Best Practices in Global Book Sales
“There’s no overhead. They [the foreign publisher] don’t have to do any editorial work,” he says. “The sales reps are already hired and working full-time selling existing books, so there’s no additional work for them. They’re just pulling another book out of their bag.”
By lowering costs for distributors in smaller countries like Croatia and Israel, keeping some control can actually open up new markets, Mint says. More book-buying per capita and different retail practices make these markets more attractive than many publishers realize.
“Discounting is a bigger part of publishing life in the English-speaking world than elsewhere,” he says. “Nobody monkeys around with discounting [in non-English speaking countries], and people are still buying large numbers of books.”
Some companies practice what might be called a hybrid process—retaining rights for a certain period of time before licensing out reprint rights. This method is especially common in the scientific, technical and medical (STM) segment, where translation can be a time- and labor-consuming task, and most readers expect to encounter books and journals in English.
“We try our best to disseminate our content in the original version, in books and journals, but also [through] the licensing business,” says Rainer Justke, director of relationship management and head of rights and licensing at Springer Science+Business Media.
A two-year waiting period for reprint rights ensures the company can sell the original edition internationally, a practice followed by many STM publishers, Justke says. Springer disseminates its original editions with the support of local sales forces in Hong Kong, Tokyo, New Delhi and Seoul.
The sales and distribution process is simpler than for a mass-appeal book like Ripley’s “The Remarkable … Revealed” because there are a fixed number of countries in which Springer can expect strong STM demand. Still, Justke says there are no plans for the company to abandon its licensing model.