Frankfurt Deals: A whiff of artificiality

<p>I always think trade fairs have the air of a school outing about them, but this one&mdash;coming after one of the most turbulent months the industry has seen for a while&mdash; feels even more so.</p>
<p>Eyes are peeled for the glamourous Caroline Michel and whichever agents are here from <a href="">the troubled PFD</a>; the inimitable Richard Charkin is beaming away from the Bloomsbury stand (his dream of having a small stand at Frankfurt has finally been realised, and <a href=" Annette Thomas has been named as his successor</a>) and agents are furiously speculating about who might nab the memoirs of Tony Blair. The aisles and the foyer of the Hessischer Hof are certainly busy with gossip, if not with mega-books being sold.</p>
<p><img width="283" height="189" alt="Charking at work on the Bloomsbury stand" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/charkin.jpg" /></p>
<p>Deals are still being done, but they are generally five-figure rather than six-figure affairs and it is hard to identify which are the really hot titles.</p>
<p>Meanwhile the &quot;book of the fair&quot; phenomenon seems to have dropped off good and proper. <a href=" year everybody was talking jealously about Marie Philips' <em>Gods Behaving Badly</em></a> (discovered by Cape publisher Dan Franklin and agented by David Godwin), and Andrew Nurnberg's famous French blockbuster <em>Les Bienveillantes</em> by Jonathan Littel (which eventually went to Chatto).</p>
<p>This time there are a few international publishers in a scramble over the autobiography of Keith Richards, and UK houses are locked in battle over <em>War Child</em>--the autobiography of child soldier-turned hip hop star Emmanuel Jal. But on the fiction side, most of the &quot;buzz&quot; has the plastic whiff of artificiality.</p>
<p>Contracts that were signed and sealed weeks ago are being passed off as Frankfurt deals, and hopeful agents are doing their job and talking up their books for all they're worth and more.<br />
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<em> Got a hot book? I'll be in the rights centre tomorrow looking for the next big deal. Email me on <a href="</a> or stop me in the aisles.</em></p>