Every year, a day before the official opening, the Frankfurt Book Fair hosts an International Rights Directors’ Meeting. It a big important deal where industry experts present and discuss topics of timely importance. This year, the theme was digital licensing and contracts. Having attending this event (standing for about five hours in the back of the room and my feet are still killing me), here is the official Literary Rapture report.
Diane Spivey, who moderated the discussion after the speakers’ presentations, touched on a theme that seems most important in discussing the digital possibilities and the future of book publishing. She said that digital publishing means working in a world where it is difficult to decide how much something is worth. Fear of the unknown has kept publishers from embracing digital the way other industries have. Spivey was the only speaker to explicity mention fear, but the tentative approach that many publishers take to digital endeavors bears this out.
Maja Thomas, VP of Hachette Audio, pointed out that we all saw the music industry’s problems with piracy, but books target a different audience. She also said that once a customer buys a book or audio book, that customer is able to make copies and distribute them as they like. Digital formats inspire images of students maliciously sharing pirated digital versions of copyrighted material in their dormrooms at 2 in the morning.
What stood out to me, something I am sure all of you already thought about, is considering what kind of information a publisher is trying to sell digitally and what format to sell it in. Reference material can be formatted and sold differently than a cookbook or guide to bird species.
Exiting guests gave compliments to the book fair on the quality of this year’s meeting. Way to go, Frankfurt Book Fair! For more complete and thoughtful coverage, visit the Frankfurt Book Fair blog, new this year.
Check back for continuing Frankfurt coverage.