America bouncing back for LBF 2011

America bouncing back for LBF 2011

The book trade is anticipating a buzzing London Book Fair after the washout of the 2010 event, with a stronger US presence than there has been in recent years.

Senior figures from America will be among the visitors, including HarperCollins senior vice-president and publisher Jonathan Burnham, Random House publisher Susan Kamil, Reagan Arthur from Hachette imprint Reagan Arthur Books, and Scribner editor-in-chief Nan Graham from Simon & Schuster. Grove/Atlantic president Morgan Entrekin and Penguin’s Razorbill publisher Ben Schrank are also expected, as are journalists from the US press, including a team from the New Yorker magazine.

Cathryn Summerhayes of William Morris Endeavor, said WME was bringing four rights staff and five primary agents over from the US. “I generally feel there’s a bit more buzz about publishing in the past few months,” she said. “I’ve done a number of big deals, and I think there’s a certain energy about—deals are happening very quickly.”

Weidenfeld fiction publishing director Kirsty Dunseath said Hachette staff were coming en masse for the international Hachette conference, which will bring Grand Central and Little, Brown staff from the US together with the three UK companies. “We do this every two years. This time it’s in the UK so it’s been timed so that people can go to the fair,” she said.

Dunseath was also anticipating a buzzing LBF. “Last year [when an ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano prevented international flights to the fair] was so deflating, and quite a few people didn’t go to Frankfurt, so they’re saying ‘I haven’t seen my buddies in two years’,” she said.

She detected an upswing of optimism from the US. “When I went to America in November, I got a sense that the market was beginning to improve. Obviously bricks and mortar are in trouble, but some of the agents are now seeing significant e-book sales.”

Picador publisher Paul Baggaley agreed the US mood was “more upbeat than it has been”. But he added: “I wouldn’t overstate how positive the market is. There are a few individual books that people are getting very excited about at the highest level, but I’m not sure that translates to an overall trend. Digital is clearly seen as the opportunity making difficult times bearable.”