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Indonesia eyes increase in book rights sales in London

Liza Yosephine
Liza Yosephine

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, April 5, 2018  /  03:08 pm
Indonesia eyes increase in book rights sales in London

In recent years, the London Book Fair has seen an increasing number of copyright purchases for Indonesian books. (Shutterstock/File)

With gaining confidence in locally produced creative content, the Indonesian government is setting its sights on expanding its market by pushing for an increase in book rights sales on the international stage.

Indonesia is set to become the "Market Focus" country at the 2019 London Book Fair, a global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. It will be Indonesia's fifth round at the annual United Kingdom event.

Getting an early start, the Creative Economy Agency (BEK) and the Education and Culture Ministry are preparing a series of events at this year's fair, which is set to take place from April 10 to 12 at the Olympia Exhibition Center in the UK capital by holding business-to-business meetings, conducting seminars and providing translation incentives to promote Indonesian literature.

Bekraf deputy head Ricky Joseph Pesik emphasized the importance of capitalizing intellectual property as an added value to creative work. By putting value on copyright, Ricky said, it would also prepare local creators to face the dynamic creative industry, which would allow for growth, as content could be produced across multiple platforms, such as print and film.  

The stand at the London fair this year will carry on under the theme of "17,000 islands of imagination", which appeared when the archipelagic nation was the guest of honor at the 2015 Frankfurt book fair. The phrase describes the country's geographic nature, while also reflecting the richness of culture and creativity it could draw upon, Ricky said.

"The challenge is how do we harness this? There are millions of content sources that could be turned into global content products. So we need to take advantage of this," Ricky said during a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday, ahead of the London Book Fair participation. 

Hilmar Farid, culture director general at the Education and Culture Ministry, noted that Indonesia's particular strength in the literary world was its knowledge on Islam. The world is becoming more curious about all things Islam, Hilmar said, with questions on its history, geographic relations and culture, among other things.

"And we have, in fact, a very expansive think tank in Indonesia," Hilmar said. 

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Laura Pinsloo, National Book Committee head and also head of the executive committee of the Indonesia Market Focus for the London Book Fair, echoed the notion, saying Indonesian books on Islam were sought after in the UK. 

She noted the example of Islamic scholar Haidar Bagir's book, Islam, The Faith of Love and Happiness published by Kube Publishing, which last year was introduced to education institutions such as Oxford University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

"Because with the increasing number of [Muslim] immigrants [in the UK], they need books on Islam," Laura said. She added that Indonesian fiction and children's books were also popular abroad. 

Citing official data, Laura said Indonesia in recent years had experienced a consistent rise in book rights sales across fairs worldwide, with a total of 148 copyrights sold in 2015, followed by 195 the following year and 202 in 2017. 

In the London Book Fair alone, 10 book rights were sold in 2015, 27 in 2016 and 21 in 2017.

"Our target this year is 35 books to be sold, and 50 books next year. So, actually, if it can be sold to British publishers, it's already really good," Laura said. 

The event this year will also see the signing of the copyright purchases of two books by Intan Paramadhita, namely Gentayangan: Pilih Sendiri Petualangan Sepatu Merahmu (English title: The Wandering), as well as Apple and Knife. Indonesia is also keeping an eye on the Literary Translation Initiative Award, where the Jakarta-based Lontar Foundation is one of three nominees running in the competition. (kes)