London Book Fair

Copyright and Clark

Clark's Publishing Agreements

I’ve just written a review of Clark’s Publishing Agreements: A Book of Precedents (Ninth Edition).   It’s been published by Bloomsbury and costs £130 (you get a CD for this as well).  I’m not expecting many of my readers to be interested in buying it, but, in case you are, you can obtain a 35% discount off the cover price if you’re attending the London Book Fair.  The ISBN is 978 1 78043 220 5.

The General Editor is Lynette Owen, a colleague and acquaintance whom I admire greatly.  She picked up the baton when Charles Clark, the doyen of copyright law in publishing, died in 2006.  I never met him, but I’ve met people who did and I’ve also seen photos of him.  I picture him as a sort of Rumpole character, a larger-than-life man of what used to be called ‘breeding’ and great intellect, who was both as sharp as a tack and tenacious as a street Arab when it came to defending authors’ and publishers’ right to get paid for their labours.

In fact, although copyright has always needed to be defended, Charles Clark died before the real squeeze began.  Beginning with the Digital Economy Act (2010), which was closely followed by the Hargreaves Report (2011), Richard Hooper’s work on the Copyright Hub (2012) and the Finch Report on Open Access (also 2012), UK copyright law has come under strenuous attack from a government that seems neither to appreciate that the intellectual property of writers and their publishers needs to be protected as much by law as, say, design patents protect pioneering engineers, nor fully to realise just how much of the national income is generated by a flourishing publishing industry.  That industry has, of course, responded with vigour, but in clear-headed fashion.  It is to the credit of both publishers and authors that, on the whole, they have not lost their cool over this.  Instead, they have worked hard together – along with various trade organisations and lawyers – to modify copyright law so that it is accepted as fit for purpose in a digital age without allowing it to be dismantled to the extent that large-scale publishing becomes unsustainable. (I’m not talking about self-publishing here: it has its own micro-economy that is distinctly related to the efforts of the individual author.  But self-publishing is not viable for many types of book, including multi-author works and the numerous academic or non-fiction works that need high levels of pre-publication investment.)  Richard Hooper’s collaborative work demonstrates this patient, reasoned approach at its best.

The backbone of the 9th edition of Clark consists of a series of ‘model’ contracts pertaining to most of the different types of publishing situation  – print and digital, individual and collective, direct and through third parties – for publishers and authors to consult.  Most of them can be amended according to individual needs and circumstances.  The ‘precedents’ therefore collectively represent an up-to-date compendium of best practice in publishing which takes into account all of the recent legislation and the industry’s informed responses to it.

The book offers much more than that, however.  The prefaces to the precedents, the introduction and the nine extensive appendices together explain the context in which the precedents have been set – i.e., the complex world in which writers and publishers have to operate today.  I found Appendix G, which explains exactly what an author’s ‘moral rights’ are, particularly fascinating.  I’d go further, and say that this book has yet more significance: for the collected precedents, commentaries and articles which it contains together demonstrate why copyright is valuable and why everyone who is active in the creative industries should fight to keep it.

Each year since his death, Charles Clark’s family has sponsored the Charles Clark Memorial Lecture.  It always addresses some aspect of copyright and I always try to attend.  The lecture is organised by the Publishers Licensing Society [PLS] and delivered at the London Book Fair.  Two years ago, the guest speaker was Maria Martin-Prat, Head of the Copyright Unit at the European Commission Internal Market Directorate General.  Her speech was eloquent and well-reasoned.  She said many things that resonated with her audience – and undeniably, since it largely comprised publishers and authors, she was preaching to the converted.  However, just one point that she made, towards the end of her presentation, has really stuck in my mind.  Speaking of Open Access, she said that she could understand why the talented and ambitious young people currently studying at universities or working for professional qualifications appreciated being able to obtain yet more and more content free of charge and were therefore vociferous supporters of the ‘free at the point of access’ principle on which Open Access is based; but, in a few years’ time, a considerable proportion of those same young people will have themselves become authors.  If they fail to understand copyright now, and therefore do not help to protect it, they will discover, too late, that they can demand no financial reward for their work nor claim any right to its ownership.  Maria Martin-Prat’s message to her audience was that, if all types of writing are to continue to flourish and to delight, there can be no more important task that demonstrating to the young that copyright is precious and should be treasured.  It is a point that I make as often as I can when I am speaking to young audiences.

I can’t conclude without congratulating Lynette Owen on her flawless work as editor.  I’m sure that Charles Clark is resting in peace, knowing that his work continues to live on under her capable tutelage.

BOOKS ARE MY BAG… and it’s a goody!

BA goody bag

BA goody bag

[This is the second of my posts about BOOKS ARE MY BAG. You might like some background to the campaign here.]

I spent yesterday at the Booksellers Association Conference, which was held for the second year running on the campus of Warwick University. It was a wonderfully upbeat occasion and celebrated the many successes of the BOOKS ARE MY BAG campaign (now also known as BAMB), which was launched to the industry at the London Book Fair in April. All the activities that were built on this afterwards culminated in the public launch on 14th September.

Patrick Neale, President of the Booksellers Association

Patrick Neale, President of the Booksellers Association

Patrick Neale, current President of the BA (and also proprietor of a wonderful bookshop in Oxfordshire – and also, incidentally, a former colleague of mine) listed some of the many triumphs of 14th September. Here are a few of the key ones:
• The BAMB campaign ‘trended’ on social media.
• Footfall in bookshops increased by 17.4% and sales by 18.5%. Booksellers everywhere said that it ‘felt like Christmas.’
• The most pleasing thing of all was that everyone in the industry – booksellers and publishers alike – realised that this was just the start of celebrating the unique attributes of the physical bookshop.
Dame Gail Rebuck, CEO of Random House, who visited Patrick’s shop on 14th and cut his BAMB cake, said that she loved the sense of energy that the campaign has brought. She said, ‘Of course publishers care about bookshops; they are the lifeblood of our culture.’ She was not the only celebrated person to visit Patrick’s bookshop on that day. First of all, Samantha Cameron came in with her daughter (so the staff decided not to pester her); then the Prime Minister himself followed and the staff, deciding that he was fair game, asked if they could take his photograph. He said that he was in favour of the campaign and obliged (all memories of Jimmy Wales and the ‘free’ information in Wikipedia evidently forgotten!).
I shall write more about the conference – which was full of good ideas for authors as well as for publishers and booksellers – and about the campaign. For now, though, I’d just like to share with you the contents of the wonderful goody bag that I received at the end of the day, along with another BOOKS ARE MY BAG bag, which I shall carry with the same pride as its two predecessors, now grubby from a whole summer of being paraded everywhere I’ve been. I’m doubly proud that a postcard about Almost Love was included.
Oh, and in case you’re interested, here’s that photo of the PM outside Patrick’s shop!

Cameron booking a place in history

Cameron booking a place in history

It’s tomorrow! Making the most of the best of social networking…

Salt

 

Today’s post is a repeated ‘shout-out’ about tomorrow’s Salt Publishing seminar at this year’s London Book Fair, when there will be an opportunity to listen to Chris Hamilton-Emery, founding director of this world-renowned independent publisher, and three of its authors talk about how to use social networking to promote books and good writing.   There will be a question-and-answer session to develop discussion about the topic How to Build Social and Brand Equity on a ShoestringElaine Aldred, an independent online reviewer, will chair the occasion. 

Date:  Tuesday 16th April 2013

Time: 11.30-12.30

Place:  Cromwell Room, EC1, Earls Court

I’ll be joining Katy Evans-Bush, writer and editor, and Elizabeth Baines, novelist and short story writer, to offer some personal experiences of social networking as a means to achieving an online bookworld presence.   Readers of this blog will already guess from previous posts here about both Salt and social networking, how much I personally value the opportunities provided by the Internet to meet and mingle with booklovers across the world.  I have also made it very clear just how proud and privileged I am to be supported as a writer by Chris Hamilton-Emery and how exciting it is to be associated with an independent publisher with the finest of literary lists.

I hope to become real to at least some of my ethereal friends at the London Book Fair this year!

Making the most of the best of social networking!

Salt

Today’s post is, in fact, a ‘shout-out’ about a Salt Publishing seminar at this year’s London Book Fair, giving an opportunity to listen to Chris Hamilton-Emery, founding director of this world-renowned independent publisher, and three of its authors talk about how to use social networking to promote books and good writing.   There will be a question-and-answer session to develop discussion about the topic How to Build Social and Brand Equity on a ShoestringElaine Aldred, an independent online reviewer, will chair the occasion. 

Date:  Tuesday 16th April 2013

Time: 11.30-12.30

Place:  Cromwell Room, EC1, Earls Court

I’ll be joining Katy Evans-Bush, writer and editor, and Elizabeth Baines, novelist and short story writer, to offer some personal experiences of social networking as a means to achieving an online bookworld presence.   Readers of this blog will already guess from previous posts here about both Salt and social networking, how much I personally value the opportunities provided by the Internet to meet and mingle with booklovers across the world.  I have also made it very clear just how proud and privileged I am to be supported as a writer by Chris Hamilton-Emery and how exciting it is to be associated with an independent publisher with the finest of literary lists.

I hope to become real to at least some of my ethereal friends at the London Book Fair this year!

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