The fallout from last week’s “Turf Wars II” panel has only begun on the other side of the Atlantic. The Bookseller’s Gayle Feldman first reports on comments made by various panelists, including Portuguese distributor Karl Heinz Petzler‘s assertion that UK publishers are guilty of “atavistic protectionism that breaches the free trade laws of the EU.” Also speaking on the panel, Lynn Kaplanian Buller, owner of the American Book Center in Amsterdam, described UK attempts “to close markets” as “a last-gasp tactic driven by fear”. Restricting Europe to the UK edition of English-language books “might cut sales in half,” she added.
But as previously reported, Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin walked out of the panel halfway through and vowed to stay away from BEA next year after such a “one-eyed, anecdotal and insulting” debate. Along with other UK publishers, he believes that without European exclusivity the UK market itself is under threat, as imported US editions can be distributed legally throughout Europe – including the UK. Agent Peter Cox of Redhammer added that US publishers have only recently taken an interest in foreign rights. “Their Damascene conversion – that there really is profitable business to be had in other parts of the world – is a nice acknowledgement on one level, but as an agent, I would frankly be more concerned about selling European rights to a US publisher than to a UK one.”