Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Day 4: Announcing Singapore / Frankfurt Tie-up

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. During the Singapore Writers Festival, (SWF) which is on now, and runs through until November 8, daily posts will offer a flavour of events in the Lion City.

So: Day 4...

As part of SWF, The Singapore Book Publishers Association (SPBA), and the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) are jointly running a 2-day publishing symposium. It started yesterday, November 2, and continues today, November 3. The symposium brings together authors, publishers, and booksellers from right across South East Asia and beyond. 

The first morning was mainly devoted to the latest trends in book marketing and promotion, with in-depth exploration of innovations from developed and developing markets. There were workshop for both authors and publishers. I popped in to each session.

Publishing industry commentator Porter Anderson was advising authors they should consider themselves as brands, and giving advice on how they can use social media to sell their wares. He cited Stephen King as an author who'd managed to establish himself as a successful brand. 

Meanwhile, Sangram Surve, the founder-director of Think WhyNot, a "cross-media strategic consulting and implementing agency" based in Mumbai, was leading publishers in a speed marketing exercise: the 50 or so publishers present were divided into four groups, each group was given a book, and told to come up with marketing ideas in 10 minutes flat.

But just as interesting as the formal sessions, were the informal conversations that took place on their fringes. The keynote opening address was given by Dr Juergen Boos, President, FBF. 

Worldwide, Frankfurt is the publishing industry's most important marketplace for the buying and selling of rights; it is attended by publishers of all types - educational, professional, academic, general trade - from right across the globe.

As the crowd was milling after the symposium's opening, I asked Juergen if a tie-up between Frankfurt Book Fair, and a rights fair in Singapore, was in the pipeline. He pointed out that the publishing symposium was proof FBF, and SPBA are already working together. This was fair enough, but I pressed him on whether a more comprehensive rights fair was in the works. Juergen confirmed that indeed it was: "We are discussing holding a regional event in Singapore, not just for books, classically defined, but for film, games, all types of content.  We are working with regional partners - publishing associations - right across the South East Asia region. The Singapore Book Publishing Association is our local partner here in Singapore. This is where the event will be held.  We plan to treat Singapore as a media hub."

We were then joined by Peter Schoppert, Director, National University of Singapore Press, and President, SBPA.  He and Juergen agreed that South East Asia was an interesting, growing and important market for publishers, and that even tiny Singapore has a bigger population than some Scandinavian countries. Peter went on to say that Singapore and Frankfurt have been talking for years, but that a rights-fair-cum-media-event will definitely take place in 2016: all that has to be agreed is the date; the event may or may not be linked with SWF. As Juergen nodded in agreement, Peter said a formal announcement would be forthcoming shortly.

Watch this space...