Publishers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand voted unanimously to pursue closer cooperation among the three English-language markets at a special Summit held in Frankfurt on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Taking on Hachette New Zealand and BPANZ Past President Kevin Chapman’s exhortation that, “we have to start taking each seriously and stop ignoring each other”, a panel discussed areas where there could be greater cooperation between Canadian, Australia and New Zealand publishers.
Ideas included forming consortia to bid for North American or British and Commonwealth rights for books in order to compete with British and American publishers; and working together to address the challenges presented by the digital future.
The Summit received detailed briefings on the three book markets, and some analysis on recent trends. In Canada, for instance, the supply chain is increasingly being integrated into the US supply chain, while in Australia bookshop returns rates have dropped significantly over the past few years as a result of publishers moving to firm-sale on backlist titles.
In New Zealand, on the other hand, the country’s adoption of an open market was described by Kevin Chapman as ‘like a cancer, an insidious thing’ that had worked against protection of the country’s culture.
It is expected that a follow-up will be held at the London Book Fair to build on the momentum generated by today’s Summit.
It was standing-room only at the Summit, which was organised by the Association for the Export of Canadian Books (AECB), the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand (BPANZ), and was attended by about 120 publishers. Its purpose was to share information about the three markets, and to identify and discuss the challenges they have in common.
Chief among these challenges is the dominance of the two largest English-language markets, the United Kingdom and United States.
“We are all struggling to free ourselves from the proprietorial attitudes of the US and UK that continue to dominate the publishing world,” noted Juliet Rogers, Immediate Past President of the APA. “The US views Canadian rights as an automatic extension of their territory, even though they frequently have no intention of responsibly exercising those rights. The UK fails to grasp that the Empire is dead and that Commonwealth markets are no longer theirs by right.”
Digitisation provided further opportunities for cooperative action. “The digital future presents an opportunity for us to get together,” said AECB Chair Philip Cercone, looking forward to an era of greater collaboration between the three markets. “There are more opportunities than we can imagine.”