At London Book Fair: Need for Revenue Gives New Traction to Rights Workshop

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

As more publishers look to rights and licensing for revenue, London Book Fair’s long-running Introduction to Rights program takes on new value.

The Introduction to Rights half-day event is in its 21st year this month. Image: London Book Fair/Midas PR

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Training Every Employee To Understand Rights’
A longtime feature of London Book Fair’s (LBF) conference program this year may have new visibility, as the industry looks anew at the potential for rights revenue.

In our recent Publishing Perspective Rights Edition, licensing and rights specialist Kris Kliemann said “Today, publishers cannot rely solely on retail and library sales as they have in the past.

“Maximizing opportunities offered through licensing rights has now become an even more essential revenue stream for every publisher’s and author’s profits. This needs to be a focus of not only the rights department, but also something publishers should invest in—training every employee to understand rights.”

And that’s a clue to why LBF’s Introduction to Rights half-day program on March 13 may be among the week’s hottest tickets.

Publishing isn’t alone, of course, in relying on outside events and programs for some of the training of a complex workforce, but it looks as if this particular teaching event may this year be especially timely. The event runs on the Monday before LBF’s official opening on Tuesday, from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at the Olympia Conference Centre (where the Quantum Conference will be ongoing, as well).

Publishing Perspectives asked LBF conference director Orna O’Brien to fill us in on the place and purpose of the Introduction to Rights program. She makes the point that while the event is organized under LBF’s conference offerings, its form and nature are closer to those of a workshop approach.

The heart of a publishing trade show: inside the International Rights Centre. Image: London Book Fair / Midas PR

‘Copyright Is the Cornerstone of the Industry’

Publishing Perspectives: How long has Introduction to Rights been part of LBF’s conference offerings?

Orna O’Brien

Orna O’Brien: This quiet jewel in the crown is celebrating its 21st birthday.  We began modestly in 1996 and the course has been consistently popular and successful ever since.

PP: And Copyright Clearance Center is again sponsoring the event, with Christopher Kenneally, host of CCC’s Beyond the Book podcasts, as the day’s lead presenter. Has CCC been the conference’s sponsor all along?

Christopher Kenneally

OO: CCC saw the value of it in and came onboard as a sponsor three years ago. It’s an exact fit for them, and Christopher Kenneally makes a really valuable contribution each year.

PP: With so much of our trade show action at LBF and other spots (Frankfurt Book Fair, etc.) built around rights transactions, is it at all surprising that a major show like LBF has this kind of “teaching” conference?

OO: There are in-house training courses, etc., but the fact that this workshop-style event continues to attract people is proof that intellectual property, copyright, contracts, and rights trading are not straightforward areas that can be picked up on the job.

Copyright is the cornerstone of the industry, and should be taught at the beginning of everyone’s career, not just those in rights.

In fact when this workshop began, rights income was a “subsidiary” income.  Now, licensing and rights sales are crucial and not just the realm of one department. Unlike conference-style events, delegates come away with a full set of handouts produced by the speakers that are invaluable back in the office.

PP: The kind of trading we’re talking about, of course, is exactly what LBF’s International Rights Centre (IRC) is there to facilitate. Our colleagues at Frankfurt had a remarkably early sellout last year of the Literary Agents and Scouts Centre there and added a pre-trade-show day of additonal trading, as a matter of fact. How have sales for the IRC gone this year for London?

OO: The IRC was 85-percent sold out in October and the Club at the Ivy, which is bigger this year, also sold out much earlier this year, in January.

PP: And from programming the Introduction to Rights, can you discern any especially pressing issues this year among rights specialists?

OO: This is an introduction to rights, delivering the crucial topics in our agenda:

  • “Why Do We Sell Rights?”;
  • “You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Own”;
  • “Selling Rights Essentials”;
  • A step-by-step guide to selling rights;
  • “Guidelines for a Rights Deal” and a contract checklist; and
  • An “Ask The Experts Surgery” at the end, in which delegates can get one-to-one guidance.

Licensing across media is hugely important these days, and this workshop is a great course for anyone needing a tried and tested definitive guide to rights and contracts.

In addition to the training program, the business of rights is discussed over the three days of the fair, with comprehensive offerings on rights trading across media.

The real highlight must be, of course, The Charles Clark Memorial Lecture, which this year takes place on March 15 at 5 p.m., with guest speakers Judge Pierre Leval and Jon Baumgarten debating Fair Use and its place in the copyright context today.

More on London Book Fair’s Introduction to Rights is here, with a PDF of the program here and tickets available here.

At the 2016 Introduction to Rights event. Image: London Book Fair / Midas PR

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.