Frankfurt Rights Meeting - A deeper look into our business

Opinion - International Tuesday, 3rd October 2017

Lance Fitzgerald, long-standing Frankfurt Rights Meeting advisor and vp director of subsidiary rights at Crown Publishing Group, introduces the meeting in a piece first published on the Frankfurt Book Fair website. The meeting - for which BookBrunch is media partner - has the theme, 'Change is the new constant: A close-up on East Asia, audio, and creating a buzz'

How would you describe the global significance of the Frankfurt Rights Meeting conference? What can you get here that you can't get anywhere else?
Lance Fitzgerald: Much of our time at Frankfurt Book Fair is spent in one-on-one meetings, selling rights to potential publishers, without a chance to think about larger topics and global overviews. The Frankfurt Rights Meeting offers a unique opportunity to take a deeper look into the topics that affect how each of us sell rights.

This year, we're focusing on three very interesting and diverse topics - Japan, audio rights, and social media. Japan is a very strong rights market, but not many of us get to learn the specifics of Japanese publishing. Audio rights has become more important in the last few years and is a growth opportunity for publishers and rights sellers. Social media is so prevalent in our personal lives, but how can we apply it in our professional lives? By hearing from experts on all three topics, attendees of the Frankfurt Rights Meeting will get a chance to step away from their Rights Guides and create new strategies for expanding their rights Business.

One key topic and your own panel will be about the Japanese market. What is so fascinating about Japan? Why did you decide to feature it?
Lance Fitzgerald: Japan has a vibrant and historic publishing community, one of the oldest in the world. Yet, for many rights sellers, it remains a mysterious market to understand. Their bestseller list is often filled with Japanese authors, yet there are also successful translation titles published every year, particularly in the business category. Japanese publishers mix traditionally printed books with newspaper, magazines and manga. Additionally, while many rights sellers are familiar with European and US bookstores, not many get a chance to see a Japanese bookstore in person. We are hoping that the panel will provide attendees with some ideas on how to break into this very important market.

You have been in the publishing business since 1995. How has the rights market changed over the last decades? Would you say that it has changed for the better?
Lance Fitzgerald: The most significant change is that the rights world moves much faster. Much of this can be attributed to email and the internet. Information is exchanged at a faster pace, and reactions are quick, nearly instantaneous. There are definite advantages to this speed, but occasionally the deep thought that may have gone into the consideration of a title in the past no longer happens. Generally, I think the changes have been for the better - the influence of the internet has meant that in addition to speed, there are more publishers, and a greater opportunity to license books in new markets. The rights world has gotten larger.

Social media is omnipresent. How has this influenced the rights market business? And how will you address the topic at this year's conference?
Lance Fitzgerald: It is an ongoing question: is social media a helpful sales tool? Publishers have figured out how to market to readers. So can we, as rights sellers, figure out ways to market to our customers? Are our customers looking at social media for the latest book or trend? We are hoping that, through the panel discussions, we can provide strategies for attendees that will help them learn what works for selling of rights, and how to break through the social media chatter to make an impact.

They say, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." So why did you decide to change the format of the conference?
Lance Fitzgerald: The format hasn't truly been changed, it's been expanded - we've shortened the presentation time for each topic and added round table discussion time for attendees. Feedback from previous sessions was that attendees wished they had had more time to ask the presenters questions and to also discuss certain topics further. By devoting specific time to smaller group discussions, we hope that attendees will feel they are getting a better opportunity to get answers to the specific questions they may have.

The Frankfurt Rights Meeting takes place on 10 October, from 2-5pm in Hall 4.0, room Europa. The Copyright Clearance Center is the official Premium Partner of the Frankfurt Rights Meetings, IPR License is an official partner of the conference, and BookBrunch is the media partner for the event. More details on the programme and speakers, as well as the ticket shop, can be accessed via: