Managing territorial sales restrictions is a complex, important business. Trade publishers in particular are very concerned that vendors like eBooks.com adhere strictly to the rules they set.
Matthew Dunlop, who is currently leading a complete re-build of the eBooks.com website, took time out to optimise some aspects of our file ingestion system and emerged with these gems:
Of the 1.4 million titles in our database, 54 per cent are allowed to be sold anywhere in the world.
Of the remaining 46 per cent, there are only 11,495 permutations of territorial sales rights.
This last item is interesting because, even though 11,495 seems like a big number, it’s tiny compared with the possible permutations. The possible permutations are a nine with about 20 digits after it. In their metadata for any given ebook, a publisher can specify all or some of the 252 countries the system recognises. The combinations and permutations turn out to be gigantic. But in fact our publishers thoughtfully limit themselves to this minuscule set of territorial rights permutations. For which moderation we are very grateful.