Almost four weeks since the British public went to the polls, and the result was a vote to leave the EU. Following this, the British government has said that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. This statement has particularly alarmed the Publisher’s Association of the UK, as well as numerous other industries and agencies. Does the statement reflect exactly what it seems to – that Brexit is the only solid fact that the rest of the world just has to work around? Will there be major changes to all industries, including publishing? The most relevant question for us, however, is how is this vote going to impact the Irish publishing industry in relation to Britain?
As this is Publishing Ireland’s first blog post in a while, it seemed appropriate to talk about something relevant. It’s now Publishing Ireland’s turn to at least make some comment. Brexit is relevant to us – just because we are based in another country does not mean that it isn’t a very real concern. Irish publishers based in Britain will have the same fears that Scottish, Welsh and English publishers about what the future is going to hold for them concerning their industry. In whatever way Brexit impacts the British publishing industry, it’s going to impact Ireland as well. Our links with the British literary world are just too strong, so changes are obviously going to be felt by the Irish publishing sector both here and amongst our colleagues overseas.
A lot of people are scared. Some people are merely concerned. But although the initial panic has subsided, there’s still enormous uncertainty about the state of the industry, and what its future will hold. It is possible that the Irish publishing industry will remain untouched by this, but we need to expect that there will be changes and that we may have to adapt to them. The real concern lies with Irish publishers working within Britain. What can they do only wait to see how all of this pans out? What the publishing industry in Ireland has to do is offer support to British publishing and concerned Irish publishers in Britain. The UK Publisher’s Association isn’t entirely convinced of anything, if their meeting in London last week is anything to go by. An article in Publishing Perspectives (you can read it here) describes a ‘Brexit Breakfast’ held in London and organised by the Bookseller, consisting of a panel of individuals from the UK publishing industry to discuss the ramifications of Brexit. The general uncertainty of the whole affair was a main concern, so the meeting provided a means of discussing these concerns with one another. There were technical worries to think about, such as funding opportunities that could be lost and copyright laws that could now be an issue following the vote.
The worry now is that the supports that Britain had once been able to avail of as a member of the EU such as copyright laws, business and cultural grants, as well as connections with other members, could be up in the air. However, it could also be that the changes will not be as significant as people may fear. Also, publishers from around Europe, although opposed to the vote, seem to be supportive and are optimistic about encouraging European unity. An article in the bookseller which you can read here talks about the encouragement coming from independent, who want to keep up connections between Britain and the rest of Europe. Brexit is not just a British issue, and doesn’t have to mean separation between Britain and the EU in all areas. The important thing to think about is how can the publishers of Europe offer support to each other during this time of uncertainty, and how they can stay united even facing an uncertain future.