Stand-off over audiobook rights

<p>Publishers and agents clashed over audio rights at <em>The Bookseller&#39;s</em> second Audio Revolution seminar last week.</p><p>The seminar, attended by 120 publishers, retailers and audio specialists, saw Robert Lands, an intellectual property and media lawyer at Finers Stephens Innocent, suggest that in author contracts audio rights should be separate from book rights. &quot;Why not put audiobooks in separate contracts and have a completely new model?&quot; he asked. &quot;Audiobooks in a way have far more in common with films than books in that there are actors, producers and a performance. There are a whole bundle of rights involved here that books just don&#39;t have.&quot;</p><p>Agent Simon Trewin agreed, saying he was keen to keep audio rights separate from book rights. &quot;We are willing to give audio rights to the publisher who is keen to exploit them.&quot;<br /><br />But Diane Spivey, rights and contract director at Little, Brown, had &quot;the exact opposite opinion&quot; to Trewin. &quot;If we are the major investor in an author and an author&#39;s body of work, we want to be the owner of the entire author&#39;s work,&quot; she said</p><p>The panel agreed that audio departments, which used to be &quot;the dusty back rooms&quot; of publishing houses, are still struggling to embrace new technologies. Spivey said: &quot;It&#39;s not an unwillingness to embrace the technologies, but often it&#39;s just not understanding the model.&quot;<br /><br />Trewin apologised for his fellow agents, calling some of them &quot;Luddites&quot;. He added: &quot;The book industry is very insular and cliquey, and often we like to deal with people we know. [Audiobooks] people are coming in from outside with new ideas, and we are not sure how to react.&quot;<br /><br />A full round-up of the seminar will be available online and in this week&#39;s <em>Bookseller</em>, out on 2nd November.</p>