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Posts Tagged ‘Karl Heinz Petzler’

UK Reactions on Turf War Issues

The fallout from last week’s “Turf Wars II” panel has only begun on the other side of the Atlantic. The Bookseller’s Gayle Feldman first reports on comments made by various panelists, including Portuguese distributor Karl Heinz Petzler‘s assertion that UK publishers are guilty of “atavistic protectionism that breaches the free trade laws of the EU.” Also speaking on the panel, Lynn Kaplanian Buller, owner of the American Book Center in Amsterdam, described UK attempts “to close markets” as “a last-gasp tactic driven by fear”. Restricting Europe to the UK edition of English-language books “might cut sales in half,” she added.

But as previously reported, Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin walked out of the panel halfway through and vowed to stay away from BEA next year after such a “one-eyed, anecdotal and insulting” debate. Along with other UK publishers, he believes that without European exclusivity the UK market itself is under threat, as imported US editions can be distributed legally throughout Europe – including the UK. Agent Peter Cox of Redhammer added that US publishers have only recently taken an interest in foreign rights. “Their Damascene conversion – that there really is profitable business to be had in other parts of the world – is a nice acknowledgement on one level, but as an agent, I would frankly be more concerned about selling European rights to a US publisher than to a UK one.”

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“Cold Coup” by Hachette Book Group?

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….