On March 12th the UK's House of Commons rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement, followed by another rejection on the no-deal Brexit, then the subsequent vote to delay Brexit. Amidst this chaos, London Book Fair opened its door. The hottest topic of this event was how the Brexit would affect the publishing business.
The panel discussion on March 13th of academic publishers focused on the uncertainty they expect to encounter. Some raised concerns for the consequences of currency exchange. Many firms including publishing houses currently operating in the UK are expected to relocate to other parts of the EU due to the weaker pound, while other bargain hunters would seek to acquire British firms. There is also a concern for the difficulty at the port of entry, which will be an issue since approximately one-sixth of the UK's researchers come from outside the country.
On the same day, the UK Publishers Association organized a program called "Deal(s) or No Deal(s): How Brexit and the UK’s Future Trading Arrangements Will Impact Publishing" which attracted a large number of attendants. Bloomsbury's Kathleen Farrar mentioned that ‘With the Harry Potter books it was very important that everyone had the opportunity to buy those books at the same time, and we want to maintain that ability.’
Peter Phillips, chief executive of Cambridge University Press and incoming president of the Publishers Association outlined the importance of UK publishing to the overall economy and said that it was the PA’s job to convince the government of that importance. To that end, the Publishers Association is asking the government to consider including a new publishing chapter in future trade agreements with emphases on five areas:
・Maintaining the UK’s commitment to freedom of speech
・Upholding zero-rate tariffs
・Promoting a global gold standard in copyright and IP protection
・Implementing an exhaustion regime that supports the market
・And championing global IP treaties
Meanwhile, the Japan External Trade Organizaiton (JETRO) published a report last October on Japanese companies operating in UK and their plans post-Brexit. Even though nearly half of the surveyed companies replied that relocating outside of EU would have a negative impact on them. However, it could change depending on the Brexit deals and the UK's agreement with the EU. The publishing world as a whole wishes for the smooth transition so the rights and intellectual properties will still be freely exchanged.