The recent announcement that Amazon has opened new Kindle stores in Italy and Spain has been met with lots of excitement in the Kindle community, but it begs the question of just how good Kindle’s expansion in foreign markets is for the independent authors who publish with them.
According to PC magazine :
“The new stores have a total of more than 900,000 titles in various languages, including many international best sellers, the company noted. Amazon also announced that independent authors are free to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to make their works available in the Italian and Spanish Kindle Stores.”
A further breakdown of the numbers indicates only 22,000 titles are available in Spanish in the Spanish store, while only 16,000 titles are available in Italian in that country’s Kindle store. So if, as an independent, your book isn’t available in either of those languages, your chance of significant sales in those or any other country where Amazon has a Kindle store are pretty slim.
Further, you’re competing with international bestsellers; that means titles whose translation rights have already been sold throughout the world, usually through an agent or larger publishing enterprise.
It’s no secret that foreign rights sales can make significant money for an author, often much more than the original version. And the global nature of today’s economy means that rights sales are booming. The problem is that within the area of foreign rights, there’s a significant scramble going on for territory. In exchange for translating your work, publishers want exclusive rights to publish in their territory. And if an English language version of your book is readily available in their local Kindle store, chances are they’ll not only pass on ebook translation rights, but on print rights as well. That spells a potentially significant loss of revenues for authors, especially independents.
Too many aspiring authors, anxious to get their work “out there” have only a dim understanding of just what rights they’re giving up in signing Kindle’s direct publishing contract, and unfortunately, many independent houses now insist on “worldwide” rights as a means of skirting the whole issue.
It’s an area of the industry that raises a lot of questions, and most of those questions don’t have any easy answers. But make no mistake, Amazon’s wholesale distribution practices and new Kindle stores are for the good of Amazon, not individual authors. Most important is for authors to be aware of their rights, and to find publishers and representatives willing to protect them in the global marketplace. Negotiate in your own best interests. Ask if your agent or publisher has contacts or partners in the foreign rights community. We certainly have those contacts at Village Green, but many don’t.
NEVER sign away world rights unless you have to. Some agents cave on it just to make the deal and some publishers will try and convince you that translation and subrights are just not an issue unless you have a track record. But that’s just not true. If you’re in it for the long term, the potential for foreign rights sales is just as important for your first book as your last one.
For more good reasons to keep your eye on amazon, read the following: