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PA's PA 7th November

PA's PA 7th November

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour Party continues to be called into question.  With personal ratings falling below even those of Nick Clegg’s there is growing concern amongst Labour MPs that Miliband is proving to be too much of an electoral liability and leaving the Party unable to capitalise on the growing UKIP split within the Tories. 

Westminster Media Forum

PA Chief Executive, Richard Mollet, gave a keynote speech at the Westminster Media Forum’s seminar on Prospects for books, publishing and libraries – digital strategies, revenue opportunities and policy priorities.  While Richard gave an overview of the state of UK publishing and how publishers are embracing digital technologies, the main part of his speech focused on the new European Commission’s drive to impose a digital single market and how this risks undermining Europe’s rich cultural diversity and plays into the hands of American-based platform companies.  Richard said: “Publishers favour there being a single market – both digital and physical – in the EU; and titles are licensed on a pan-European basis almost universally.  But these markets need to develop organically and freely; rather than be imposed or directed from above.  The new Commission, with its stated aim of imposing a digital single market on all creators in the EU, has its priorities the wrong way around.  The result of a top down removal of territorial licensing across Europe would be an erosion of diversity as markets became homogenised, and a further weakening of copyright”.  Coverage can be found in The Bookseller

A panel comprising Iain Stansfield from Olswang, Jasper Sutcliffe from Foyles. Gordon Wise from Curtis Brown, Stephanie Duncan from Bloomsbury and Michael Tamblyn from Kobo discussed the implications of a developed (or still developing, as a number of speakers saw it) ebook market from their respective perspectives.  All agreed that ‘digital’ provided huge opportunities for publishers, authors and retailers although Sutcliffe stressed the need for publishers to still invest in physical.  A second panel explored the benefits of self-publishing and the role it plays within the wider publishing industry.

The second keynote was by William Sieghart, Chair of the Independent Library Report Panel for England.  Sieghart’s second report is complete and will be published ‘in the next few weeks’.  Libraries, according to Sieghart, are facing a ‘Beeching’ moment with their main strength – localism- also being their main weakness.  They need to ensure they are set up a digital future with library services being where people are as opposed to where the building has always been.   

Creative Industries Council

The PA attended a meeting of the Creative Industries Council, the cross-industry, cross-government forum to discuss the actions needed to ensure growth in the UK’s creative industries.  The CIC began as little more than a government-hosted talking shop in 2010 but over the course of the Parliament it has found its feet, and the Create UK report launched and accepted by government has given everyone a real focus in terms of policy actions, both in government and industry.  Broken down in the areas of skills, finance, infrastructure, research and IP, the strategy – if taken forward by this and the future government – will deliver a positive impact for all creative industries. 

UK Government

The Intellectual Property Office has published a report  into how its work has supported innovation and growth across 2013/14. This is the first of the IPO’s planned annual reports into the impact of its activities and sets out what the IPO has done to develop the policy framework to better reflect digital technologies; to improve the efficiency of rights granting; to raise awareness of intellectual property among businesses and consumers; and to tackle IP crime on and offline.  Areas highlighted include the Intellectual Property Act 2014 which made changes to design and patent law to help small businesses and the Government’s funding of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

Reading for Pleasure / Literacy

The Institute for Education has released research which shows that reading for pleasure during childhood has a substantial influence on a person’s vocabulary 30 years later.  Their statistical analysis showed that those who had regularly read for pleasure at 10 scored 67 per cent in the age 42 vocabulary test, whereas infrequent childhood readers scored only 51 per cent. Regular readers tended to come from more advantaged families and also had higher vocabulary scores at ages 10 and 16. But even after these factors were taken into account there was still a 9 percentage point gap in vocabulary scores at age 42 between those who were either frequent or infrequent readers in their youth.  Other findings included:

-          Readers of quality newspapers (including online versions) made more progress in vocabulary than people who did not read newspapers, while readers of popular tabloids actually made slightly less progress than those who never read newspapers.

-          Graduates of elite (Russell Group) universities appeared to have different reading preferences from graduates of other universities. For example, almost half (48%) of the Russell Group graduates surveyed said they liked to read ‘contemporary literary fiction’, compared to only 30 per cent of other graduates.

-          At age 42 just over one in four people (26%) said they read books for pleasure every day, and a further 13 per cent said they did so several times a week.

As a new Patron of Booktrust, former Education Secretary Alan Johnson MP has backed a new campaign from the charity to improve literacy levels amongst the most deprived children saying that the written word is still far more important to a successful education than the latest gadget.  The new scheme will provide reading material to children in care.   


David Laws, Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Schools, has outlined further the Lib Dem’s views on education.  Schools should be protected from the “whims of here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians” with curriculum content and decisions on school standards made by an new Education Standards Authority.  This would, he believes, address the “corrosive impact” of self-interested political meddling in schools policy. 

This week we: attended a BBC Learning event for publishers; attended the Creative Industries Council with Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP and Business Secretary Vince Cable MP; addressed the Westminster Media Forum; met with the Copyright Hub; met with John Whittingdale MP (twice!), David Blunkett MP and the Society of Authors; and attended the Sharjah International Book Fair.

Next week we will be: meeting with European colleagues in Brussels to discuss policy developments facing educational publishers; meeting with the Association of Authors Agents; holding our second Reading for Pleasure roadshow at Egmont; attending BESA’s Annual Reception; meeting with IPO Chief Executive, John Alty; attending the Crossref Annual Member Meeting; and meeting with creative industry colleagues at the Alliance for IP;