Publishers need to embrace a global rights acquisition strategy, HarperCollins’ chief digital officer and executive v.p Chantal Restivo-Alessi has said, hours after the publisher announced its second worldwide deal with Karin Slaughter.
Restivo-Alessi emphasised the opportunities of burgeoning digital technology and consumption at The Bookseller’s FutureBook conference in London on Friday (1st December). She said publishers should learn from the appetite of streaming companies such as Netflix, and how it uses consumer insights across all markets to influence its global delivery.
While praising the fact that it helped authors to connect, Restivo-Alessi also underlined that an integrated strategy should “reduce the burden on the author”. She said: “You optimise the author’s assets and optimise their time…Really the author should be writing and not spending time on social media and marketing – we should think how to minimise that time as much as possible.”
Publishers should also recognise that a global strategy can target fan bases more systematically, with features such as Facebook Live an effective way to engage with readers across the world. “Fans are global themselves, they are not just sitting in one market, they are sitting in multiple markets,” Restivo-Alessi said. “Pretty obvious to me, having worked in music, is having global coordination. Benefitting from different ideas… innovation can come from anywhere but it does change your mindset. You have to be open-minded and be prepared to collaborate.”
She added: “It is amazing what you see and can learn working with different countries.”
There was “a lot of misunderstanding”, about the agency of the local publishers, but they have more control and choice over product delivery than it may appear externally, she said. The coordinated approach supported local HarperCollins arms' choices rather than forcing their hand, the chief digital officer revealed. “It’s not one-size fits at all," she said. "We have local publishers publishing in local languages. They’re free to pick and support whatever product they see fit, whatever author they see fit. What we provide though is a coordination so there’s a central team to provide certain services. So you get the combination of local knowledge and central coordination.”
Restivo-Alessi also discussed how film tie-ins reinforced the need for a global approach and cited the success of “Fantastic Beasts”, based on J K Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which included a number of accompanying books through a deal with Warner Bros. “Working globally [in this context] makes a lot of sense," she said. "A lot of studios are set up to work globally themselves.” The coordinated set-up also helped to keep security tight: “There was no piracy, no leakage, complete asset control with "Fantastic Beasts",”she said.
The HarperCollins v.p maintained that the industry is “only at the beginning of the journey” but that “for certain brands and certain author this is the way of the future.”
HarperCollins revealed a second global deal with Slaughter hours before Restivo-Alessi took to the stage featuring four more books in English as well as more than a dozen additional languages.