Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Sarah Harvey is Senior Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan* where she sells translation rights around the world. She has previously worked in Rights at Hachette, Quercus, and HarperCollins. She is a big fan of Europe and will be accepting marriage proposals from anybody with an EU passport.

As the dust begins to settle in our brave new Brexity world, Sarah Harvey tells us that cultural exchange is more important than ever.

Ah, Brexit. Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. We have so many questions. Will Brexit mean Brexit? When do we get those blue passports? Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry? How long before we’re all stockpiling bottles of leftover Prosecco, mini burgers, The Complete Works of Lee Child, and heading to the emergency bunker?

These are the burning issues, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I think the one thing we can be confident about is that we won’t be getting answers any time soon. In the meantime, it is business as usual. And as somebody who corresponds with our European friends every day, I can report that we haven’t seen any marked difference yet (unless you count the endless amounts of Brexit commiseration emails that I keep receiving). Rights deals are being agreed, Frankfurt Book Fair appointments continue to be made, the world keeps on turning.

So Britain embarks upon its messy divorce from the EU, our economy continues to feel the destabilising effects, and it seems that some parts of our country desire to retreat inwards, away from Europe, and pull the metaphorical drawbridge up. But this means that selling translation rights, maintaining relationships with our European customers, and building cultural connections has never been so important – and not just because it will keep me in a job.

Ever since the first Frankfurt Book Fair over 500 years ago, publishers have been sharing books, forging networks and building alliances. They continued to do so in the face of world wars and economic crashes (I’m looking at you, 2008). We are a resilient lot, and I remain hopeful that European and global publishers will continue to want to hear our stories, whether our passports are red or blue. The publishing landscape may change, some parameters of how we do business may well be altered, but I am confident that good books remain good books and we will continue to want to engage with each other, and exchange stories and ideas for many years to come.

I’m not booking my place in the bunker just yet.

*All views are the author’s own and not those of her employer

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