There is no question that the Frankfurt Book Fair continues to be the biggest event in the publishing calendar when it comes to rights and licensing. But what’s going to be driving conversation (and business) at Frankfurt and beyond? Let’s take a look..
A quiet period for subscription models in the retail sector
Following the recent announcement that e-book subscription service Oyster is to close and speculation of other struggles within this arena, I imagine that many subscription-based businesses will be revisiting or fine-tuning their business models, partnerships and strategies.
That’s not to say the demise is indicative of the e-book subscription market as a whole, or to lump all subscription models into the same category, but there will certainly be some interesting conversation going on during FBF. And I imagine these might result in some more targeted growth plans over the coming 12 months. In contrast I expect collective licensing to grow but again this is also an area which needs to be carefully micro-managed.
Increased investment in information solutions
Many leading publishing houses are looking to better engage with their global offices, but internal systems are becoming increasingly outdated. You only have to see the growing number of tech-related service providers exhibiting at this year’s fair to realize how much opportunity and potential there is within this field. We’re entering into more and more conversations with global publishing brands about updating and building bespoke licensing solutions and these will be conversation replicated across other areas of the business. So not only do I expect demand for tech solutions to grow over the next 12 months but also for this area of the exhibition space to also evolve accordingly.
Growth of the micro book fair
Frankfurt remains the most important date in the publishing calendar, but even within these dates we are seeing an extension to the schedule with more focused and specialist events. These smaller events and conferences are gaining in prestige mainly because they are better tailoring their offerings to capture the attention of specific sectors of the market rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. In the next 12 months we could also see the emergence of more match-making events or virtual fairs, especially within the rights and licensing sector.
Closer working relationships with other creative sectors
We’re already seeing greater cross-sector representation at various book fairs and this continues to underline the need to cherry pick ideas and concepts from other creative sectors. This is even more apparent when it comes to rights and licensing. The key to this has been the impact of technology in enhancing the simplicity, speed and transparency throughout the licensing process for all creative sectors, both in terms of generating new business and combating digital piracy.
Breaking this down, gaming has gone online/mobile with more brands leveraging their IP through a string of licensing deals. The advertising world has seen the rights holder community work in unison to tackle licensing infringement and fight IP crime via a standardized code of practice. The tech element of this being the tracking of infringements via an easily accessible web-based resource. The field of patents and trademarks is in the midst of testing an online trading platform to expand and simplify the market for potential licensees. And the art world has developed an online image bank allowing clients to store artist approved high resolution images which fulfill the copyright licensing process.
So what next for the book world? Technology will obviously be at the heart of most publishing transactions as we move forward, and the opportunities from technology will increase as business models evolve and improve. And nothing emphasizes the changes in the industry than comparing Frankfurt Book Fairs from one year to the next.
Tom Chalmers is managing director of IPR License.