A topic that endlessly fascinates me is how UK and US publishers are fighting over who should have territorial rights in Europe. In a nutshell, the US advocates an open market while the UK is protective of their rights interests. But a new wrinkle has developed in the form of an irate memo sent by Karl Heinz Petzler, managing director of the Portuguese distributor Lisma Lda. In it, he accuses the Hachette Book Group of a “cold coup,” and “an unheard of act of self-castration” after a recent visit by an HBG representative who informed him that the company “had unilaterally decided that, whenever a book is published by both the US and the UK publishers belonging to that group, the respective UK publishers will have the exclusive distribution right in Europe.”
Petzler found it odd the decision was “made silently” without an official statement, declaring that “the people inside your group, who made this decision (who certainly do not have an American passport), do not really care about their customers, but also do not care about their authors, who will lose sales.” He names James Patterson, Nichols Sparks & Michael Connelly as authors who will “lose out” on sales by not having their American editions distributed in Continental Europe. “I wonder, if this decision was made silently in order not to upset the authors and their agents, who, I am sure, would not agree that a publisher does not want to sell their books in the open market.”
HBG’s response, if any, hasn’t hit our mailboxes, but this is a story that can only develop further….