same publisher, it seems a little strange that I can buy a copy of a paper book from overseas with no difficulty whatsoever, but can't do the same for an ebook. There are authors who I want to support but I can't in my preferred format.
I am certainly not the first to be frustrated by this issue. Over the last few weeks, there have been posts from Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, Sarah from Monkey Bear Reviews, and this week at Dear Author where the post gained 213 comments (so far), many of which were very interesting in themselves, including some discussion regarding piracy, something that rightly pushes the hot buttons for many authors.
One of the things to come out of the Dear Author discussion was a suggestion that there be somewhere people who want to buy a book, but can't or won't for whatever reason, can let publisher's know that they are losing sales from readers who want to be able to support the authors they love. Thus Lostbooksales.com was born.
From the About page:
Every day an author and a publisher lose out on a sale of book. This is a site for readers to tell the world about the lost sale whether it is because of price, territorial restrictions or general availability. There are a whole host of reasons a particular book is not distributed all over the world. Sometimes agents advise their authors to sell only domestic rights which usually means US or UK get the goods. Sometimes publishers aren’t exploiting those rights.So if you are missing out on being able to buy the books you want to buy, whether it be a paper book, or ebook format, then add your links and hopefully let publishers know that they really are losing sales every day.
I was just about to post this, when I noticed that at Dear Author they have just posted a follow up post about Geographical Restrictions, and once again it is very informative, particularly for those of us who have bought an ereader and happen to live outside the US in particular.