Sunday 20 June 2021

Copyright Exhaustion - I'm tired already...

 My UK publisher sent me an info pack which starts with the page shown here:

I replied to say that I would do what I could - post on social media as they suggested, write to my MP etc but that it would be very hard to motivate the readership to act. 

The simple version: Proposed new law would allow UK retailers to import books from other countries to undercut prices here. So, for example, US editions of my work, or English language copies intended for sale in India could be shipped here.

What's the problem, you ask? Well, the minor issue is people complaining when the cover / size / punctuation doesn't match their UK copies. The major issue is that the publishers estimate a 30% loss of income to both them and to authors. 

The problem with the problem is that it can be summarised as "cheaper books". And whilst this characterisation misses the longer term impact on the UK publishing industry and choice and quality, it is simple to get hold of and appealing to readers. People in general won't go the extra mile to look into complicated issues, and I felt that this headline interpretation would sink any effort to fight the new law.

I posted the page above on a Facebook group for fantasy writers. Of the 83 writers to see the post only one bothered to comment... If it's that hard to interest writers in the matter, then what hope to motivate the public to push back against the imposition of the new law?

My personal view is that when someone is selling something they made they should be perfectly entitled to set the price for that thing in any given market. Taking away that right has significant consequences both for the income of creators and for the infrastructure that delivers the product to consumers. With books this could mean yet more globalisation and the resulting loss of diversity and choice, even as the initial stages look like more of both those things.

In any event - I have brought the matter to your attention. Google should allow you to pursue it further should you so wish.

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 



  1. It's tricky to motivate people to pay more ... a lot of people misread this as "UK distributors are taking the piss!" The reality is the labour laws in various countries have a large part to pay - what's the minimum wage for workers? Do they get healthcare, funded through taxation? And so on. By importing books out of zone, you damage the industry inside the zone - your friends and neighbours who are trying to get by, just like you, rather than some "fat cat taking the mickey."

    Getting people to engage on this is hard. I mean, HAAAAARD. They don't see you taking a 30% pay cut as impacting them at all - but eventually it will, through e.g. fewer authors, shittier books, etc.

  2. That is quite alarming! Coming from another country there is probably nothing to do about it for me, or is there?