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PANZ International Summit 2015: a world wide perspective

By May 20, 2015No Comments

Sam at Conference_croppedJosé Borghino, Will Atkinson and Henry Rosenbloom brought their European, UK and Australian perspectives to the PANZ summit and left their audience, of more than 65 publish with a wider understanding of those markets and current trends in books and publishing. It was a cracker of a conference, challenging, thought provoking and a chance to see opportunities as well as pitfalls in the world marketplace

Sam Elworthy, PANZ President, welcomed publishers outlining milestones that have seen this country become more visible on the international stage – Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair in 2012, Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize winning The Luminaries and Guest of Honour at the Taipei International  Book Exhibition earlier this year. He also noted one area of vulnerability: our educational publishing is dependent on government policy decisions in both local and international markets.

IPA’s Borghino on the Freetard Jihad

Jose Borghino_croppedJosé Borghino, policy director for the International Publishers Association based in Geneva, did have a cautionary tale of government educational policy interference… Hungary nationalised the whole of their educational publishing and only one publisher in the field remains.

Calling his address From Simple Numbers to the Freetard Jihad, (the latter a term borrowed from commentator John Birmingham) José looked at the size of various creative endeavours today: Books and publishing are worth $250 billion, movies and entertainment $181b, magazines $185b, video games $84b and music $68b – all translated to $NZ. “We need to feel important – publishing is much larger than the other sectors. And none of them are giving up their copyright – why should we feel pressured to do so?”
He likens “creative commons” to fishing in Mauritius. “Fishermen found it easier to put gelignite in their reefs and blow the fish out of the water – but that destroyed their fishing industry.”

The good news: there are still growing print markets; the bad news: industrialised countries’ print sales by volume are stable or steadily declining. Causing concern: the EU is promoting Open Educational Resources, but without knowing whether this is sustainable.

“We need to tell our own story better,” José says. He believes the public and policy makers don‘t see publishing as a digital industry, but as a leftover 19th century business limping behind.One proactive move by the IPA is strengthening their Educational Publishers Forum and extending this in Asia-Pacific areas.

“The public don‘t see our passion and expertise. They don‘t see what they will be missing if their government policies don‘t contribute to a flourishing local publishing industry.

“Copyright is not outmoded in a digital world.”

Kiwi author Paul Cleave: One Writer, Many Markets

Mel and Paul Cleave_2 croppedCrime writer Paul Cleave () is not highly feted in his own country for his noir thrillers, but he is a huge hit on the German market. His editors in Germany loved his books and pushed for wide exposure – with the result that some titles have sold at one to two thousand copies a day in that country!

Crime writer Paul Cleave (The Cleaner) is not highly feted in his own country for his noir thrillers, but he is a huge hit on the German market. His editors in Germany loved his books and pushed for wide exposure – with the result that some titles have sold at one to two thousand copies a day in that country!

Since selling world rights to Random House (with one exception for a title his UK publishers would not release) Cleave’s books are now sold in 15-20 countries.
Nowadays, he told interviewer Melanie Laville-Moore “One of the books has always got something happening in different markets.” And much of his time is spent answering questions from translators about how to render Kiwi idioms for their country! There is also a different time frame. He was used to the fast pace of editors here – usually four weeks for each MS – but now waits six months for US editors to get back to him.

The author is the last to get paid, he said, and the last to get a print copy of the book! One regret is that he is ‘not well reviewed’ in New Zealand. “It is easy to write an amusing bad review.”

On another note: 90 percent of Cleave’s US sales are digital. In France, his sales are 90 percent print.

The state of Global Markets now… and 10 years from now

Trade Session

Global Markets panel_croppedjpgPeter Dowling chaired the trade publisher panel of Will Atkinson, Atlantic Books UK, Julia Marshall of Gecko Press, Kevin Chapman of Upstart Books and Dreamboat Books’ Mark Sommerset .

Peter Dowling chaired the trade publisher panel of Will Atkinson, Atlantic Books UK, Julia Marshall of Gecko Press, Kevin Chapman of Upstart Books and Dreamboat Books’ Mark Sommerset .

Will outlined the Atlantic Books operation – imprints are Atlantic, Corvus, and Allen & Unwin UK. Julia, Kevin and Mark in turn outlined their business and the international outreach of their rights and co-production deals.

Kevin noted that Upstart Press is selling rights three ways; 1) agent 2) rights 3) co-editions and that publishers are accessing China via Taipei which is seen as ‘entry level China’.  However, in UK and US our small market makes us ‘salmon going up the waterfalls’.

Dreamboat Books  has sold 22 co-editions. Mark quips “More publishers should write”.  He and his wife – illustrator Rowan Sommerset – write, design and create their own books.

Will told the audience that Germany is important – there is growth of reading in English, not only in Germany but also other areas of the continent including Scandinavia and Holland.  He said that rights are volatile; they are a lesser financial return than exporting.

He also noted that ebooks and digital are slower than expected in following the sales patterns of physical books. But now they are going straight to mobiles – “e” is a device driven market.

Julia Marshall commented that picture books are resistant to ebooks, and they are only two percent of sales for this market. But if in the years to come there was a new device created that captured picture books in the same way as the physical book….

The state of Global Markets now… and 10 years from now
Education Session

The Education panel session  featured Dame Wendy Pye (left), José Borghino, Richard Allan, Matt Comeskey and was chaired by David Glover.

The Education panel session Global markets now… and 10 years from now featured Dame Wendy Pye (left), José Borghino, Richard Allan, Matt Comeskey and was chaired by David Glover.

José said the big issue was Government involvement in education –  which was at times interference – and that educational publishers had to project the values and benefits of what their input brought to education.

Matt spoke of his experience of the US and UK markets where digital had meant territories were now communities of interest and that the shift was to preparing digital first rather than digitising print books.

Using numerous examples, Dame Wendy spoke about the importance she placed in teaching kids around the world to read, especially those in developing countries. She said she used gut feeling at times when making decisions and accepted that mistakes were sometimes made.

Richard outlined how Biozone had focused in Biology resources in the UK, Australia and for 10 years in the US. He described how curriculum changes were both threats and opportunities for publishers in those markets.

Breakfast with Networking for Educational Publishers

paula_browning_newCoping with Auckland traffic and the 8am start did not put 16 educational publishers and others – including José Borghino from the International Publishers Association – attending the networking breakfast chaired by PANZ Councillor Mark Sayes.

Copyright Licensing NZ’s Paula Browning (left) made two presentations. The first was a Horizon teacher survey which covered 500 teachers in both primary and secondary schools on their use and implementation of BYO Devices in schools (53% uptake by end 2015), plus the awareness and use of Pond – the Network for Learning Portal – (33% awareness of which 40% used Pond) and teacher material, content delivery and sources of teaching materials. The survey showed that paper hand-outs were the most preferred content delivery overall, followed by electronic downloads.

Paula also spoke about the CLNZ Educational Publishing Awards, the survey CLNZ had conducted with relevant groups, and the resulting changes to the awards which will be made before calls for entries in July.

Mark updated the meeting on the use of workbooks in schools following an opinion released by the Ombudsman in 2014 and the impact of BYOD in schools. There was discussion around recent Back to School workbook sales.

Up Close and Personal with the Digital World

Will AtkinsonWill Atkinson drew mostly on his experience as Sales and Marketing Director of Faber UK for this session on consumer engagement in the digital world.

“Publishers need to be on their game, and reaching out directly to readers,” he asserts.

“In the old and present world, the descending line is: author / publisher / retailer / consumer. In the new world, we have to link with consumers at each level via digital media and the internet. We are mixing and merging media opportunities.”

He noted that at Allen & Unwin Australia, there is an hour long meeting each morning to assess how their books are rating on BookScan – Will says there are ways to improve ratings, and publishers should be making use of these.

What works in the new world: “Getting the basics right: metadata, covers, author bios, descriptions, reviews. Ebooks go out naked to the world – give them some dressing.”

Search engine optimisation should be another goal, Will says. “Good SEO has relevance around the book or topic, and it has authority when linked to quality sites.

“Getting the basics right can cost time, but not money. Use structure – repeat key words or phrases, and repeat the communication on other relevant platforms.” Those platforms are many – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, the company website (archive everything you do is Will’s advice), YouTube and Good Reads. “You want email from customers,” he says. “Build relationships, tailor content, engage your consumers – don’t just broadcast to them – be transparent and honest. Listen to, survey and reward readers – and build your database.

“Good social media management needs to be planned and prioritised, author or publisher led, but with team structure and responsibilities. Use online management and MailChimp.”

Ishiguro’s latest novel, published 10 years after his previous book, showed both author and Will as publisher the stark difference in the ways communicating with the public had evolved. “A different world!” Ishiguro marvelled.


Nielsen Research on Consumer Behaviour

NevenaNielsen analysis of the markets is always interesting and insightful, even if it is not the good news we want to hear…

Reviewing key Nielsen research useful for publishers, Nevena Nikolic said “Becoming digital has given us more choice, we have more ways to connect and more to connect to, including digital versions and easily accessible international content,” she said. “We have never had so much information and entertainment at our fingertips.”

The ups and downs of global book sales year to date in the ten BookScan territories: NZ/AUS/US share same top title: American Sniper. Brazil/SA/NZ are all showing significant growth in volume, with the US and Spain also up. The UK/Ireland/Italy have just over 1% declines in volume on 2014.

“There is a lot of commonality across the four key BookScan markets, with the Top 10s predominantly fiction titles. American Sniper leads followed by The Girl on the Train No 2 or 3 in each market, and the latest Wimpy Kid: The Long Haulfeaturing across the four key markets.

“NZ continues our love affair with cookbooks as three titles make it into the Top 10. Volume and value are both up on 2014, though value not as much due to continuing downward pressure on Average Selling Price which is -6.8%.

“Breaking the total NZ market into three main categories: nonfiction and children’s sectors continue to drive the market growth, but fiction continuing its downward market share with volume and value both now at 23%.

“There is a downward drive on the ASP not just for the total market but across all three main categories with fiction, nonfiction and children’s titles all at six year lows.”

Digital Platforms and Updates

Wouldn’t you know it? Some of the speakers’ presentations were bedeviled by lack of synchronicity between their digital devices and the venue’s staging systems!
Pixelhouse presentation image_smallNoeline Anderson of Pixelhouse was the worst affected and we only got visual flashes of some of her presentation. Her concepts of effective visual strategy include art aesthetics, energy, and use of space. She noted the importance of the collaboration between teacher and the technical collaborator: one should not dominate the other, it should be an equal partnership to get the best results.

Pixelbooks’ Stephen Clarke talked about technology now shaping and changing industries – but always with the same message of excitement and innovation.

Kim Dovey of Book Design said that there are now solutions within InDesign that ‘future proof’ projects currently being worked on.

InfoGrid Pacific’s Andrew Crisp wryly noted that no two publishers have the same expectations. XHTML5 was their format of choice, which he said was ‘future proof in the foreseeable future’. InfoGrid now has a roadmap for titles enroute to digital, one which meets all the challenges of BYO Devices.

The irrepressible Henry Rosenbloom …

legendary Melbourne publisher tackles the international book trade from Australia 

Henry RosenbloomHenry Rosenbloom was once ‘a gentleman publisher in the country’ – his description – outside of Melbourne. That followed his involvement in the family printing firm which he steered in the direction of book production, but meant he only had time to publish one book a year. So it was back to Melbourne to set up Scribe Publications in 1996.

Scribe got underway slowly at first then rapidly as the list built. Today it is a highly successful publisher, with Henry a known character and vital part of Aussie publishing. Now he is taking Scribe to the international scene… but we will pick up on that later.

Scribe Publications became newsworthy when in 1999 he bought Shantaram, bank robber and heroin addict Gregory David Roberts’ tale of prison escape in Australia and subsequent life in the slums of Mumbai and took it to local and international best seller status.

Henry grew the company ‘3 – 6 – 12 – 20 titles a year’ from that point. Scribe now publishes around 60 titles each year, and is perhaps unusual that half the list features books added to the list from overseas publisher via rights deals.

But that wasn’t good enough for the feisty Henry. He has waged a decade long campaign to break the aggregation of UK and Commonwealth rights as one deal, going as far as to tell UK publishers they should not be entitled to Commonwealth rights and that they are “Starving the former Empire of resources so they can feed off it.”

“I’ve been fighting battles for five or so years; you can win the odd battle but never the war.” Anyone else may have been satisfied with the limited gains, but not Henry. Two years ago he opened a Scribe Publications office in London and employed former Granta editor Philip Gwyn Jones and two others to grow their international rights list.

Henry is still identifying international authors of newsmaking publications in health, popular science, neuroscience and parenting and buying world English speaking rights (if he can ‘pick up for almost nothing’.) One of the latest to catch his attention is a recent German title which translates as ‘Charming Gut.’ It is all about the digestive system and sold more than a million copies in Germany. (yes, gut= human digestive system.)

Henry sums up his strategy in approaching the London publishing scene as ‘defensive and offensive’. “But intellectually and experientially you have to go through London.” A war you feel that will be waged until Henry wins.

cnz-standard-logo-gold-200wPANZ would like to extend its thanks to Creative New Zealand for supporting Will Atkinson and Henry Rosenbloom to attend the PANZ International Summit through the Te Manu Ka Tau / Flying Friends international visitors programme.