Going forward, the first task for the publishing industry is to respect those who voted "Leave" – which of course includes many of the people who buy, read and enjoy the books which we publish. Demonising people because they don’t vote your way has no place in a democracy, let alone an industry which prides itself on being tolerant and inclusive. Speaking personally, I had a lot of positive reaction to my opinion piece for The Bookseller ahead of the referendum vote, but the vitriol I’ve been subjected to in the last week resembles the playground at a primary school – including an astonishing attack from the head of a major publishing house who really should know better.
"Remainers" need to stop fixating on Nigel Farage and understand the liberal argument for "Leave", which should strike chords with an industry which always used to think of itself as liberal, outward looking, inclusive and innovative. These qualities are simply incompatible with an institution which is undemocratic, imperialist, in thrall to big business, difficult for those from a BAME background to identify with and which actively cripples developing regions such as Africa and South America via its common agricultural policy. A protectionist, 1950s regional customs union run from a central bureaucracy has no place in the 21st century. It also means that we have had to restrict immigration from those parts of the world in which many British people have their roots, such as Asia and the Caribbean.
Short-term, we have an incredible opportunity for export (rights and book sales) whilst the pound is weak, and the same circumstances open opportunities for inward investment. As I and others have argued before, flexibility in a digital single market won’t be resolved through legislation and regulation (publisher led solutions are already in play), and so leaving the European Union in this context is a moot point. The sale of translation rights to the EU is already frustrated by the need for individual tax agreements with each member state, so there is no effect there.
Long-term, we’ll be able to negotiate trade agreements with the fastest growing territories in the world without the need for 27 other nations to agree terms (eg: Greece holding up the EU’s deal with Canada over naming rights to feta cheese). We’ll be able to prioritise talent with the skillsets we need, such as English as a first language and advanced technological skills - so probably from Asia, Australasia or North America. We’ll be able to remove VAT on e-books if we wish to. And finally, this is great news for young people, who are most likely to have the skills to thrive in a globalised world focused on innovation, technology, networks and flexibility, as opposed to a protectionist regime which belongs in their grandparents’ era.
Diane Banks is the founder of Diane Banks Associates Literary & Talent Agency and has been a business supporter of the Vote Leave campaign.