What Brexit Means for Books

Andrew AlbaneseWhen voters across the United Kingdom choose to Leave the European Union rather than Remain, questions were raised that may go without answers for weeks, months, and even years.

The catch-all term for what lies ahead of the Brexit referendum is “uncertainty.” From stock markets to real estate, party politics to food and drug regulation, unanswered questions and uncertainty about future direction will plague the sceptered isle of Britain. The book business and publishing in general are no exceptions, of course.

“On both the high street and Amazon, sales of books may very likely slump,” says Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer, based on a PW special report from the UK’s Liz Thomson. “Brexit will likely mean an increase in the daily cost of living, and less disposable income, means fewer books sales.

“Publisher turnover will be further imperiled by the potential loss of European sales,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “After skirmishes over territorial rights a few years ago, it was broadly agreed that UK publishers should be able to acquire exclusive rights for the entire EU market. But with Britain out of the EU and the Single Market, Europe – including Ireland – could become like Australia: an open market, an English-language battleground where the cheapest edition wins out.”

Also this week, journalist and novelist Suki Kim wrote for The New Republic about her experience as a “Reluctant Memoirist.” In January, Kim spoke with Chris Kenneally about the positioning (or mis-positioning) of her book as memoir rather than investigative reporting. Without You, There Is No Us is Suki Kim’s account of her six-month stint teaching English at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology,

“For me, a memoir comes from memories, not reporting. I came out of North Korea with 400 pages of investigative notes. There was nothing about that that was a memoir,” Kim said. “Because it was called a memoir, a lot of people thought I was a teacher who went [to North Korea] and taught and came out and wrote from her memories. It’s a very different kind of writing when you’re actually investigating undercover.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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