I had breakfast this morning with Janetta Otter Barry and Sarah Butler of Frances Lincoln Ltd. in London. They were here both to talk about some books F.L. will be selling in the U.S. in the upcoming seasons and to find out about how the book reviewing system in these parts works: according to Janetta, reviews in the States have much more of an impact on sales here than reviews in the U.K. do there.
I was interested to find out more about how the "distributed in the United States by . . ." kind of publishing works. It's different from publishing companies such as Scholastic, say, which have editorial offices in multiple countries, and different again from selling the rights to a U.S. publisher (Frances Lincoln is the original publisher of Mary Hoffman's Amazing Grace, for example, but licensed the book to Dial for publication here.) Sarah explained that different books will take different paths to becoming available here, depending on what's projected to be the best way to achieve the most sales, and/or find inclusion on the various award and recommended reading lists. It's certainly a fuzzy distinction: I said at breakfast that I thought Frances Lincoln books would not be eligible for ALA's Notable Books list (because the rules state the book must be "published" in the U.S.), but now I see that Canada's Groundwood Books has received Notable citations, and they seem to be in the same situation as F.L., with both companies' books distributed here by Publishers Group West.
I know this all might sound like so much insider baseball, but as trade agreements, publishing, and consumer access to foreign books makes country-of-origin both less and more complicated, we all might need to be rethinking our rules about what we mean by "published here." Where?