Best Practices in Global Book Sales
“The international [Ripley’s] books are the same book translated, so even though international publishers are involved [with book distribution and sales in their locales], the basis of control is all there,” Deska notes.
Even in cases where publishing rights for the most recent edition were sold outright, Ripley oversaw the production of a complex lenticular image gracing the front cover.
“We want the product and the brand to look a certain way, to be printed a certain way,” Mint stresses. “We don’t want [the lenticular image] printed by any old printer … so we look after the printing of that ourselves. We have our trademark colors.”
For publishers looking to maintain some control over the book production process, distribution in foreign countries becomes a separate challenge.
“There are practical, local realities that need to be considered,” says Seth Gershel, a book industry consultant and former executive at Simon & Schuster. “A local publisher knows the local culture and distribution landscape a whole lot better than does a publisher coming from outside of the country. Publishing is a whole lot more than simply printing and shipping. Sometimes regional control can be exerted, but even in the case of Canada, it is my opinion that a local Canadian publisher is much better equipped to … distribute and publicize than is even the largest publisher if based in the United States.
“Best case has the agent going directly to get publishing deals in each of the areas desired for publication,” he continues, “but this requires an agent with the worldwide experience and contacts that few, if any, of them possess.”
In Great Britain, Ripley sold the distribution rights to Random House UK, which handled sales and marketing efforts and, according to Mint, did well on the profits, made possible by Ripley’s maintenance of low printing costs.