Territorial Rights in the Digital Age (2012)

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Acquisition and sale of territorial rights has a long history in traditional book publishing. Until digital books began to gain a foothold, publishers divided the world into territories characterized almost entirely by language. When digital books were introduced, publishers maintained the same approach to territoriality.

But are those practices still relevant as digital content becomes available worldwide?

This report builds on Exporting Digital Books: A Guide to Best Practices for Canadian Publishers. As Canadian publishers face the challenges of migrating from print-only to blended or even digital-only publishing models, this guide examines the extent to which traditional territories and boundaries remain relevant.

This guide answers key questions of interest to Canadian publishers looking to sell digital rights globally:

  • What are the downsides of territorial rights?
  • Do territorial rights as currently managed risk limiting sales?
  • Do territorial rights potentially alienate “early adopters” of digital content?

Filled with insightful and straightforward advice, this guide provides strategic recommendations for:

  • selling digital rights by territory (an extension of the existing model);
  • retaining digital rights and selling through an international or local aggregator (or both); and
  • retaining digital rights and selling directly.

This report also considers business models that could affect future export sales, new or emerging content delivery options, and steps to improve overall digital readiness.

Market profiles for the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and China are also included, along with a snapshot of current practices and expectations among Canadian publishers and the resources consulted to prepare the guide.

About the author

A publishing veteran with 25 years of consulting, management and operational experience, Brian O’Leary is founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting Partners, whose clients include major media firms as well as smaller and not-for-profit entities with significant publishing and media commitments.

40 pages

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