Martin Jack recently joined the IPR team as Senior Sales Manager. He started his publishing career in Oxford (UK) with Taylor & Francis and stayed with the company for eight years, working in Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo, where he was in charge of growing eBook sales revenue across Asia Pacific.
You have spent the last 6 years working in the Far East, but have recently moved back to the UK. What prompted that move and what appealed to you about joining IPR License at this point?
I’ve always been attracted to London as one of the world’s great cultural hubs and with the critical mass of creative industries in the city, I knew that London would offer exciting new opportunities to further my career in publishing. I was delighted to find such an opportunity with IPR License at a key point of its evolution, not long after its acquisition by Frankfurt Book Fair, and at the time of its launch of Instant Rights, which is generating a lot of interest amongst rights sellers worldwide.
Working for a rights and licensing platform is a different kind of job for you. What experience can you bring to this new role?
My background is in facilitating academic institutions’ access to platform-based scholarly content so I find working on connecting two different groups, rights sellers and rights buyers, and simplifying productive engagement between them, particularly engaging. My previous role – successfully connecting academics with scholarly content which can positively influence their scholarship – gives me confidence in being able to bring together different groups of rights stakeholders for their mutual benefit, making a positive impact in global rights activity.
As a Scot, how do you find living in London? And is there anything new and exciting that you’ve discovered in the city since you arrived?
It’s nice being a Scot in London but not as nice as being a Scot in Tokyo. For a start, Scotch is actually cheaper in Japan than it is in Scotland, and Scots get a particularly warm welcome out there. Masataka Taketsuru travelled from Japan to Scotland 100 years ago and learned the trade of whisky before returning to his native land with his Scottish wife, Rita Cowan, to found the first whisky distillery in Japan. Their story was recently adapted into a television drama so the Japanese can’t get enough of all things Scottish these days. As for being a Scot in London, every morning on my way to work I pass by the memorial marking the rough location where William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered, so that doesn’t augur all that well! Just kidding, I can find haggis at my local supermarket which I’m delighted about. Since moving to London I’ve been enjoying exploring bookshops, of which London boasts some splendid ones, the oldest being Hatchards which has been selling books since 1797, and food markets, my favourite one being Borough market. There is something about the smell of cheese first thing in the morning that puts a spring in my step!
What kind of books do you read for pleasure? And is there any title in particular that you could recommend right now?
My entire book collection is currently 6,000 miles away, pending its move to London, but since I’ve been here I’ve built up a wee shelf-full of titles consisting of PJ Wodehouse (I’m starting the Jeeves series), James Clavell’s Whirlwind (the last book in his Asian saga which has been an epic voyage so far), and Pushkin’s Tales of Belkin. Although there are many editions of Pushkin’s prose out there, I thoroughly recommend Penguin Classics’ latest, Novels, Tales, Journeys by Alexander Pushkin, which has just been published. If you’ve never read him before, I recommend you read his short novella The Captains Daughter or the short story The Queen of Spades to see if he is the right Russian for you!
Is there a book you have read that you would love to see made into a film or tv series? Maybe an undiscovered gem?
If someone could pull off a decent book-to-screen adaptation of Lermontov’s Hero Of Our Time then I would be thrilled. I recently watched a nine-hour Russian TV drama adaptation which had a believable Pechorin, the hero…or anti-hero… of the story, but the rest of the cast were dreadful, hilariously so. Admittedly I’m not the best judge as during the nine-hour play time there were no English subtitles and I don’t speak a word of Russian! Maybe it might just be better left alone as the single greatest book ever written…in my wee opinion!