The BFI has circulated to authors a list of answers to FAQ about the plans for its Publishing division. Another FAQ (not addressed by the document) springs to mind: If the BFI breaks its contractual agreement to publish my book, does it have the right to decide who should publish it instead?
BFI Publishing FAQ
Q: Why is the BFI proposing to move its Publishing list from its direct management?
A: The BFI has received no increase in public funding for four years and must therefore find ways of cutting back on some of its activities to keep within its financial means. The BFI has decided that it must refocus its resources on core activities and find other ways for the work of certain departments to continue without financial risk to the BFI. Publishing is one of the activities that the BFI believes could be provided effectively by an external partner.
Q: Is the BFI planning to sell its Publishing list to the highest bidder?
A: No, the BFI is seeking a partnership with a third party whereby the BFI Publishing imprint will be retained and developed. Our priority is to ensure the best possible outcome for the list, past and present authors, and for the Publishing team.
Q: Won’t this mean that the integrity of the BFI list will be threatened?
A: No. The BFI will work with a publishing partner to ensure that BFI Publishing’s output responds appropriately to the BFI’s cultural programming and that the scholarly integrity and high production values of BFI books are maintained.
Q: What will happen to the BFI’s Education books and resources?
A: The BFI Education list is part of BFI Publishing and therefore is affected by these proposals in the same way as all other titles. The answers to all the questions here apply to all parts of the BFI Publishing catalogue.
Q: I have a contract with the BFI for a book that’s currently in production. Will it still be published?
A: Yes, work on all books currently in production is continuing and we will make every effort to ensure that publication dates are not affected by the proposed transfer of the list to another publisher. As soon as an agreement is reached we will be working with the publishing partner to ensure a smooth transfer of all work in progress.
Q: I have a contract with the BFI for a book that I’ve not yet completed. Will the contract be honoured by the new publisher?
A: Yes, as long as the manuscript is delivered by the agreed delivery date the contract will be honoured by the publishing partner. As soon as an agreement is reached we will be meeting with the publishing partner to brief them on all books under contract.
Q: I have a clause in my contract that specifies my consent must be obtained before the rights in my book are assigned to another publisher. Why hasn’t the BFI consulted me about its plans to transfer Publishing to a publishing partner?
A: The BFI must first consult with staff on a number of proposals, of which Publishing is one. If we reach agreement to move the list to a third party we will be writing to authors to let them know of our plans and to ask for their agreement to assign their publishing rights to the publishing partner.
Q: I’m the author of a BFI title that’s still in print. How will my book be affected by the transfer of the list?
A: Once an agreement has been reached in principle we will make arrangements for stock to be transferred from our distributors’ warehouses to those of the acquiring publisher. Once the transfer of stock has been completed the new publisher will begin marketing and selling backlist titles. They will also take over responsibility for royalty accounting. Reprints and new editions of backlist titles will be managed by the publishing partner as part of the new arrangement.
Q: I proposed a new book to the BFI but it was not commissioned because of the current uncertainty affecting BFI Publishing. What should I do?
A: Please wait until the transfer has been completed and then contact the commissioning editor for BFI Publishing. Details will be made available at www.bfi.org.uk Once a transfer has been agreed details of all proposals under consideration will be passed on to the acquiring publisher and these will then be followed up as appropriate.
Q: I would like to submit a new book proposal to the BFI. What should I do?
A: Please wait until the transfer has been completed and then address your proposal to the commissioning editor for BFI Publishing or for the book series in question, as appropriate.
Q: I am not a BFI author but I would still like to be kept informed about what happens to BFI Publishing. How can I find out the outcome of the current discussions?
A: Please check our website at www.bfi.org.uk for information about the BFI.
Q: What is the proposed timescale for the transfer of BFI Publishing to an external partner?
A: The internal consultation period ends on June 22nd. Assuming that the BFI decides to proceed with the proposal to move Publishing outside the BFI, an agreement in principle will be reached with an external partner, and contractual processes will follow. It is envisaged that the transfer would be completed within two to three months from the agreement in principle.
Q: Whom should I contact to find out more, or to discuss these proposals?
A: It’s only right that the BFI consults with its staff first. Only when that consultation has been completed will we be in a position to discuss the proposals outside the organisation. Any talks with third party publishers are confidential. We will contact authors and other partners as appropriate once agreement in principle has been reached, and further announcements will be made available in due course on our website at www.bfi.org.uk