Interview with Ugo E. Di Stefano, General Counsel – Mondadori

The digital revolution causes relevant changes in the publishing market. New business models and distribution systems are being imposed and the relationships between authors and publishers are changing.
A recent survey reveals that sales of books through traditional distribution channels (bookstores, newsagents, supermarkets) showed an overall decrease, whereas e-books are growing at triple-digit (+740% in 2011 compared to 2010 ).

We discussed this matter with Ugo Ettore Di Stefano,General Counsel at Mondadori Group, which is a leading player in f this revolution with e-books, apps and a new model of self-publishing.

Has the advent of digital technology changed the models of your publishing agreements?

Our formats have changed to enable the use of the works on various devices. In our publishing agreements there are already provisions for the acquisition of digital rights of the work and in particular for the realization of e-books.
In the case of books for young people or books dedicated to specific subjects, such as tourism and cooking, we often ask authors for the rights to create and distribute apps, software and games.

Futhermore, since blogs and social media have become so relevant for the promotion of the works and of the authors themselves, we take care to negotiate, from the beginning, the right to register the domain name. We also ask to activate and manage the Facebook page or other social networks that we believe are useful from time to time to promote the book.

With the advent of new media, how has the relationship publisher / author changed?

The authors are very careful about the distribution of their works and they are increasingly controlling both their reputation on the web and the existence of digital content of their works. So, it can happen that it is the same author to report cases of online piracy, such as the presence of his works in digital format on the Internet that you can download for free.

The presence in blogs and social networks has changed the rules of “word of mouth”, increasing for many authors the opportunity to be visible. The relationships with readers / web users are more interactive and it can also occur that comments and criticism pass all limits, becoming real defamation.

In some cases, we have taken action to protect the work or the author but, of course, our level of support for the author always depends on a single case and on what the contract stipulates.

Thanks to the advent of digital technology, an Italian reader today, who is in Rio de Janeiro has the opportunity to buy an e-book published in Italy by Mondadori. How have the terms of the agreement changed relating to the territory?

Usually the Publisher enters into a contract with the foreign (digital) distributor (eg Amazon) and not directly with the reader. The territorial clauses relating to the agreement Publisher / Reader are governed by the digital distributor.

La rivoluzione digitale sta provocando grandi trasformazioni nel mercato editoriale, determinando il cambiamento dei modelli di business e trasformando profondamente i sistemi di distribuzione dei contenuti nonchè i rapporti tra autori ed editori.