Conditions of Access

Conditions of Access

Licensing book rights in a global market

By Airlie Lawson

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

Using an innovative methodological approach, Conditions of Accessexamines how novels circulate globally through the trade in publishing rights, introduces a model by which to trade these rights and assess threats, and using Australia as a case study, provides a new account of how one nation’s literature arrives onthe international stage.

Hardback, 250 Pages


March 2025

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

Bestselling author Agatha Christie’s crime and mystery novels have been translated into over 100 languages. E.L. James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has been translated into 52 languages. Australian author Richard Flanagan’s Booker award-winning Narrow Road to the Deep North has been published in 42 territories, a term which captures both languages and national places of publication. Why do some novels circulate internationally, or ‘travel’—as the publishing industry describes the global trade in publishing rights to books—more than others? Why do some not ‘travel’ at all?
In Conditions of Access new data is gathered and analysed and theories about international circulation are tested, leading to a new and illuminating picture of the complex factors that contribute to a book’s value inthe global publishing trade. Publishing rights to novels are rarely sold, but instead are conditionally exchanged in a space introduced as the ‘global literary marketspace’. To measure, map and understand the processes that facilitate the exchange of rights and, therefore, international circulation into and within this space – ‘conditions of access’ – the book takes a three-fold approach. Firstly, it draws on the constellation of information associated with these licences to gather comprehensive empirical data hosted in a new type of bibliographic database– a transaction database. Secondly, it employs cutting edge digital cartographic techniques to map and analyse this data. Thirdly, it introduces an innovative interpretive frame developed to capture the interplay of power, prestige and networks revealed by the data, and to accommodate a country’s unique geographic, cultural and linguistic position.
Using this ground-breaking approach, Conditions of Access identifies the way in which the rights trade works from a structural perspective, introduces a model by which to trade rights and assess threats, and using Australia as a case study, provides a new account of one nation’s literature on the international stage. Via this data-driven, sociological account of circulation, exploring the different ‘routes’ to access in the early twenty-first century, this book uncovers an international literary narrative that runs counter to the Australian domestic narrative, in which male authors receive more critical attention, literary novels are in decline, and prestige is not associated with commerce or genre.By measuring and mapping the circulation of international rights to Australian novels, Conditions of Access finds concrete, measurable and often surprising answers to the question: What is the international value of contemporary Australian literature? It tells a new story of how and why literature doesn’t just circulate but is able to circulate, globally.


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Author Information

Airlie Lawson, PhD, is aliterary sociologist who uses innovative research methods and her extensive book industry experience to understand the material factors that shape contemporary publishing.


Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

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