The European market is back with a bang this year, with foreign publishers moving “quickly and ambitiously” to secure several big deals during the course of London Book Fair.
“Books of the Fair” have been pounced on by European publishers, leading to a rights-selling frenzy across the continent. They have included Happiness for Humans by P Z Reizin, snapped up by Sphere, with rights sold in 10 territories and offers received in three more and Ragdoll, the first title in a series by Daniel Cole, which has sold (or is under offer) in no fewer than 14 territories. Orion’s Trapeze imprint snapped up UK and Commonwealth rights last week.
Martha Conway’s historical novel The Floating Theatre, represented by Conville & Walsh agent Sue Armstrong, was “snapped up very quickly” in five territories: the UK (Bonnier), Germany (Goldmann), the Netherlands (Ambo Anthos), Norway (Gyldendal) and Spain (HarperCollins Ibérica), with Italy under offer. Seven-figure trio Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Chloé Esposito is still being snapped up in new territories, after being bought by Michael Joseph.
Sam Eades, senior commissioning editor for Trapeze, said: “The fair feels really buzzy and buoyant, with European publishers moving quickly and ambitiously on key titles.”
Armstrong, who also represents author Cole, said: “Offers continue to come in and auctions keep kicking off, so from my perspective the European market feels incredibly positive.” The German and Scandinavian markets have been particularly strong, agents and publishers have reported, although Pan Macmillan publisher Jeremy Trevathan said they were also “very choosy”.
He said: “German auctions, in particular, are going slightly crazy for the right books. The Spanish,Italian and Portuguese markets are definitely picking up, but from a very low base. French publishing seems to be in the doldrums slightly, still suffering the reverberations of the recent terrorist attacks.”
Agent Juliet Mushens, whose manuscript The Feed by Nick Clark Windo generated huge excitement ahead of the fair when it was sold to Headline for a six-figure sum, said the industry was seeing “quick responses in Serbia at the moment: there
was an auction there for The Feed overnight—a first for me!”
Such activity comes, said Maddie West, deputy publisher at Sphere, in spite of some European markets acting “in the face of some challenging economic conditions”.