Industry Notes: International Rights at Diversion Books; Australian Teens Quizzed on Their Reading

In News by Porter Anderson

An agency in Spain picks up New York’s Diversion Books account for international rights. An Australian study of teen reading finds conflicting input on digital vs. print.

Image – iStockphoto: LZF

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

‘New Authors to Readers in the UK and Europe’
An agent formerly with Spain’s Pontas Agency, Jessica Craig—now principle of her own Barcelona-based Craig Literary–will be handling international representation for Scott Waxman’s independent press Diversion Books based in New York.

Jessica Craig

Craig’s background also includes work as the first foreign rights director for London’s United Agents. And in addition to translation rights, she’ll be representing Diversion titles in the UK under the new arrangement.

Diversion is one of the first presses launched (in 2010) by a literary agent in the United States. Its focus is on commercial and YA fiction and on general interest nonfiction.

In a prepared statement, Craig is quoted, saying, “I’m excited to champion Diversion Books’ titles with expert representation across the nascent landscape of countries and cultures. Bringing new authors to readers in the UK and Europe is a challenge I welcome.”

And for Diversion, publisher Jaime Levine is quoted, saying, “Jessica’s expertise is a perfect fit for Diversion Books’ range of fiction and nonfiction. We look forward to introducing readers around the world to narratives they will love.”

Craig tells Publishing Perspectives that she’ll be having meetings in New York during BEA, while Waxman and Jaime will be at the Javits. Craig will present Diversion titles at Frankfurt (October 11-15).

Australian University Study Fuel Print Popularity Assertions

A recent entry in the print-vs.-digital conversation, Deakin University’s “Teen Reading in the Digital Era” pilot study–a “scoping study” meant to define a project’s scope–seems to support commonly heard assertions that younger readers prefer print.

Key areas of interest in the work are characterized this way:

  • Platforms – Despite the fact that young people are often assumed to be digital natives, there is little recent research about Australian teenagers’ preferences for reading modalities.
  • Access – because we need to understand the barriers and enablers to participation in a reading culture.
  • Diversity – because ours is a heterogeneous culture, with young people of different ages from various language, geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In an interesting part of the research, however, it becomes clear from the “snapshot report” based on the work that the response might have less to do with paper vs. pixels than price and convenience.

From the study’s seventh page:

“Specifically considering reading ebooks, the primary reason our sampled teens say they do not read more on their digital device is a preference for print books. The second most popular reason is not liking reading that much. Other popular reasons reported include concentration issues, visual fatigue and the cost of eBooks.

“When given the opportunity to comment in their own words about how they felt about digital reading, some objected to the cost of ebooks when library borrowing was an option, while others felt that it was easier to source ebooks free-of charge.”

From ‘Teen Reading in the Digital Era,’ a look at gender elements of respondents’ input on recreational reading

This is followed by a quote from an Australian teen: “Apps like Wattpad are a great example, people (anyone really) can write about anything they desire and we can read anything we want … for free! Its a new, simple and great way of reading books.”

In short, a published book might be preferred in print. But Wattpad is a digital platform and 90 percent of its 45 million monthly world users are accessing it on their mobile devices. Offered its free content, some of these respondents appear to be happy to source their content there without objection to it being digital rather than print.

The project used 550 adolescent respondents from Victoria and Western Australia, and included “semi-structured” interviews with almost 40 respondents from Australian secondary or K-12 schools.

Another emphasis here of note has to do with questions to the teen respondents about who pays for their ebooks:

“Because the pilot study focused in some detail on reading using digital platforms, our questions about paying for or sharing books honed in much more closely on ebooks.

“Parents or other family members (38 percent) are the most usual resource for financing adolescents’ reading choices.

“While a substantial proportion reported buying ebooks for themselves (18 percent), the majority of sampled teens (56 percent) do not purchase ebooks at all.”

The questions raised here have to do with how much teens’ permission to make purchases online might affect their apparent preference for print over ebooks.

You can see the snapshot report, released in March, in a PDF here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.