Print is not dead (yet)

In the literary industry, Brexit is a daunting prospect for both authors and publishers. 

Lara Bullens
Lara Bullens NewsMavens, Western Europe
Print is not dead (yet) - NewsMavens
Books. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

It’s the talk of the year, and the reality of what will happen with Brexit is still unclear. Media across the continent seldom cover the topic with real-life examples that allow readers to grasp a clear-cut idea of the negotiations. Will the UK stay in the single market and the customs union? Probably not. Will the UK stay in the single market but still be subject to EU regulations? We don’t know. The most overbearing questions are that of trade and citizenship, and they are blurred.

But beneath all of the political jargon that is spurted out by media outlets, there are some rare pearls of clarity that surface. And it is through these rare pearls that readers and everyday citizens can come to understand what’s at stake.

Bloomsbury, the publishing house that launched Harry Potter, has warned that Brexit could severely affect British authors. The UK is the largest exporter of books globally and has the highest concentration of published works in the world. So what happens when the UK is no longer a part of Europe?

In the literary industry, Brexit is a daunting prospect for both authors and publishers.

Authors risk losing their exclusive rights in Europe. Smaller publishing houses in the UK risk facing intense financial pressures, and will be less keen on representing fresh and aspiring authors. American and British publishers will have to battle for their place in the continent.

Even though well-known authors might benefit from the competition between the US and UK market, it is small publishing houses and up-and-coming authors that will suffer the most.

Nigel Newton, the chief executive of Bloomsbury, explains why:

“UK publishers are likely to take less risks on new incoming authors, including paying them less and forcing them to sign away global rights sooner than they would normally, to take a bigger share of earnings […]

As a new incoming author, it would be hard to resist those sorts of demands. For new and smaller authors, it is likely to be a lot tougher.” 

So in Britain’s booming success story of publishing, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel after Brexit. As European and British citizens, we need more of these stories to grasp the reality of the negotiations that will shake Great Britain.

Details from the story:

  • Europe accounts for more than one third of the almost 1.2 billion pound sales of UK-published books
  • 200,000 books are published in the UK alone each year, this is the highest number worldwide
  • The UK is the largest exporter of books in the world with a 17% share by value
  • Brexit will affect the next generation of authors (especially upcoming authors), and British publishers will be less likely to sign off news authors
  • Brexit will eventually put UK and US publishers in competition with one another
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