Full Disclosure: Our rights manager pointed out to me this article by Tom Chalmers in Digital Book World on the value of a publisher’s rights department. But that doesn’t make the point any less valid.
publishers and the general public all benefit from making sure a book gets the widest use in other languages, in various digital formats, in periodicals (yes, they still exist), permissions of various kinds, and so forth. Even if your books don’t lend themselves to movie adaptations, there is plenty of exposure to be had and revenue to be generated.
Every week it seems someone approaches us with a new way to get the content of our books out, either electronically or in print. And some translated editions of our books have even sold better than the original English. As I’ve said before, a publisher’s rights department provides a service that few authors can effectively take advantage of or manage on their own.
For a mission-driven publisher or author, cultivating rights is just not optional. The point is to get the word out as widely as possible to as many as possible. A rights department can greatly multiply the reach of a book.