How are international book markets being changed by the rapid pace of globalization? This was the central question linking presentations at last month’s The Markets conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Developed in partnership with Publishing Perspectives, and taking place on the eve of the publishing industry’s largest trade event, this year’s conference theme continued to focus on the globalized nature of 21st century publishing and highlighted the industry’s current accelerated rate of change. As the conference’s keynote speaker, Andrew Wiley, put it, we now live in an era when tomorrow’s readers can be found virtually everywhere around the globe and technology can be used for both speeding up or slowing down the pace of producing content for readers.
In keeping with the conference theme of “Change – A 360 Degree View,” many of the presentations dealt with questions such as language, multilingualism and the role of translation; the importance of slowing down in order to produce better content and improve relationships between authors and publishers; fostering stability and growth in uncertain political and economic times; the ever-important role of technology such as ebooks and audiobooks; and, increasingly, the importance of diversity in the publishing industry. The challenges and opportunities available to publishers in this climate were illustrated through the experiences and expertise of key players from the US, the UK, France, India, and South East Asia.
For readers who weren’t able to attend, we’ve recapped some of our favourite sessions from the day, which we will be sharing over the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy!
Challenges and Opportunities in Uncertain Times
One of the themes at the forefront of the presentations by market experts from the US and the UK was how the publishing industry is dealing with unprecedented political change. Katie Espiner, Managing Director of Orion Publishing Group in the UK, spoke about the importance of counterbalancing doomsday scenarios with a clear examination of the UK’s publishing market in light of the recent Brexit vote. Similarly, Andrew Wiley, a well-known literary agent and President of the Wylie Agency in the US, reminded attendees that, despite recent ideological developments in his country, readers are increasingly seeking a globalized view of the world.
Andrew Wiley inaugurated the day with a discussion of globalization and providing readers with different perspectives on the world. Speaking of the importance of “seeing things differently through seeing different things,” Wiley described the role that untapped markets such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East can play in creating a truly global readership and literary culture. However, in contrast to many narratives of globalization as a fast-paced and unfettered agent of change, he emphasized the importance of taking time to get to know foreign markets by learning about authors who are already successful locally and of building in time to find skilled translators to bring these works to English-language audiences. Despite the political changes currently taking place in the US, Wiley reminded attendees that diversity is in fact the human condition and it is necessary to bring more diverse stories to readers.
Later in the conference proceedings, Katie Espiner, who has worked with publishing companies such as HarperCollins and Penguin Random House, spoke about the challenges and opportunities in the British publishing industry. In her presentation, Espiner provided a balanced picture of the UK’s book market since the vote to leave the European Union. She noted that there is currently less stability in the market owing to the changing value of British currency, higher production costs and tariffs, diminished funding from the EU for publishing and translation projects, and the possibility of hardening territorial boundaries within the UK itself. Nevertheless, she also remarked that the region’s publishing and industry hubs largely voted to remain in the EU, and that they are still active globally and open in terms of both markets and diversity, noting the growth in opportunities in such markets as the Middle East and South America. Further, Espiner pointed out that the results of the Brexit vote revealed that there is still a high level of public trust in experts in the UK, and that the current climate offers publishers an opportunity to build on and create more trust.
To find out more about the US and UK markets, consult our industry-targeted market guides.