Territorial rights for ebooks

 vendre-ebook

The book industry is fighting a battle that they are already loosing. While I agree that territorial rights are needed in the case of hard copies, I do not think that they should be used for digital content.

Something that never made sense to me – and I don’t think it made sense for a lot of angry readers – is why websites (Amazon.com for example) are allowed to sell hard copies and ship them to another territory but cannot sell soft copies (ebooks). Exporting books with limited territorial rights seems okay why not for ebooks? Anyway, that is not the point here because I think that territoriality should not even exist in the first place for ebooks.

Another thing that made me laugh more than once is that authors do not seem to comprehend that more and more fans do not want to read the translation (even if it is good, most of the time they are not) but the real thing. They do not want the ugly cover made just for their country, they want the original one. A very good example is Lothaire by Kresley Cole – it is a romance I am sorry – which was published in the US and the UK but with different covers. The UK cover was an absolute disaster, the hero on the cover was black-haired (the hero in the book had fair hair, come on people at least read the first pages of the bl**dy book for heaven’s sake!). Luckily, for UK residents, the UK version of the book was more expensive: I mean why would you pay less for more when you can pay more for less? That is the current idea. I am not british but I still think it was a slap on the face of the author’s fans.

US cover

Lothaire-copy

UK cover

kresley cole lothaire ugly


One of the main arguments for maintaining separate territorial rights is that authors can make more profit that way by selling their rights locally. This was true ten years ago when digital content was very limited, but not today. It is a given, the new generation likes ebooks. It saves time to have everything on your e-book reader, you can read what you like any time anywhere. The only problem is that it took a long time to have enough content in digital format. For this generation who has adopted ebooks because it is easier for them, to have more difficulties finding a title in e-book format than paper is not what they were expecting.

Ebook rights should be given according to the content and not the territory. For example, distribution rights for a French translation should be given to a publisher from a French-speaking country (preferably based in France) since they know the market better. However, rights to distribute the original content should not and here is why:

  1. It is a waste of money and time to try separating the markets for ebooks by territory. Seriously it is and when the book industry finally understands that, they will do so much better than now. It is business my friends, you either adapt or die. You can resist all you want but it is still going to happen. At least, publishers became finally aware of that – quite recently actually – and they are just trying to buy time. So they keep resisting instead of using their energy and resources to adapt to the new economy.
  2. Just because you forbid the reader to read the original book because you want him/her to read the translation that you specially made for him/her does not mean he/she is going to do it. A few might, but most people who read the original books do it because they want to. If they cannot get their hands on the original version online, they will just either give up or get it another way (legally and illegally). The targets are completely different – you do not need to have graduated from a marketing or business school to know that -.  Still, publishers want them to read the translation. How do you explain that? I can’t. If I was an author, I will be prouder to have readers buy my work rather than just a translation. Having people love my writing rather than the translator’s would make me happy. Instead, they force people to read those very bad translations they sell. Why? For money of course. At least they think so.
  3. The truth is that by restricting ebooks rights, most authors miss opportunities. Which means sales, which means money. Believe me when I say that over half people on the Net will abandon after the first try – they have other things to do, there are authors who do not restrict their rights by territory -. The other half will only try for an author they know well. There is always the usual small website that does not have any control on rights. You can always get lucky. Some will make mistakes for the first release. Otherwise, you have those websites that ask for an address. What to do?

    A/ Give a completely fake address

    B/if you travel a lot, you can always give the address of your hotel – never mind if you left the said hotel 1 month ago ^_^-.

    C/ You have family or friends there so you give their address, – may I give your address for an e-book you’re not going to receive? Sure.- Believe it or not, I have several addresses registered on Amazon and other websites that I use to ship to family and friends their gifts from their actual country of residence, it saves me money (free shipping costs). They do the same. I could use these to buy ebooks if I wanted to, or I could just visit them and give the address to buy ebooks while there which I did on more than an occasion.

    D/Some websites track your IP address. These are the nastiest. Do you know how many times I had to wait to go back home to buy a bloody book?!!! Forget buying them while on holiday, but when do you have time reading? Holiday…Forget it… Of course, the cunning readers could always find a way to change their IP Address, there are rooters, websites and other means for that. Some companies have global or regional IP addresses that can be used by their employees who work off-site. I know a few people who use them for work (that one is legal, many global companies do set a global connection to avoid having sensitive information leaked)

    E/ Other websites do not accept cards that have not been issued in the country of residence. These are even worse. I know two people who were residing in the country (moved there for work) but who could not buy them. They could buy about anything but digital content with their foreign card – it is a sad word-. Well for that one, you just need to open a bank account in that country or keep the one you had when you were residing there. Otherwise you can always try a prepaid card. I heard that a few people use them now to secure their travels. So that even if your wallet is stolen, you still have the card that you leave in the safe in your hotel room. You need only to add the daily funds to your card. Never used that, not sure that many do. Most of us, I believe keep some cash in the safe for emergencies like this one.

    F/ Order the pocket/paperback version and wait 2-4 weeks.

    G/ Download it for free online. You can find them everywhere on the Internet.      

  4. Having territorial rights for digital content only encourages piracy. Piracy, you see, thrives most of all when unfair restrictions – yes they are unfair to the readers – exist. I understand a little why some people would download these.

    A/ They feel cornered, forced. They want retribution. “Serves them right. They do not want my money. I did try.” the reader thinks.

    B/ They need something to read while the pocket-book is being shipped. “Come on. I bought the bl**dy book. What else do you want from me? You are already making me kill the few trees left on the planet.” the reader shouts.

    C/ They truly do not WANT to pay a book four times its worth just because it is imported by your “greedy” foreign bookshop owner. “Seriously man? Did you use gold dust for the cover or what? Not this time mate, I need to eat meat this week”

    D/ “Saves time. I promise to buy the ebook as soon as they get unrestricted rights” It is way too easy to download a book, believe me. It is small, could be converted to a doc file or pdf. It is much easier to download than music and movies.

So what do you think?

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The Book Deal: Territorial Rights

Ask the Agent

The Book Deal: Territorial Rights

Most people think of book deals as just that: a author gets paid by a publisher to publish his/her book. But it is a little more complicated than that. The book deal is a  negotiation that includes, not just how much the author will get paid, but  also what “subsidiary rights” will be granted to the publisher for exploitation. There are numerous revenue generating opportunities when you write a book. They include: right to license in the English Language in the UK and other English speaking countries, translation rights, audio rights, e-book rights, sale of abridgements, magazine excerpts,  movie/tv/performance rights, merchandise spin-off rights, and many more. All book deals include negotiations of  which of these sub-rights are being granted to the publisher and what will be the revenue split between publisher and author.

Today we will talk about territory rights. These are important deal points…

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Real vampires in South America

TwilightBeasts

Vampires have captivated our imagination for centuries. Despite limited (and fairly predictable) on-screen deaths by stake, sunlight, or a splash of holy water, the sci-fi/horror genre is still going strong (if you ignore the recent Twilight ‘saga’). Old school classics such as The Lost Boys and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are still as watchable today as they were 25 years ago. (Some may argue that perhaps the genre reached its heyday with the wonderfully witty and excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) There is something about these fictional beings that fascinate us. Like Sirens before them, vampires seem to lure us in and, for some unfathomable reason, many of us find them utterly compelling.

You won’t be surprised to discover that the mother of all vampires lived during the Pleistocene.

Belonging to the subfamily Desmodontinae, vampire bats can only be found in Central and South America. Contrary to old tales of blood…

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Fantasy books

at-graves-end-lg Lothaire-copy deathsmistressmed heart-of-obsidian-186x300

If you like fantasy books, you might try these authors:

Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling) *features shifters*

Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress series) *features vampires and shape-shifters*

Kresley Cole (IAD series) *features vampires, witches and demons*

Karen Chance  (Dorina Basarab) *features vampires*

Lydia Dare *features vampires, witches, and werewolves*

Alexandra Ivy (Guardians of Eternity) *features vampires, demons and werewolves*

Lynn Kurland (The Nine Kingdoms Series) *features mages and Elves*

Jennifer Ashley (Shifters Unbound series) *features Feys and shifters*

Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series) *features hybrids*

Kristen Painter (Heart of Fire) *features Elves*

Side story: the King of Faerie

According to my great-grandmother, Red Elves have their own queen and have never acknowledged the self-declared King of Faerie. Only the White Elves, which represented about 80% of the population, lived under the illusion that there is only one King of Faerie: their own king. Though there are three others:

  • The Red Elven Queen, who is by far the most powerful and oldest of the rulers (over three millennia old). Red Elves owe their name to their hair and eye color.
  • The Green Elven Queen, who had a very good relationship with the White Elven King. The latter had married one of her nieces (my grand-mother who was half White Elf half Green Elf). Green Elves are all fair-haired and are strict vegetarian. It is said that they can draw power from the nature. They live longer than the White Elves due to their healing powers.
  • The Black Elven King, who was never acknowledged by White Elves. Indeed, Black Elves did not possess any magic, they were nil (that is what someone who nullify magic is called) who had high physical abilities and great strength. They all had black hair and black eyes. White Elves often looked down on them because of their lack of magic and their appearance.

Contrary to Green and Red Elves who had clearly defined territories that they seldom left, many Black Elves lived among White Elves. Over the time, their homeland changed several times due to the interference and sometimes oppression of White Elves. Nowadays, the majority lived in the magic sink land of Faerie. According to the Elves, the magic sink mysteriously appeared one day in the land of magic Faerie. How did it come to be? Nobody seemed to know. Only a few do know the truth. I am among those who know the story and I will gladly share it with you: With her black hair and pointed ears, my adoptive mother was always thought to be a Black Elf. It suited her just fine since she was particularly fond of their wine and so she used to go quite often for a drink in the Black Elven territories. Apparently, some highborn White Elves who had taken residence there insulted her once too many. She decided to punish them by denying them access to any form of magic within those lands. Since it had become too bothersome over time to punish each of them, she simply denied the magic of all the Black Elf territories where she liked strolling. To make sure that they could not escape their punishment, she compelled them to stay within those territories until they died. That is how Black Elves came to have a stable territory that escaped the control of the White Elves. White Elves thought that they had a magic sink within Faerie, what they did not understand was that magic was not sank but solely denied. My mama’s denial skills worked with even the most powerful beings leaving them powerless and contrary to a magic sink, her little magic denial cannot be reversed. Trust me I tried. She was like: “tut tut Boy-a. You are grounded.” She was still a softhearted woman who often lifted my punishment early -after I begged, cried and charmed my way back into her good graces that is-. I guess those guys never apologized properly not that I think they could have, mama usually compelled them to forget her very existence.

The Original King of Faerie was one of the descendants of the Fey (a race far older and more powerful than the Elves) who created Faerie. It was agreed that only an Elf (with over 50% of Elven Blood) who had:

  • the strength of a Black Elf,
  • the speed and longevity of a Red Elf,
  • the protection skills of Green Elves
  • and who could master at least some of the magic spells of the Original King of Faerie,

could claim the title of King of Faerie. From what I understand, Elves never managed to find someone who fitted all criteria. Since Faerie had to be represented to the outside world as a united land, the White Elven King had taken that role. As a result, the outside world ignores the very existence of the other king and queens of Faerie, they even ignore the existence of Green and Red Elves.

That is said, I believe I could have fitted all criteria to be the King of Faerie. In fact, I did fit all criteria save an implicit one “little bloodsuckers need not apply”. Maybe, that is the reason my Elven grandfather condemned me to death and in doing so condemned his whole bloodline to extinction. That is another story to tell.

Chapter 6: Mama Jayr

Jayr: “What do we have here?”

Baby me: “Mama” I stretched my little arms for a hug. I was definitely in need of being comforted at the moment.

Jayr: “Do I look like a mama to you?”

Baby me: “Pretty mama” Flattery usually works. I stretched my little arms again.

Jayr: “Flattery ain’t get you anywhere. Stop shining. You’re hurting my eyes”

Baby me: *snif snif* “Death meanie, baby me dead” *snif snif*

Jayr: “Crying won’t get you anywhere either, you’re obviously not dead. You’re lost or something?”

Baby me: “Lost? Found pretty mama” I stretched my little arms yet again, hoping this time she will hug me.

Jayr: “You’re obviously not right in the head. Do you know who I am?”

Baby me: “Pretty mama. My mom killed baby me. Now she dead too. Baby me scared. Death meanie”

Jayr: “He can get on my bad side too sometimes.” A pause. “I will send you out now. Go find yourself a pretty mama”

Feeling rejected, I decided not to push. Jayr opened a passage and I soon found myself back to my world. I followed her advice and decided to look for an even better mama. Concentrating, I decided to search for her. Only, every time I saw the image of Jayr. I came to the conclusion very quickly that there wouldn’t be a better mama for me.

I started to ponder. “No wonder, she rejected me. Look at me. I am all dirty and disheveled. My clothes are torn and I smell of death. Had I been her I would have also rejected me. I must make myself presentable, I have some courting to do.”

Having come to this decision, I went back discretely to my former home, snatched some of the clothes my father had ordered made for me, a comb and some of my father’s body lotions. Then I bathed and managed to make myself presentable before going back to the passage opened by Jayr.

Jayr: “Oh, hell. You’re back. Did you get lost again?”

Baby me: “Looked for a better mama. Now back. Pretty mama best.” I said. I hope she noticed my efforts.

Jayr: “Look at you all pretty now. Found some clothes I see.” My hope went up. “I might just know the perfect babysitter for you. You’ll love him. He likes babysitting shiny things”

Baby me: “?”

Before I understood what was happening, Jayr grabbed me and here we were in front of a red haired person with Elven features.

Jayr: “Yo. Rayl. Long time no see. I got something for you” she said.

Rayl: “j—j—Jayr? Where have you been? You know it has been almost three millennia?”

“So her name is Jayr…” I thought.

Jayr: “Been in the Abymes. Must have lost track of time. This” –she pointed at me- “kind of dropped there. He is looking for a caretaker. Since I am no babysitter, I thought about you.”

Rayl:”I am no babysitter either.”

Jayr: “What? You love his kind. Look at his shiny hair.” Then, she turned to me and said: “Say something nice to my bro here.”

Baby me: “Fatty.” To Jayr “He is not going to eat me is he?” I saw smoke rising from Rayl’s head. Interesting, Fatty had a temper? Or, maybe it is the red hair.

Jayr: “F-Fatty?” She started laughing.

“I am making her laugh. That is a good start.” I thought.

Rayl: “Get me this thing out of here”

Jayr: “Come on Fatty…I mean Rayl… Where is your sense of humor? Try to get along. And Rayl? Don’t eat this one. Okay?” She said before flashing out.

“So I was right about the eating part.” I thought.

Rayl: “ Jayr. Wait. You just got here.”

Fatty and I were left on our own. We looked into each other’s eyes. I thought it was a pity I couldn’t read his mind, I could have learned things about mama (This one is like mama and Death, can’t read them at all).

His glare was meaningful, though. I did not need to be a mind reader to understand that he did not want me here. I also understood that my first instinct about him being dangerous was right.

Baby me: “Bye. Bye” I said before following mama.

I had to come up with another plan to make Jayr agree to be my mama, but I first have to catch up with her.