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Disparate releases, why?


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I want to preface this by saying that I am not trying to be overly aggressive here or anything. I will try to keep the post completely founded in logic, though this practice really annoys me. Let me know if I unintentionally cross any lines. I just really want to know if there is any remotely good reason for this.



So it seems to be the standard these days for books/games/movies and tv shows (and likely other things too) to have 2 release dates (occasionally more). Most commonly this tends to be 1 in America/Canada and a second 2-5 days later that is more worldwide. I am wondering if there is any good reason for this anymore or if it is just a dated practice that started back when shipping took a far more extended period of time.


I'm trying to think of who this practice benefits:


American consumers?

Not really, they get the product on time but they don't get any real benefit out of it unless they like to have a feeling of superiority in that they aren't getting the product late the way other consumers are :/


Worldwide consumers?

Clearly not, there is no way we are getting a benefit from having to wait longer than others.



Here is where I figure the benefit theoretically must lie. But I honestly cannot see it. The only way I can see any benefit for them is through exclusivity deals, but that doesn't really relate to national/international at all, it is more about individual companies. On the flipside consumers who feel they are being forced to wait for no good reason are far more likely to pirate the product (especially with tv series and games) and so the company actually loses money from this practice. Consumers who feel they have been shafted are also less likely to buy again.


Once upon a time it did make sense. Shipping internationally could take quite some time and there was no point making the consumers in your own country wait weeks for the products to arrive in other countries, but nowadays this has absolutely no relevance for digital products, and to my knowledge very little for physical ones. As a case in point I would be willing to bet that there would be plenty of copies of words or radiance in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom on the 4th, but for seemingly arbitrary reasons they cannot release them till the 6th.


*sigh*. So as far as I can see there is no real benefit to anyone from this practice and 2 out of 3 of the involved parties lose out because of it. Is there something I am missing? Some good reason why this practice is still used almost all the time?


(On a slightly different but related note, why is Mitosis not available in UK/AUS/NZ/Ireland/South Africa/etc. Is there some good reason? Would extra work need to have been done to get it through to distributors in the other countries or something? At the moment by the time it is released here the vast majority of people who have any interest in reading it will already have done so.)


Again, sorry if this became too aggressive. I think I kept it logical rather than emotional but I could be biased.

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I do know it swings both ways. (Well, not so much if you live in AUS or NZ but anyway.) I can't see a good reason for it to be happening regardless of starting point. I only picked America as an example as it was the most immediately pertinent example with Words of Radiance and because America is perhaps the most common example due to their rather huge entertainment industry.

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I don't know but I can try some hypotesis:

- making different releases dates will give more time for the good to arrive. sure, brandon finished wor a good month before the deadline, but it's not always that way. having release out of usa delayed by two days means brandon had two more days to complete the book. And once he completed it in advance, the release date was already fixed and would have been too much of a hassle to change it. With digital goods, it still takes time for the cd to ship.


- another option is that there is some release party where the writer is invited, and by delaying the release abroad they can make more parties and still invite the author. So brandon that way can attend a release party in usa, one in canada, and one in europe.


- third option is that it is just a tradition from where commerce was slower.


No other ideas. None of the above seem goood enough to explain all, but they probably have some truth. Strange, I never tought about the issue, it always seemed logical, and now that I think about it I can't find a justification.

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I can't say for sure, but part of it may be translating time.  If it has to be translated into french, or even converted from american words and formats (ie "He said" instead of 'he said') it may take a little bit more time to get that change made, and then get the book printed.  If it's super easy, they make the date close.  If it's a little bit harder, the may take more time. 

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In the US, bookstores do their restocking on Tuesdays. In the UK, bookstores do their restocking on Thursdays. That is why the US release for Words of Radiance is March 4th and the UK release is March 6th. Why do they do it on those days? I have no idea.


The US and the UK are different markets with different tastes. It is in Brandon's best interest to use a UK publisher to market books in the UK and a US publisher to market books in the US. Each publisher knows their local market and how to best serve it. At least this is the theory, and it seems to bear out.


Commonwealth or former commonwealth countries get looped in with the UK publishing contracts because that is the way it has always been done. UK publishers will try to get Canada rights too, but American authors generally give their Canada rights to the US publisher.


Some authors sell World English rights to one company, and that may mean less money for the author. For example, Tor is the best SF/F publisher in the US, but Tor is a minor presence in the UK and I have no idea what their Australia/New Zealand presence is like. However, Orbit also has a rather good presence in the US now, and it has always had a great UK/Australia/New Zealand presence, so selling World English rights to Orbit may not be a bad deal at all. (Gollancz, which is Brandon's UK publisher, and Orbit are owned by the same company, but operate separately.)


Mitosis is a case of us and Brandon's agent dropping the ball. The US publisher commissioned it. The UK publisher didn't really know about it because everyone forgot to tell them. When it did come out, and we realized there wasn't a UK edition, we considered putting it out ourselves. But now it looks like Gollancz will most likely put it out. Negotiations are still underway.


By the way, Gollancz usually gets its book files straight from Tor. They don't even change the spellings or the quotation marks. Sometimes the UK mass market paperbacks are re-set with UK style—I think the split Way of Kings paperback was done this way. But the Gollancz hardcovers look just like the US ones on the inside.

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For example, Tor is the best SF/F publisher in the US, but Tor is a minor presence in the UK and I have no idea what their Australia/New Zealand presence is like.


Peter, this statement strikes me as the perfect opportunity for a junket (by junket I of course mean tax deductable research trip) for Sanderson, Ahlstrom et al. to come down south to investigate.  Just make sure you include Perth in you itinerary. :)

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