I just want to direct everybody’s attention to Chris Meadows’ article here, which is brilliantly expressive of some of the problems I’ve been noticing a lot more acutely of late from early sorties into the production end of ebook management.
Some of you will have noticed that I’ve been overseeing a project whose time (I think) has come — international editions of the Young Wizards novels. The YW books’ North American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, only holds publishing rights for the US and its possessions, Canada and (for whatever reason) the Philippines. When UK YW fans (who had print editions in the early 90’s) complained to me that they couldn’t purchase the books from Amazon in their ebook editions, I checked with my agent’s contract lady to make sure that self-published ebooks would be kosher, and then started to see what I needed to do about it.
It’s been an interesting journey. My first stab at ebooking happened over at Smashwords (where the Door Into… / Middle Kingdoms books are available). They make the induction into the process as easy as it can be made, I think, explaining the basic issues of how and why a document file (or previously typeset document) must be stripped for ebook formats. And I have no complaints about their distribution of the Door books, particularly into Barnes & Noble: for the past few quarters they’ve been doing pretty nicely.
But with the YW books I was forced into a situation that Smashwords could not be used to solve, due to the territorial restrictions attached to the works. Smashwords has no mechanism to control what territories books are sold into, and to prevent them being sold where you don’t want them to be. Amazon and B&N, obviously, do. I investigated all kinds of other possibilities that would enable me to run around this particular problem… but even the best of them (the DianeDuane.com site’s present implementation of Zen Cart) was imperfect. Finally I realized that whether I liked it or not, if I was to reach an audience of any size (LIKE SOME OF THE REST OF THE PLANET, shrieks the Auctorial Subconscious in ill-concealed irony) with the YW novels without violating my contracts with HMH, I was going to have to take up the cudgels of bottom-to-top ebook production.