Not confusing at all! Interesting to think through this post and follow the competing agendas, reader’s, author’s, agent’s and publisher’s:
If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.
Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.
In many ways this is a fairly sensible move from Amazon:
Similar to AmazonEncore, Amazon’s first publishing imprint, AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving of a wider, global audience. AmazonCrossing will acquire the rights and translate the books and then introduce them to the English-speaking market through multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent booksellers via third-party wholesalers.
It does go to show though how much power Amazon has gained for itself through hard work and enterprise. Owning the relationship with readers is enabling them to leverage their other capabilities and to relatively rapidly create imprints. Right now they seem small enterprises and mant dismiss them, but as I have pointed out before (and been shown to be correct) small things can grow!
Some questions arise here:
1) Will agents see the value of this outfit?
2) Will authors prefer more established houses?
3) Will their sales data and reader feedback advantage give Amazon a clear advantage over traditional houses in the rights acquisition field?
4) How will publishers react?
That last question is by far the biggest and strategically important. 2010 has really seen a ramping up of Amazon’s publishing enterprises. Beside this new imprint and a fairly large increase in the numbers of titles published under the Encore brand, they also announced this week that they had acquired a pretty mainstream writer. Publishers surely must see the danger that Amazon presents when it pursues actions like these!