On distribution

When my first novel (Library of the Soul) was originally published it came out in paperback in the UK and I licensed the first worldwide rights to my publisher (Alnpete Press) – which meant they could sell it in any country; but in practice, being in English, the bibliographic data services tend to result in exposure being limited to the Anglosphere. Although Alnpete Press were happy to dispatch copies anywhere, the additional cost of post and packing (and insurance) made it very expensive for customers beyond the EU. They therefore also supplied Amazon who, of course, have a network of retail sites in various countries and are geared up for international delivery. That seemed a good solution and I was happy to sit back and see copies of my lovingly crafted masterpiece winging their way around the world.

However, Amazon.com, like all the other significant US book retailers (online and bricks-and-mortar), won’t sell any book that doesn’t have a US-based distributor.  This is ostensibly to assure timely delivery to their customers, despite the fact that they are dispatching the books themselves from their own stock while replenishing their stock in the background. Alnpete Press, being a new small independent publisher (Library of the Soul was their first title), couldn’t find a willing distributor in the US (or anywhere else for that matter) as their catalogue was too small – it seems you’re not worth considering for distribution unless you have at least 25 titles in print.  At that time, Blackwell’s had an online US bookshop through which Alnpete Press titles were available to the American market; that seems to have gone, presumably when they sold their North American operations to Baker & Taylor.

Now Alnpete Press are making titles available in electronic form too (they refer to them generically as eTitles !).  They are available through Kobo in ePub format and through Amazon in Kindle format.  Soon, hopefully, they will be more widely available through other retailers as digital wholesalers seem to have a lower threshold for the size of catalogue required for electronic distribution. Whether this will make much of a difference to the geographic reach of my books remains to be seen (and begs the whole question of what difference eBooks will make to writing, publishing and reading – a suitable subject for a separate scribble, watch this space).

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About Simon Buck

Simon Buck is a consultant who has been widely published in the fields of internet security, electronic commerce and data communications. Frustrated with the lack of opportunity for whimsy and creativity in his technical writing, Simon has been producing fiction for some time. Read more...
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