‘Business as usual’ for Frankfurt Book Fair

‘Business as usual’ for Frankfurt Book Fair

Publishers are predicting a busy Frankfurt, reporting full meeting schedules. However, given the tough economic climate, there was a prevailing mood of caution.

Hachette UK rights director Jason Bartholomew said: “Every year our calendars book up earlier and earlier. Even though the industry is in a shaky period, it does feel like business as usual. Frankfurt is the place to be, and lots of publishers are coming.”

He said Scandinavia was the area that has seen the biggest slow down, along with “fewer big authors” coming from Spain. But he added: “Brazil is the one area that is taking off—there is a lot of uptake there at the moment.”

Harriet Sanders, rights director at Pan Macmillan, said: “These are very turbulent times economically, but we’ve been buying some really good world rights properties, so we feel very confident about that as a policy and it has paid dividends for us.

“We’re all having to work smarter and think strategically about world rights in projects with a broad reach. When the home market is so tough, it’s a really important part of income. People are cautious, but if you’ve got the right thing, the money’s there.

Chantal Noel, Penguin rights director, said there were several “megadeals” over the summer, citing the £650,000 paid by Picador for Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman in a two-book deal. “People pay when a book ticks all the boxes. The key thing is that, more and more, you have to have books that are category killers.”

Noel also said she would be surprised if she came away from Frankfurt without “real, meaty progress” about e-books in foreign languages. “There will be a lot to discuss about our key author brands and the foreign language licensing of digital products,” she said.

Bartholomew said Hachette was now putting digital rights in contracts as standard alongside print rights. “Amazon has opened in Spain, so you have to think that in two or three years’ time, it will be in every country,” he said.

Sanders said Pan Macmillan was not yet including digital rights as standard on translation deals, but that Frankfurt would be the opportunity to be updated on developments in all markets. “The English language market is way ahead on e-publishing. We are not giving something away if it is not going to be properly exploited,” she said.

The Frankfurt Book Fair takes place from 12th–16th October. The Bookseller’s Frankfurt preview will be published on 30th September and its daily issues will be available at the fair.