12th SIBF Publishers Conference: New streams of content licensing will increase publisher revenue

12th SIBF Publishers Conference: New streams of content licensing will increase publisher revenue

With increased focus on data protection and safety, publishers explore solutions to diversify traditional content formats

Sharjah, October 31, 2022

The 12th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Publishers Conference has highlighted how stakeholders in the publishing industry are working to leverage their IP (intellectual property) and develop innovative income streams as the content industry continues to transform and evolve at an unprecedented rate.

On the second day of the 12th SIBF Publishers Conference at Expo Centre Sharjah, panelists at the session, ‘New forms of content licensing’ said the demand to diversify and appeal to the ever-changing consumer habits is redefining the traditional publishing know-how.

‘Collaboration and innovation key to stay relevant’

Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, who moderated the session, opened the discussion by garnering attention to international translation rights and IP licensing.

Michael Beckett, Director of Licensing and Content Acquisition of Miko,a leading consumer robotics company, said: “Creativity is key to developing consumer engagement and unlocking potential organically. Trying to find new ways to satisfy and engage end-users, particularly children, is challenging. Parents today are looking for new avenues to engage children and get them away from digital screens.”

He added: “We’ve been developing ‘kid companions’ that can emulate emotional intelligence along with the use of artificial intelligence. Our star robot, Miko, uses facial recognition to engage with kids and provide age-appropriate responses. Our amazing partners also provide better interfaces between children and technology and our long-term IP partnerships for digital books, videos and interactional educational content are helping us connect with the audience better.”

Carla Herbertson, founder and director of Small Audio in the UK, said: “Unfamiliarity is often a key barrier to innovations in traditional business models in publishing. Small publishers are more forthcoming to experiment with new formats and develop new income streams.”

She added: “Audio is a mighty, niche market. Consumption of audio content, especially among the younger generation, is at an all-time high. As publishers, this is an opportunity to strategise and monetise these demands.”

Julie Attrill, Associate Director of Wiley, said that most publishers focus on developing content and not often on translations and international partnerships. “As publishers, we also need to license merchandise along with traditional publishing spaces — books, digital and audio. New platforms are challenging to identify as these are highly fragmented and people choose to spend time where they feel comfortable,” she said.

“Publishers must explore automated tech to speed up continuous publishing. They must be more fluid and open to any revenue-share models,” she added.

‘Manga landscape set to grow’

In a session titled ‘The Growing Global Market for Manga and Webtoon’, moderated by Kuo-Yu Liang, President of Ku Worldwide – USA, panelists unanimously appreciated the growth of the comic and graphic novel markets globally.

Kevin Hamric, Vice President of Publishing Sales at VIZ Media, the largest Manga distributors globally, said: “Indulging in anime and Manga became more common during the pandemic, with sales increasing exponentially across all global markets. It is also part of the generational change, and Manga is today read by every demographic across genres.”

More Arabic-language content in Manga have been produced in the last one year than ever, said Dr. Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Arabia Productions, a subsidiary of Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK). “Manga is strongly connected to the Middle East and for the longest time, we’ve been consumers, but this is now changing. We are now producing original Arabic content, and have signed partnerships to enter the Chinese and Malaysian markets,” he said.

Daihei Shiohama, President and CEO of Media Do International, said: “Japanese publishers are now focusing on the international markets and looking for bridges to fill the market gap. Manga comprises 88 percent of the USD 5 billion digital book market in Japan. We are connected to more than 2,200 publishers and have been acquiring businesses focusing on digital content management and marketing. It’s a new form of published media consumption and is set to grow.”

JuYoun Lee, Deputy Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Yen Press, said:  “Scroller readership is gaining momentum and IT companies are helping publishers tap into publishing-tech markets. Webtoon is a newly growing phenomenon where content creators are engaging with a dedicated fanbase, who are also looking forward to buying tangible merchandise as collectibles. New revenue streams are being created and there’s always more to explore.”

Following the conference agenda of Day 2, participating publishers, rights professionals and translators engaged in matchmaking sessions with their counterparts from the region and around the world.


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