New research on the international success of Australian books

February 7, 2019

The Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund has partnered with the Australia Council for the Arts to support Macquarie University’s research examining the international rights sales and export of Australian books over the last decade. Both organisations will contribute $30,000 to the study.

In a first, the university study will collect data on the extent and nature of demand for contemporary Australian books, the changing nature of deals, and factors contributing to success in global markets, to inform strategies for sustaining international interest and increasing opportunities for Australian publishers and writers in the future.

Professor David Throsby, Dr Paul Crosby and Dr Jan Zwar of Macquarie University will conduct the research in collaboration with book industry representatives, with the findings to be released at the end of this year.

Professor Throsby says, “Many opportunities exist for increasing the publication of Australian books in overseas markets. However, there is a lack of basic data on the export sector of the book industry that could assist publishers, agents and authors in planning international rights sales, leading to a stronger presence of Australian titles in the international marketplace.

This research is aimed at helping to fill that gap. It is a continuation of the extensive research that our team at Macquarie University has undertaken into the economics of the Australian book industry over the last five years.”

Copyright Agency CEO, Adam Suckling, says “We know there are many success stories around Australian books in international markets. This research will generate data and evidence which will provide valuable insights so the publishing sector can further innovate in global markets, benefitting authors, agents and publishers right through to readers.”

“We are very happy to partner with the Australia Council for the Arts to support this important research.”

Australian publishers and literary agents have consistency secured rights sales for local authors. This project was suggested to Macquarie University researchers by a senior Australian publisher who noted that, over the past ten years, they and literary agents have experienced increasing success in selling the rights to publish Australian books in overseas markets.

The new research will include a survey of publishers and agents, and a series of case studies of author, agency and publisher experiences with the sale of international rights.

The research results will compare data from the research findings with industry reports about high-profile successes, identify opportunities for agents, publishers and authors to develop markets for international rights sales, and assist them when making decisions about marketing and international travel budgets.

Australia Council Executive Director Strategic Development and Advocacy, Dr Wendy Were, says, “Australian stories play such a vital role in understanding ourselves, our nation and connecting us across cultures. The empathy and shared understanding generated by our writers should not be underestimated.

This research will provide valuable insights into international opportunities for Australian writers and publishers. We hope the research will highlight potential income streams for Australian writers and inform new business models to ensure the sustainability of individual careers and the sector more broadly. This in turn has enormous cultural, social and economic benefit.”

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