By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘To Improve the Sector’s Trade Balance’As the effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic have worn on, new collective international rights outreach programs are proliferating—clearly a good way to pull together and promote translation rights sales in the world publishing industry.
Today, the international book business’ rights trading community welcomes Books From Spain, a herald of Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Guest of Honor Spain in 2022 and a new initiative through which the hard hit Spanish market can work to widen its international rights-trading footprint. This collection of titles from Spain is hosted on IPR License, the digital rights trading marketplace in which Frankfurt holds controlling interest, with additional investments from Copyright Clearance Center and China South Publishing & Media Group.
The Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain (FGEE) is once more in the lead here, and it has the support of the ministry of culture and sports, through the general directorate of books and promotion of reading as well as that of Acción Cultural Española.
And at the outset, media messaging says that the new portal has the initial participation of 97 publishers and literary agencies. In Spain—where publishers are waging an energetic battle both for government subsidy and for consumers’ favor–the announcement late this week that the new portal is in open for business has been timed to dovetail with a nationwide “Book Day” #TodoEmpiezaEnUnaLibrería campaign—#EverythingBeginsInABookstore.
‘The Strength of Our Literary Creation’
In announcing the new program, María José Gálvez, who heads up the reading and book-promotion efforts at Spain’s ministry of culture and sports, is clarifying in comments to the news media that the new portal “favors the internationalization of the publishing sector through digital media, allowing its virtual international presence and getting around the obstacles of physical commerce in pandemic conditions.
“The platform makes our authors visible and promotes them in the main trade fairs for the sale of rights,” she says, “highlighting the strength of our literary creation.
“The project has been very well received by the publishing sector and we want it to be an initiative that will continue and expand in coming years.”
Miguel Barrero, president of the federation, says, “Our publishing sector has been working for several decades on the internationalization of the Spanish book.
“The launch of ‘Books From Spain’ reinforces this international commitment through innovation and digital tools to continue increasing the presence of Spanish books and authors in other markets and thus continue to improve the sector’s trade balance. which, in the last decades, has been clearly positive.”
And Elvira Marco, who is the curator for Spain’s guest of honor program in Frankfurt, is quoted, saying, “Through ‘Books from Spain,’ the possibilities of establishing professional contacts and promoting our literature are greatly expanded.
This year, with Frankfurt holding its hybrid physical and virtual programming, a digital platform is important for a market to maximize the sale of rights.”
The way the publishers in Spain are using the portal is through allocations that allow each house to upload five titles. Each agency and house then can make its catalogue available along with descriptive material about what they do.
Books From Spain also arrives with incentives for translation. The ministry’s directorate has opened a call for translation aid, with a budget of €400,000 (US$465,216) and Acción Cultural Española in September is to match that amount with a grant of its own that will include a line for Spanish publishers and literary agents for translation either of promotional material or of complete works, as well as for support of illustration work in international publications.
To date, 65 grants have been awarded for translating complete titles, and 88 grants have been awarded for Spanish publishers and literary agencies to translate their promotional content.
And the arrival of Books From Spain is aligned with a growing trend that’s been accelerated by the pandemic. Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, for example, that the still new Brazilian Publishers offering quickly retooled as the virus made its move in the spring, the team adjusting from an original plan to support rights professionals at trade shows to one that can connect those buyers and sellers remotely around the world.
And in June, Italian publishers rolled out New Books From Italy, a reflection of the fact that Italy now is Frankfurt’s guest of honor in 2023.
It’s likely that more markets will be moving to pool their resources in terms of international rights trades, and the digital capabilities now becoming familiar to buyers and sellers will perpetuate the face-to-face rights-center meetings at trade shows that will be back in play once the virus’ effects are controlled by vaccines and therapeutics.
At this writing, the 5:34 a.m. ET update (0934 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites Spain as 12th in the world for caseload, just behind Iran, with 270,166 infections and 28,432 fatalities in a population of 47 million.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the Spanish market is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.