Monday, April 11, 2011

World Copyright Summit: 3 Questions to Arnaud Nourry (Hachette Livre)

This is the first of a series of brief interviews with speakers who will be at the World Copyright Summit, for which I act as conference coordinator.

We asked Arnaud Nourry -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hachette Livre, one of the world's largest publishing house, part of French media group Lagardere -- what were the challenges faced by books publishers in the new digital eco-system. 

Nourry will be giving a keynote Q&A with VRL Financial News editor Liz Bury on Tuesday June 7th, 2011, first day of the Summit in Brussels

Hachette Livre CEO
Arnaud Nourry
Q: Why did you accept CISAC’s invitation to take part in the 2011 World Copyright Summit?
Arnaud Nourry: Faced with the digital floodtide, it is essential today that the publishing industry look at the issue of copyright from a worldwide perspective. The immaterial nature of digital books is a challenge for the intellectual property principle of territoriality. In this respect, it would be tempting to rename this meeting in order to reflect the fact that there is not “one” copyright in the singular but copyrights in the plural. Any move to impose uniformity on intellectual property laws would align them all on the smallest common denominator and result in the impoverishment of the whole publishing value chain. Even though the existence of these different legal systems is compatible with the digital environment, solutions need to be invented so that full advantage can be taken of new distribution alternatives, while protecting authors’ rights. We need to apply ourselves to this task.

Q: Like other creative industries, book publishing is undergoing a digital revolution. How do you view it?
Arnaud Nourry: At Hachette Livre, we view it in the only possible way: by looking forward. No company can let a revolution take it by surprise, because managing change is key to its survival. We do business in several territories, and particularly the USA, which gives us good visibility. To anticipate means digitising all new content and catalogues so that users of tablets, smartphones and readers can find the content that will keep their equipment replenished with an attractive offering and are not tempted by piracy; it means guaranteeing multi-channel distribution of our works before a digital or telco giant decides to lose money on books in order to drive sales of other products, as has so often happened in the past.

Q: The Summit’s slogan is “Creating value in the digital economy”. How can value be created in the creative industries in the digital age?
Arnaud Nourry: We must bear in mind the challenges some cultural industries have faced with the digital revolution: maintaining value is as much a priority as creating value. If the publishing industry succeeds in establishing a digital ecosystem that is respectful of the cultural dimension of books (attractive offering, pricing policy and diversified distribution) then it will be possible to create value; because, in that case, books will fully benefit from the multiplication of reading devices. We are on the verge of this revolution: digital readers and multi-purpose tablets are starting to become part of the daily lives of readers. This means more reading opportunities for each user and new territories opening up for each book. It is up to us, as authors, publishers and booksellers, to be ready.

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