Are you preparing your business for an international market? You should be.
The book, movie, and music businesses are fully international, earning half or more of their revenues outside the United States. For example, two weeks after its release, the worldwide gross for The Dark Knight Rises was $537 million, to its North American gross of $289 million.
Realization of that revenue tends to be a complex business, usually dependent on local partners, language differences, currency issues, local regulatory matters and the like. An intriguing opportunity in a Web-driven world depends upon whether your product can be supported somehow by digital transactions.
So, for example, the leading book site Goodreads (whose monthly traffic recently exceeded 10,000,000 unique visitors) gets a significant percentage of its traffic from outside the United States, even though the site is presented only in English.
Web traffic, of course, can be monetized a range of ways. And international traffic means international branding.
With e-books, the international opportunity is very intriguing. Printed books are very difficult to place and very expensive to transport around the world. Also the print book business is built on a consignment model. No British or American publisher is planning to take returns from a foreign country, so pricing is very steeply discounted.
In your travels, where do you see English language books on sale? Basically in airports and a rare specialized bookstore if you happen to find one. Now think about how many well-educated people around the world are comfortable reading in English, particularly when translations often offer an unsuitable version of the original.
E-books can be sold in English anywhere that e-books are sold. Soon, due to the worldwide presence of Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon’s Kindle, and Kobo, readers comfortable reading in English will have a full range of title choices.
How difficult will this be for publishers? No more difficult that some computer settings when titles are “loaded” for electronic distribution. The international downloading of music, audio books and, soon, movies is much the same.
Are you thinking that you need to be in an entertainment-related business to take advantage of these developments? I think not. Every business should now be looking at the robust use of Web marketing. That Web marketing reach is fully international.
If the product delivered must be shipped from somewhere near the person who orders it, that still suggests that the strongest support for international marketing can come from the U.S., rather than be dependent on an international distributor.
Some of us dream (or have) our own presence in international markets. But for most of us who are distributing internationally by partnerships with third parties, the question we should be asking is what could electronic marketing be doing for me internationally that it is not doing now?
ARTHUR KLEBANOFF is founder and CEO of RosettaBooks, an e-book publisher and owner of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency which, since it was founded in 1946, has handled 25,000 book deals. Arthur is a member of the Inc. Business Owners Council.