The New York Times reports that some US booksellers have been importing the UK edition of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and selling them here, often at a high markup. (Apparently these readers haven’t discovered Book Depository.) Sarah Weinman comments, finding Knopf’s strategy to dole out the books with some time between them makes good business sense; the gap in publication between the US and UK editions is partly exacerbated by the UK publisher speeding up the release. (Why US publishers were so far behind the pack in picking these up … well, that’s another mystery.)
She also follows up on a story in Publisher’s Lunch (a subscription e-mail service for daily publishing news; you can subscribe to a light lunch for free) in which a Knopf spokesman points out that bulk imports are a violation of copyright law. While I know about territorial rights, this seems odd. Booksellers can’t import a book that isn’t available for sale in this country until the company that holds the rights gets around to publishing it? Readers who increasingly communicate across global boundaries are likely to find the publishing concept of territorial rights increasingly archaic and frustrating – not to mention that withholding books until a delayed paperback version can start selling in large numbers will seem impossibly reader-unfriendly in a world where we’re used to enjoying our entertainment when we like, not when a media corporation decides to offer it. But then, the customer isn’t always right, at least to go by publisher behavior which seems to have “but this is how we’ve always done it” as a motto.
I ordered the UK edition for our library and a faculty member promptly checked it out. I put a hold on it and learned, when it was returned, that we were getting multiple interlibrary loan requests daily for it. We’re seldom so popular. Rather than read it now (with five review books queued up for this month) I have released it into the wild and expect it will be taking lots of trips around Minnesota satisfying impatient readers. So there.
Meanwhile, Nordic Bookblog reviews What is Mine by Anne Holt and mentions something a bit frustrating: “I liked her previous series featuring Hanne Wilhelmsen even better. However, for some or other reason that series has not yet been translated into English.” Maybe because some American publishers think we’re only interested in books about FBI profilers? Haven’t we already read enough of those?? I admit, that’s why I haven’t read any of this series yet. It sounds a bit too … American. I wonder how many writers outside the US have FBI profilers as heroes? I can think of at least two.