“The migration of rights management in book publishing from back office clerical function to strategic opportunity has been one of the defining elements of the industry’s digital transformation.”

This opening line from the Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG) recent report, Positioned for Growth, published in November 2020, really highlighted to us how far our sector of the publishing industry has come in recent years.

It’s refreshing and encouraging to see the acknowledgement of rights management systems and their quantitative benefits – to see statistics and figures which offer evidence of these benefits, cost efficiencies and increased revenue that rights management systems, like RightsZone, can offer publishers of all sizes.

Summary of BISG’s findings

The Positioned for Growth report is important as it shows strong quantitative evidence of the return publishers can see when they invest in a high quality, effective and adaptable rights management system.

Some key highlights listed in the report includes:

  • A midsized trade publisher was able to increase licensing revenue by $2.1 million over a 5-year period
  • A large professional publisher increased its licensing revenue by about $600,000 through analysis of data about prior licensing deals
  • A large STM and professional publisher increased translation rights revenue by 25%
  • A large educational publisher saved over $9 million per year through greater rights and permissions efficiency, and a reduction in licensing-in costs
  • A university press saved the cost of 6 staff by using a cloud-based permission licensing service.

(BISG, 2020, page 3)

We believe strongly in the benefits and cost savings we offer the customers who choose to use RightsZone, as well as the increased revenue potential it brings to every team. However, even we were absolutely blown away by the reported figures here. It is such a difficult time for publishers of all sizes, but rights is an area that has held up well to the challenges of 2020, and its valuable contributions to profit will be vital for helping publishers to weather the storms of the next year and beyond.

Increases in all areas of rights management

The report details findings from interviews with 16 professionals from 13 companies, encompassing trade, academic, STM & professional, higher education and agencies. It asked interviewees about the role of rights management systems in supporting rights, subrights, permissions, royalties and contract management.

Using eight ‘ROI Buckets’, the results showed increases across all sizes of publisher in a number of key areas of rights. These include:

  • increase of new licensing deals and revenue – through the data analysis of previous deals and the efficiency to process
  • increase in staff productivity – through the ability to process more deals and permissions requests quickly and more efficiently
  • increase in payments – thanks to superior tracking abilities and improved cash flow
  • increase in volume of contracts – due to the time-saving elements of the rights management systems in-built functionality and better access to backlist content
  • increase in contract creation and maintenance speeds – one large publisher reported savings of 3000 hours per year!
  • increase in speed of right management and permissions clearance – saving time across sub-rights processing and backlist titles
  • increase in the accuracy of licence-in needs analysis – saving money thanks to identifying what is necessary and saving the time analysing deals.

This wide-ranging and positive impact is fantastic to see. However, we were particularly excited to read about the qualitative benefits reported, particularly in terms of ‘enterprise value’.

By using a good rights management system, it was shown that, in direct correlation, there were significant increases in revenue. Interviewees explained how rights departments were being identified as an area of growth for further exploitation for revenue streams and for strategic development. As a business that is passionate about, and actively champions, the role of rights teams in the publishing process, this really was music to our ears.

Importantly, interviewees noted that effective rights management systems allow for analysis and mining for new opportunities that would be otherwise impossible. This is what we set out to achieve when we built RightsZone – not just increased revenue, time and cost savings (which is a pretty good package), but also to highlight more clearly the value the Rights Department can have to open up new revenue streams within all publishers, no matter their size, through use of in-built data analysis tools.

The report also identifies that the systems allow for greater efficiencies which, in turn, allow for ‘capacity expansion’ (being able to do more with the same resources), rather than finding ways to cut costs. The automation and time saving elements of the rights management systems all lead to enabling more deals and permissions clearance, due to the reduced time and effort of processing them.

Can you afford not to invest in a rights management system?

We appreciate that investing in a rights management system on the brink of recession can be a big ask, especially for smaller publishers. However, the BISG study proves that the revenue benefits far outweigh the costs by more than 6 to 1, with total benefits “roughly proportional to annual revenue” (page 22). This shows that no matter your size, a rights management system is worth every penny of the investment.

The study concludes that its findings provide “…solid justification for investment in rights management solutions and they should encourage further development of solutions capabilities and best practices” (page 24). This last part really resonates with the way we want RightsZone to develop. It is about what we can offer to further enhance your experience. We give you the support you need to uncover the full potential of your rights business. Together, with our user community, we are continually developing functionality, that allows you to uncover new opportunities, increase revenue and increase your capacity to do more, as well as giving you greater job satisfaction!

RightsZone case Study – Global Professional Publisher

The figures reported in the main report are great to read, but we were also delighted to be the focus of a case study from a highly regarded client. The Global Professional Publisher case study (see pgs 25-26) offers proof of the specific value that RightsZone delivers.

It states:

“The largest gains from implementing RightsZone have stemmed from the company’s new ability to optimize pricing for subrights sales, enabled by a more global view of market conditions and by better visibility of joint customers. The result has been an estimated 5% increase in rights revenue from 2018 to 2019. In addition, license renewal rose 180% during that period.”

Furthermore, it details the immense time saving elements RightsZone has delivered:

  • 5-10 minutes per permission for over 200 permissions licences per month.
  • 30 minutes saved per contract for entering metadata.
  • From 10 minutes each to just seconds, for researching information on existing licences
  • 5 days saved per month for running reports and payments tracking and collection.

It’s easy to promise cost and time saving effects by implementing our software, but to see these figures detailed in the report really demonstrates the real difference RightsZone can make in a relatively short time.

Rights management systems and the future

The BISG report is called ‘Positioned for Growth’ and this has to be the main takeaway – it’s not about adopting a rights management system and being satisfied with the immediate advantages of easy to find records or contract templates! It’s about looking beyond the day-to-day tasks (which are now less cumbersome and easier to do in greater quantities) and using the system as a gateway to analysis and revealing new revenue streams, to help rights teams to continue to grow and expand their opportunities.

If you would like to book a demonstration or discuss the report in more depth, please contact us