UK publishers have broadly welcomed the shift to Hall 6 at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, with a number highlighting the proximity of the rights centre as a spur to deal-making, and the central location attracting more international publishers to their stands. Others focused on the opportunity the move gave them to refresh their look.
The fair kicked off with a raft of big-money deals in the Anglophone territories - and in translation - with PFD having sold Romanian E O Chirovichi’s The Book of Mirrors into 13 territories ahead of the fair, including Century in the UK, and agent Madeleine Milburn reporting strong international interest in Gail Honeyman’s début Eleanor Oliphant and another début, If You Knew My Sister by Michelle Adams.
Publishers also noted that colouring books continued to be the talk of Frankfurt - Amy Hunter, rights and digital sales manager at Summersdale, said there continued to be a lot of discussion about the phenomenon: “There’s a bit of a difference between whether everyone is feeling they’re completely over or whether there’s still room.” Illustrator Millie Marotta visited the fair on Thursday (15th October).
Of the relocation from Hall 8 to the more centrally situated Hall 6, HarperCollins UK chief executive Charlie Redmayne told The Bookseller: “We are really happy with the move to Hall 6 - sometimes it is good to shake things up. Overall, Hall 6 feels like a more modern environment and it is great that we are nearer to the International Rights Centre.”
He said HarperCollins had used the opportunity to use its space more effectively. “The stand feels bigger even though the footprint is the same. We’ve kept what worked well,” he said.
Ursula Mackenzie, chairman of Little, Brown, said: “We are now in the same hall as the agents, which makes dashing between meetings much easier, although it feels strange to be on different floors. So we are on the floor below Penguin Random House. It’s fine, there is no harm in change. I am convinced there is not much point in trying to resist these things. The fair is pretty lively. There has been a lot of activity, particularly in the UK in the run up to the fair. There are some excellent manuscripts going around.”
Vivienne McBride, rights manager at Laurence King, said: “It’s been very upbeat. All the customers are turning up very happy - perhaps because they don’t have to walk so far! They’ve been very enthusiastic. I think it’s more convenient and it’s nice to feel more a part of the community. Working in the foreign rights department with so many international publishers, it’s nice to be closer to them.”
Sharon Parker, group chief operating officer for Bonnier Publishing UK, said it was disappointed with its location in the hall. “We’re working with the fair to move our position next year. We would like to be somewhere that reflected who we are - we don’t feel as though we are now.” Nevertheless, she said the fair had begun in “buoyant mood”, despite exchange rate problems hitting some markets. “People are here to do business. There are a few regions where currency is an issue but the feeling at the fair is very buzzy, it’s very positive. It’s very ‘let’s do business’ - and on day one!”