By Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License
This month we’re reporting on a session from our recent Global Rights Licensing: The Bigger Picture conference. This saw leading figures from a range of creative sectors highlight how they maximize licensing revenue and, the topic which will be the focal point of this article, a look at emerging markets for licensing, especially in regards to translation rights and piracy within these territories.
The panel at this particular session comprised of Emma House, Director of Publisher Relations at the Publishers Association; Lorella Belli of the Lorella Belli Literary Agency; Silvia Serra, Director of Rights, Licensing & Permissions at Wolters Kluwer and James Bennett, Head of Development at Copyright Licensing Agency.
When looking at the performance of translation rights, Emma House pointed out that Western Europe remains a key market for the majority of UK publishers. She also cited Latin America as an area which has experienced the largest increase in translation rights in recent times, highlighting Brazil as the major player. Key points being that it had a young population with growing levels of disposable income and its high profile due to the past and future major events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. She said: “These factors have helped create a big appetite for English language publishing and the presence of Amazon and Kobo are providing stronger routes to market. Whilst there are some amazing book shops, it’s a huge country which, in parts, has been poorly served but online retailers are making big strides to provide more content to a population with a real thirst for knowledge.”
Brazil Still Booming
Lorella Belli agreed that Brazil seems to be the most vibrant market for translation rights outside of Europe with advances going into six figures for the right books. And, staying within Latin America, she suggested that Mexico has possibly taken over from Argentina as the largest Spanish language market within this region.
She went on to say that; “Generally speaking, after several years of doom and gloom when talking to European publishers, we have now seen revenue from translation rights sharply increase over the last couple of years, in terms of both advances people are paying and the number of deals. The strongest market for translation rights continues to be Germany. This is in no small part due to long-term high readership levels, good infrastructure and that it remained a buying market even throughout the economic crisis of recent years, which was in stark contrast to other European countries, in particular Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece. We have been selling a lot in Italy this year, but Holland is still difficult, and Poland probably not as strong as it used to be.”
She did indicate that activity levels for rights in translation had increased in the past year across much of Europe and emphasized the impact of current activity levels in Turkey which she described as “phenomenal” thanks to a young population that reads in vast quantities and is a “buzzing” market in which some 90% of her list was selling in this year.
Africa and Asian Markets to Watch
Further afield she highlighted Nigeria as a market to watch, even though the level of advances paid continued to be relatively modest, and the Arab world where so many new initiatives and trade events are facilitating selling rights there. Indonesia and above all China was another territory which she said was of growing interest and, although there were obvious restrictions and censorship to take into account, that business, history and self-help books as well as some romance continued to sell well.
Picking up on the Asian market, Silvia Serra suggested that: “Whilst journals remain very different to the book trade, China remains one of the most important countries when it comes to potential revenues for journals in translation. And this is thanks to a flourishing pharmaceutical industry.”
After China she said that the next biggest country for Wolters Klower in terms of revenue was Korea, again because of a healthy pharmaceutical industry. This was said to be closely followed by India.
However, she did stress the need to work in partnership with someone familiar with their individual market and the fact that the Chinese and Korean markets in particular were very bureaucratic and slow moving, requiring the aid of government collaboration. When turning her attention to Brazil she stated: “The journal translation market has been slow on the uptake in recent times, mainly due to the pharmaceutical companies ploughing their budgets into advertising for the aforementioned major events. As such Argentina continues to be the most profitable country for us within the South American market.”
In conclusion Lorella Belli summed it up by saying: “The important thing to remember when licensing overseas is to make sure that the people you are selling your rights to are bona fide, that they have a good track record and there are measures in place so if something does go wrong then they can take action. Piracy does still happen in China but ironically no democracy also means that they have one of the most robust systems.”