Publishers should be "scared" about their "lack of ability to develop IP in the next five years", the head of digital marketing platform SuperAwesome has said.
In a panel discussion at the Bookseller’s Children's Conference about knowing and growing intellectual property, Dylan Collins (pictured), c.e.o. of 'kid-safe' digital marketing platform SuperAwesome, warned about the current “disruption” of the publishing industry and how publishers should be “scared” about their “lack of ability to develop IP in the next five years.”
Collins said: “What you are going to be doing in five years time is going to be utterly different to what you’re doing today and you don’t realise that.”
Collins argued that publishers do not always understand their IP and how best to exploit it. He said that the concept of what a publisher is and how it should exploit its IP has “exploded” in the last few years, and that IP means “a lot more now than it did three or four years ago.”
He said: “You can’t just bring a piece of IP to market and think about it solely as a book, not enough publishers are thinking broadly. You have to think of essentially being directly in competition with entertainment companies. Once you get into the business of IP exploitation and brand ownership, you are an entertainment company."
He highlighted the importance of thinking "differently to other traditional publishers".
He said: "It’s about nurturing the brand and growing it. As we see more and more activity and noise and velocity in the digital media space, you have to be able to do that now… you’ve got to build it internally.”
He added: “You need to focus on finding the smallest, most interesting platform to create a conversation with your market. Pick the most relevant, niche market you can find and start from there.”
Later in the conference, Laura Bijelic discussed the launch of Penguin Platform, the "new space" for 16-19 year olds. The platform was created in direct response to the "explosion" in the YA book market and Penguin's recognition that they needed a place to "talk to teens."
Barry Cunningham, m.d. and founder of Chicken House, agreed that publishers have to “a lot to learn” from the digital industry. He also said publishers needed to “participate” in every aspect of IP exploitation and brand growth, including involvement of TV and Film rights.
Cunningham described the scramble for rights as “somewhat of a wrestling match sometimes” as publishers try to acquire as many rights as possible “in a property which has got multi-platform exploitation.”
He highlighted the importance of being “lively” when trying to grow IP, saying that Chicken House uses the “inventiveness” of traditional publishing to create IP out of existing things and moving in a “clever” way. He gave the example of Chicken House using the script for the film Billy Elliot and working with Melvin Burgess to create a book.
Katie Price, licensing director of Hachette Children’s Group, said that its often “difficult” for publishers to know when they have a brand. She said: “Everyone wants their IP to become a brand. A brand is all about hitting as may people as you possibly can from as many socio-economic groups.”
Cunningham agreed that the publishing landscape was changing, saying that traditional rights territories will not exist in the future.
Later in the conference, Tom Fickling, editor-in-chief of The Phoenix Comic, a comic for children, said the Phoenix was an “IP generating factory.” As it is given directly to children, he says the comic is a “brand that can grow and launch IP directly to children” who are “instantly engaged”.