Could the US Co-opt Global E-book Sales?

In Discussion by Emily Williams

By Emily Williams and Edward Nawotka

Todays’ lead story looks at the aggressive development of US retailer Barnes & Noble’s Spanish-language e-bookstore and it’s broad ranges of international partnerships.

The underlying assumption of a lot of conversations, whether people acknowledge it or not, is the question of whether or not, with the US’s eventually come to dominate the global e-book market.

Readers all over the world have questioned the viability of territorial rights — when they’re trying to buy from Amazon.com, for instance — and the erosion of such rights by digitization can only benefit a few parties, most of the based in the US.

Agents and publishers are especially concerned — at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October agent Andrew Nurnberg wondered aloud whether US publishers were using e-books to undermine territorial rights.

On the other hand, numerous digital distribution consortiums have sprung up in Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere to facilitate sales of books in their own local languages, which strengthen their presence. But, as we’ve seen with today’s story, those books also don’t remain in a silo and US retailers, with their aggressive acquisition, sales and marketing platforms, have the means to co-opt some of those sales.

So our question for today is: Do the US e-book retailers have such a big head start that they will eventually take over the market around the world, or are local retailers better positioned to convert their established customer base to digital and hold on to them at the same time?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Emily Williams

Emily Williams as Manager of International Digital Content at Barnes & Noble.com. Before that, she worked as digital content producer for Publishers Marketplace, contributor to Digital Book World and Publishing Perspectives, and also held a senior scout position with Maria B. Campbell & Associates.