Our annual gathering heard from rights experts Diane Spivey of Hachette and Mafalda Satz of Walker. This is IPG rights consultant Lynette Owen’s summary of what they had to say about coeditions
1 Coeditions can result in a large combined print run and benefit all the participating publishers by bringing down the unit cost per copy. They can make an expensive project viable and enable publishers in smaller markets to acquire titles they could not afford to originate themselves.
2 They work best for books that are highly illustrated in colour, like children’s picture books, lifestyle titles including cookery, craftwork and gardening—even medical atlases.
3 A simple coedition may involve only a change of imprint—to a US publisher, for example. A foreign language edition will involve a complete black plate change to substitute translated text.
4 Pricing for a coedition can involve spreading the fixed costs over the combined print run, adding in variable costs, a royalty to the author and a profit margin for the original publisher.
5 Publishers need to take into account content that will ‘travel’, avoiding difficult cultural issues, and to consider design elements. For example, there should be enough white space to accommodate text that may expand in translation, and no lettering as part of illustrations. Also consider how to deal with foreign language text that may run form right to left or vertically!
6 Coeditions are more labour intensive than straightforward licences, where the licensee manufactures their own edition. They involve regular liaison with all the coedition partners to coordinate timing, and working closely with your own production department.
7 They are also inherently more risky, as the original publisher will be covering the costs of a large combined printing. You need to find reliable coedition partners and ensure they pay a substantial proportion for their orders up front, so that production costs are covered.
8 Coeditions can be affected by a variety of factors beyond your control. Fluctuations in exchange rates, economic problems causing changes in buying patterns in some markets, printing complications in China, the loss or damage to copies in transit are just some of the potential disrupting factors.
9 Ideally you can work with regular coedition partners and add new partners and reorders to each successive print run.
10 Authors love seeing their books translated into many different languages!