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US vs. UK turf wars continue; bloodshed imminent

All right, I kid a bit on the last point, but one of the hottest topics at BEA has now hit the New York Times as Motoko Rich reports on British publishers’ attempts at renewing an old campaign to secure exclusive rights to sell English-language books in Europe. The problem? They say that because of open borders between countries in the European Union, American editions of books sold in Europe are starting to appear either in British bookstores or on Web sites, in direct competition with British editions.

Not surprisingly, Rich continues, “US publishers disagree vehemently with the idea, crafting an open letter to publishers in Britain and the United States opposing the latest British push, imploring all publishers involved to strongly reject any effort to restrict competition in the market.”

Basically, it’s all a big mess as Commonwealth, European and North American rights duel for supremacy. And let’s not even talk about Canada, which has perhaps the most confusing book market ever with three, sometimes four potential editions of a book sold in the same store alone. Will this get cleaned up to anyone’s satisfaction? Something tells me that’s kind of a pipe dream…

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