PubMatch, the book publishing portal and rights database jointly owned by Publishers Weekly and Combined Book Exhibit, has joined forces Lee’s Literary Agency in the first step to expand the service. The agreement position the site to dramatically increase its global membership and become the leading Web site for multilingual rights information around the world.

“For the first time, the global rights market will have a home where all comers can communicate, find out what rights are for sale and find out what rights are being offered via custom catalogues,” says PW president George Slowik, Jr. “PubMatch opens the territory to include foreign lettersets and possibilities for online rights communication that did not exist before. With PubMatch, there will be a place where a French agent can sell a French title to a Polish agent and have that transaction recorded and open to the PubMatch community.”

Jon Malinowski, president of the Combined Book Exhibit and who launched PubMatch in 2008, says the goal of PubMatch “is to be a global rights resource, and to that end we are reaching out to the worldwide book-publishing industry.” PubMatch, Malinowski notes, is aimed at publishers, authors, agents/agencies and others “who are looking to share their titles and available rights with potential business partners around the world.” Among the features in PubMatch are posting options, a rights catalogue creations tool, messaging systems and data entry tools. The site is currently up and running, with levels of beta testing in place and regular updating to accommodate new material and coding. It is planned to go live with the new functionality in April, 2011.

PubMatch’s first premiere Asian affiliate is Naoko Lee, head of the Taiwan-based Lee’s Literary Agency. In addition to English, PubMatch is to be offered initially in three other languages—Chinese (traditional and simplified), Japanese and Korean—and will provide a custom registration portal for Lee’s database of 25,000 Asian publishing insiders. More languages are to be added as new affiliates sign on. Lee will maintain a PubMatch office in Taiwan as well. “There are a lot of language boundaries between every country in Asia, with different written characters and symbols that cannot be represented in other alphabets. PubMatch is a great solution to build a gate for Easterners and Westerners to connect effectively,” says Lee.

Currently the membership of PubMatch is approximately 2,000, and Malinowski and Slowik expect that number to climb to at least 10,000 by the end of 2012. The portal site will be partially supported by advertising.

Malinowksi conceived of PubMatch at the Beijing Book Fair in 2008 when he met with a panel of U.S., U.K. and Chinese book publishing executives whose goal was to establish better communications. Publishers Weekly signed on as an equal partner in PubMatch after Malinowski invited Slowik to attend a meeting at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, 2010. Malinowski says, “Few players in the industry can boast the worldwide reach and respect that Publishers Weekly has, let alone the quality and breadth of reporting that they offer. Publishers Weekly was a natural fit as an equal PubMatch partner.”