- Publishing around the Commonwealth
- Commonwealth initiatives
Publishing around the Commonwealth
The book publishing industries of many Commonwealth countries are mostly dichotomies of local and foreign names. A common theme with each country is the presence of branches of transnational companies (or at the least agents) most of them originating from the UK and US, and a local publishing industry. English is the official language of the Commonwealth and an official language in 45 of the 53 member states. This makes the Commonwealth a lucrative market for large transnational or otherwise publishers, who publish mainly in English.
In Commonwealth Europe, the UK is a dominant force in publishing internationally. The three largest publishers in the world have UK origins. Pearson the largest publisher and Reed Elsevier* the second largest are still headquartered in the UK. Thomson Reuters, the third largest is now based in Canada. With respect to size of operations in the Commonwealth, the dominance of UK-origin transnational publishers Pearson, Macmillan and Oxford University Press is particularly pervasive.
The publishing ?eld in Commonwealth Africa consists mainly of branches of transnational publishing corporations, large publishing houses disinvested by the same corporations and some state-owned publishing houses. Once again the US and UK are major sources of imports. The World Bank has been involved in a number of projects including the provision of textbooks for schools and promoting indigenous or local publishing industries in Africa.
In the Americas, Caribbean member states import most of their books, primarily from the UK (mainly textbooks) and US (novels). Intra-regional exports in textbooks are dominated by Trinidad & Tobago. There is a significant presence of UK and US multinationals in Canada’s publishing industry.
Pacific island member states do not have a national book publishing industry or policy of notable significance – Australia and New Zealand are major import sources. Both Australia and New Zealand have strong independent locally-owned publishing sectors although the more prominent larger revenue type companies are branches of transnational corporations.
The impact of transnational publishers in Commonwealth Asia is mainly through mass imports from the UK and US; local production is dominated by small and medium locally-owned enterprises. There however has been an influx of international names setting up in countries such as India. India is widely considered the world’s third largest market for English books after the UK and US.
*Reed Elsevier’s other headquarters are in the Netherlands
Commonwealth initiatives: Commonwealth prizes
Commonwealth initiatives Pan-Commonwealth initiatives in the area of publishing mainly focus on rewarding literary accomplishments. The Man Booker Prize, awarded annually and open only to citizens of the Commonwealth and former member states the Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe, is widely recognised as the most prestigious literary award for fiction in the English-speaking world. Commonwealth Writers Prizes are presented annually for Best First Book. The prizes aim to discover and promote up-and-coming and under-recognised writers. Prizes are open only to Commonwealth citizens.