Best Practices in Global Book Sales
When the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” series decided to go global with its newest edition, “The Remarkable … Revealed,” the company took a chance by tweaking the typical foreign publishing model. Rather than licensing full publishing rights, as many publishers do, Ripley chose to handle printing and work directly with foreign distributors.
“We’re finding that, with licensing, [foreign publishers] don’t [always] have the commitment we do,” says Norm Deska, executive vice president of intellectual property, Ripley Entertainment. “We’re looking to better establish our brand with a high-quality annual book, and the only way to do that was to do it ourselves.”
Ripley, whose books––based on museum exhibits––feature flashy graphics and complex cover images, works with a single Chinese printer for nearly all worldwide editions, an arrangement worked out in partnership with Spokane, Wash.-based international sales and distribution firm Mint Publishers Group.
“We put through one print run, and we get the benefit of scale, and the publisher and distributor in other countries get the benefit of that scale in terms of the price we charge them,” explains Morty Mint, president and CEO, Mint Publishers Group.
At the same time, Mint adds, Ripley controls its content and brand, which is important to a company looking to establish and increase its profile beyond the United States.
Despite such advantages, this approach is not common in publishing, given the logistical hurdles of managing multiple language editions and complex distribution arrangements.
“[As a foreign publisher, you typically] receive the rights and [handle printing and distribution],” says Jorge Pinto, publisher of international publishing house Jorge Pinto Books Inc., of the most common types of foreign publishing deals. “Some have clauses where [the foreign publisher] sends the [translated] manuscript back to the [U.S] publisher, but usually [the foreign publisher] handles everything, and gives the [U.S.] publisher and writer a copyright fee. It’s a good source of income for [the U.S. publisher] and for the writer.”