07 March 2012
Authors Val McDermid, Julia Donaldson and Robert Levine joined by Little, Brown, Scholastic UK and The Bodley Head to debate issues
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Publishing, for which The Publishers Association acts as secretariat, co-hosted a parliamentary reception on Tuesday 6th March with the All Party Writers Group to highlight a range of issues relevant to authors and publishers.
The Author Dialogues Evening included interviews between three authors and their corresponding publishers. Award-winning crime writer Val McDermid was interviewed by Ursula Mackenzie, CEO of Little, Brown; Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson was joined by Alan Hurcombe, Group MD of Scholastic UK; and acclaimed author Robert Levine was interviewed by Kay Peddle, Editor at The Bodley Head.
Chaired by Dr Tristram Hunt MP, himself a published author, the interviews began with Julia Donaldson and Alan Hurcombe, who discussed the need to encourage literacy amongst children, and the central role of libraries in this area. Julia Donaldson proposed that children’s book budgets should be ringfenced in public libraries, ensuring that children’s literacy is prioritised.
They were followed by Val McDermid and Ursula Mackenzie, who discussed the importance of physical bookshops as a means for readers to browse and purchase books, in comparison to the online retail space, and the role of the publisher, particularly in light of the growing self-publishing market. Val McDermid pointed out that publishers not only provided an integral service in honing an author’s writing, but also acted as a means of “protection” against copyright infringement. On copyright infringement she asked, “Will there be a cultural landscape for our grandchildren if this continues?”
Robert Levine, author of Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, was asked by Editor Kay Peddle about his views on intellectual property rights; whether he as an author should simply give his content away for free as part of a viable marketing model; and his relationship with his publisher, which he argued was essential. “Hiring your own publicity, legal and translating help and paying your own advance would be prohibitively expensive; publishers are the key....publishers aggregate risk," he said.
The event took place in Portcullis House at Westminster, and the panellists spoke to packed room of publishers, Members of Parliament, Peers and rightsholder representatives.
Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association commented:
“The Publishers Association is delighted to have supported this event. It is hugely gratifying to see publishers and authors come together to discuss the issues that truly matter to them, and to have such a united front on encouraging literacy, valuing the role of the publisher, and preventing online copyright infringement.
“The subject of the value of copyright came up several times during the discussions – a pressing issue given that a consultation on copyright is taking place at this very moment, which could fundamentally alter copyright laws and affect intellectual property rights to the detriment of authors and their publishers.
“We hope that government will take on board the messages delivered at this event. Intellectual property rights must be safeguarded if we are to have a viable cultural heritage for future generations.”
Notes to Editors
The Publishers Association
The Publishers Association (PA) is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership is comprised of 117 companies from across the trade, academic and education sectors. Its core service is representation and lobbying, around copyright, rights and other matters relevant to members, who represent roughly 80% of the industry by turnover. www.publishers.org.uk