Frankfurt Book Fair in upbeat mood

Frankfurt Book Fair in upbeat mood

The quadruple threat of air traffic control strikes, economic slow-down, creaking Blackberry servers and digital disruption failed to dim spirits as the 63rd Frankfurt Book Fair continued this week.

Publishers and agents spoken to as the fair opened its doors were in positive mood. Brigid Macleod, sales and marketing director at Granta, said: "At the London Book Fair, in spite of the global economic recession, people were still keen to talk about books, and I get the impression that it is the same here. Those that are here are happy to have survived and be surviving."

Ursula Mackenzie, chief executive of Little, Brown, said the point of the fair was to look to the future rather than be troubled by current market woes. "It seems quite busy to me. Our rights people are having a good time of it," she said.

Clare Somerville, sales and marketing director at Mills & Boon, said the mood was "upbeat", and claimed the impact of digital was becoming more apparent. "It’s strange to see the physicality of things at the fair in the digital age—that might become an anomaly in the future."

Darren Shan’s move from HarperCollins to Simon & Schuster for his new series was one of a welter of high profile rights deals reported on the first day, with auctions being held for two débuts represented by Darley Anderson and a high-concept thriller written by Lauren Beukes, which was chased by five publishers at an auction presided over by Oliver Munson of Blake Friedmann.

On the second day, The Bookseller Daily reported that Piatkus' foreign rights team was having a runaway success with début novel The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne, while Random House imprint Preface acquired the sweetest thing—the official story of U2's 360˚ tour, and Curtis Brown agent Jonny Geller had UK publishers bidding for the next title by Dustin Thomason, co-author of The Rule of Four, which has already attracted deals in Holland, Italy and Poland since last week.