Exporting in most sectors is at its very best a mentality, and publishing is no exception. The most successful exporting publishers are those whose management (and not merely a department charged with the export function) recognise the benefits and potential international markets bring to their business, and do not merely view them as an extension of domestic activity but encourage the entire company to see them as integral to its success. These benefits include:

  • Offering further opportunities for the exploitation of a publisher’s precious copyrights, even if in adapted form

  • Enabling the publication of books or projects whose potential in the domestic market alone would render them unviable

  • Creating a component of the business which is not necessarily subject to high marketing costs or provision for returns

  • Adding an entirely new strand to a publisher’s business through publishing specifically for (an) overseas market(s)

  • Improving margins from existing levels by lengthening print runs

  • Reducing business risk by spreading eggs across a range of baskets, a particularly positive factor given that adverse economic conditions can affect different territories at different times

  • Providing a strong additional element to author care and retention through the wider exploitation of their work and the opportunity to appear at literary festivals, educational forums and other events around the world

  • Giving greater exposure to the publisher’s brand and those of their authors: each success supports the next

  • Offering staff the interest, stimulus, and additional creative demands of varied international engagement

A combination of these factors can be transformative for a publisher, an author, and a project.

English-language publishers clearly start with the great advantage presented by English: it is the first language of the first- and fifth-largest book markets in the world (the United States and the United Kingdom), and of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. It is the main language of publishing and education in a range of multilingual African countries, and in India, a multilingual country with a long history of writing, publishing and bookselling, and a major emerging market. It is also the main language of instruction in many higher education markets around the world, notably in Middle Eastern and South-East Asian markets.  English is also the international language of business, diplomacy, media, academic research, and education, with the result that UK and US publishers’ sales in countries where the first language is not English are very significant.