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A special report on Frankfurt from Dame Wendy Pye

“Being back at the Frankfurt Book Fair, in person, was like waking up from a long sleep…

Meeting with publishers and other organisations who are as passionate about literacy and education as we are at Sunshine Books was wonderful. The Book Fair hall, where we were showcasing our print resources and digital platforms and conducting meetings, is enormous and around the New Zealand stand, and throughout the hall, the atmosphere was ebullient. Everywhere, you saw people greeting each other like friends, old and new.

Sunshine Books specialises in literacy resources, our philosophy is to teach the world to read. The very first international customers I brought on board, 30 years ago, were contacts I made at the Frankfurt Book Fair and the fair has continued to be very important for us. Frankfurt is where I begin discussions for large orders. It is where I meet contacts from new markets – and this year there were many new countries interested in education and our products. It can also be a precursor to agreements made at other book fairs. The conversations I begin at Frankfurt might continue, for example, at the London Book Fair.

It is also the largest international book fair. This year there were 4,000 exhibitors from 95 countries. Over the course of the week, publishers, technology companies and representatives from other creative industries like film and games joined together to showcase books and resources, exchange ideas and negotiate and sell international rights and licences.

Over the last two years, managing international sales without travel and face-to-face contact has been difficult. Our Sunshine Books offering is extensive, our main list includes more than 50 titles, teacher notes and more, and our current list features 180 titles, professional development and other components. Though we continued contact with existing customers over Zoom, without in-person meetings selling a major education list like ours to new customers was near impossible.

Many of the discussions held at Frankfurt centre on copyright. Customers might buy the rights to translate a book or a whole list into a local language; they might purchase a licence that gives them rights to use the copyright for a work in a new format. Even when copyright isn’t on the table, for example when an agreement is made for a publisher to deliver a certain number of printed books to a customer, it is still copyright that underpins the publisher’s right to distribute those books.  Copyright is most important to Sunshine Books – and it’s something we particularly value as we reach out to the world with our digital platforms.

Back in New Zealand now, I’m energised by having been able to meet up with old friends and by the new opportunities we’ve cultivated attending this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. I was also heartened to see how keen other major players were to begin business again in education – and to share our experiences, our lists, our plans and dreams.”

 To learn more about Sunshine Books, visit their page.