A surge of e-book sales over the past 12 months and publishers’ greater awareness in exploiting digital properties are said to be driving an increase in confidence at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Publishers and agents have reported a recent sharp spike in activity, with insiders saying that confidence is running high due to the success of digital books and, to a lesser extent, hardback titles over the last year.
Curtis Brown deputy c.e.o. and books m.d. Jonny Geller said: “There have been more books offered this year than anything in the past five years. It might be that publishers are now opening their doors again. It feels like with sales of e-books and hardbacks working, it is having an effect in publishers’ forward planning.”
Kate Elton, publisher at HarperFiction, said September had been particularly busy with submissions. “There are books from across the spectrum as well—whereas the London Book Fair felt quite literary. We’re seeing lots of crime, thrillers and women’s fiction. There is definitely money around.”
Russ Grandinetti, vice-president for Kindle Content at Amazon, told delegates at Publishers Launch, held on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair, that digital adoption was improving publishers’ profitability, highlighting the published results of quoted publishers such as Simon & Schuster. “They may not like to say it, but what we are seeing for publishers is a much more profitable environment because of digital.”
Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Worldwide, said because of the shift to digital the company’s working capital commitments had been reduced. “The money is no longer going into inventory; it is going into author advances and marketing.”
Canongate publisher and m.d. Jamie Byng agreed a boom in digital sales over the past year had sparked a trade-wide pre-fair fillip. He said: “We have to continue to be cautious about the market and the difficulties that are out there, but there’s a feeling of optimism that is being shared around the industry. Some of it is down to the e-book market, and there is a better understanding of it [from publishers] now.”
PFD c.e.o. Caroline Michel suggested a better understanding of how to grow a title across multiple platforms was helping to fuel optimism. She said: “We have some great books and there is much more confidence about how to build them because there are many new avenues. We have had nearly £1m worth of deals done before the fair; it’s incredibly bullish out there.”
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