This term refers to the adaptation of an existing product to fit the requirements of an international market or markets. In the consumer sphere it may mean a change in binding or format, and in the academic or educational the customising of content to fit local requirements. Notably for consumer books, the preferred first format especially for fiction in the English-language markets of the southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) is a C format (or ‘trade’) paperback, that is, a paperback edition in the same format as the publisher’s original hardback. For the non-English-speaking markets, second-format paperbacks of best-selling titles may be produced in ‘A’ or mass-market format as opposed to the ‘B’ format of the domestic edition, because booksellers’ shelves and spinners are constructed to fit the smaller size of indigenous paperbacks.

A case study from a UK children’s publisher highlights the potential benefits of such flexibility: the publisher’s Australian distributor responded to the offer of a hard-back fiction title by requesting that (a) the subtitle be made the title; (b) the author-illustrator create new artwork for a revised cover; (c) the binding be paperback, suitably priced, rather than hardcover. If these changes were made, said the distributor, the order would be for 20,000 copies instead of a few hundred of the hardcover. The publisher and author complied with this request, the books were locally manufactured in Australia saving time and freight cost, and the distributor purchased and successfully sold the 20,000 copies. One size does not fit all, and this example highlights the value of working closely with a distributor and benefiting from their market knowledge.

Academic publishers may produce a low-cost edition of a text-book for lower-resource markets in order to make it accessible to students and to avert book piracy; though certain recent developments regarding the legality of re-exporting such editions back into the publisher’s domestic market have put a brake on these initiatives. These editions can transform market penetration and sales performance, but research into and advice on the latest situation regarding this question, known as the exhaustion of rights, should be undertaken before such editions are produced.