Publishers warn of Brexit threat to record exports


The UK announcing industry has warned that Brexit could damage its record-breaking export dealing.

The boss of the Publishers Association said any tariffs or other barriers to transact post-Brexit “could be a problem”.

His warning came as the industry body reported single sales of £5.7bn in 2017, up 5% on the previous year.

Exports take-off provoke by 8% to £3.4bn, to account for 60% of total income, consolidating the UK’s disposition as the biggest exporter of books in the world.

The Publishers Association represents order, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK, including everything from fiction and non-fiction to visionary and educational publishing.

Last year 36% of its exports were carried to the European Union, making it the largest market for UK books.

Publishers Union chief executive Stephen Lotinga, said: “It’s not just tariffs that could be a question [post-Brexit]. It’s the non-tariff barriers, customs checks and delays.”

“That poors having books sat in a customs warehouse in Calais rather than in a bookshop in Duesseldorf.”

Coercing force

The figures contained in the Publishers Association’s latest yearbook also swagger that sales of physical and digital books rose by 4% latest year to £3.7bn. Of that exports accounted for £1.6bn, a rise of 7% on the aforesaid year.

In some sectors exports are even more crucial. Compute income from academic journals totalled £1.6bn last year, with £1.4bn of that not fail from exports.

James Daunt, managing director of the book confine Waterstones, exports books to his stores in the Irish Republic, Amsterdam and Brussels.

He suggested: “With the pound down and the Irish market strong, we have been booming from strength to strength, but if the trucks all start to get backed up at the ports and can’t reach the booksellers it could bring into being real problems.”

He added there were other benefits that could be adrift after Brexit: “The EU has also been very supportive of us as booksellers. It’s been danged active in preventing anti-competitive behaviour, for instance by Amazon, and that big-hearted of protection may not be available after Brexit.”

Dominant position

Mr Daunt averred that over the past 30 years UK publishers have created a assertive position in securing English-language rights to books sold across Europe.

He continued: “You have to remember the UK publishing industry is deeply entwined with Europe.

“Macmillan may sound to be British, but it’s owned by a German conglomerate. Penguin is the same. It is part of the Bertelsmann assortment, also in Germany.

“The whole question of the management of rights after Brexit, depending on what compatibility we have, could become much more difficult.

“It may become easier for those rights to be funnelled not past London but say India or the US.”

The Publishers Association has issued a 10-point Brexit blueprint for proclaiming which includes a “gold standard” for intellectual property laws and copyright, “to storm the most of global free trade opportunities after Brexit”.

It rephrased it feared copyright might be viewed by trade negotiators as bargaining slivers in future trade discussions.

Huge success story

Trade supply Baroness Fairhead said earlier this year that the UK announcing industry was “one of our huge success stories”.

She pledged that the Department for Oecumenical Trade would continue to work with the industry to ensure publishers experience the support they need to export and grow.

But Mr Lotinga said that “whatever obliging of deal we end up having with the EU, it has to be balanced to allow us to continue to succeed”.

“The worst-case ground concerns copyright. At the moment we are part of a system that protects bring into play functions for 50, 60 or 70 years. The UK law is integrated with the EU and we have confidence in how we are attended.”

“If we leave that system and do a trade deal with other provinces, for instance the US, they have a completely different approach to copyright – one side will-power have to compromise on regulations.”

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