Hodder & Stoughton has won a seven-way auction to acquire rights to Infinity in a Reed, an account of the invention of books in the ancient world by classicist Irene Vallejo.
Non-Fiction publisher Kirty Topiwala bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Sandra Pareja at the Casanovas & Lynch Literary Agency, and will publish in autumn 2021.
The book has been a bestseller in Spain where it has won the Premio el Ojo Crítico (best debut prize) and the Spanish Booksellers’ Prize for Best Non-Fiction. It has since been the subject of an international "bidding frenzy", according to Hodder, with deals closed in 24 territories in four weeks. Knopf will publish in the US, with Edward Kastenmeier and Cristóbal Pera winning the book at auction.
Infinity in a Reed is "a history of knowledge and scholarship that is steeped in adventure, drama and bloodshed" and Hodder promised the book "brings to life the cast of amazing characters who have championed, protected and fought for the book over the centuries, and follows the adventures of rebels, spies, soldiers, slaves, nuns, teachers, translators and more".
Vallejo is a classicist, novelist and journalist. She has a PhD in classical philosophy from the universities of Zaragoza and Florence and has a weekly column for El País and Heraldo de Aragón.
Topiwala said: "There are plenty of ‘books about books’, but for me this stands apart in its charm, ambition and sheer reading pleasure. I love the way Irene deftly blends myth, history and literature and how she brings in surprising sources and builds up eccentric characters and adventurous journeys. I think this will be the book we all want to get lost in next year."
Vallejo said: "The invention of books has perhaps been humanity’s greatest triumph. Books are our allies in the fight to preserve what is most precious: our best ideas, characters and stories. And in times of bewilderment and anxiety, reading can be a wonderful tool to re-imagine the future. I very much appreciate Hodder and Kirty's passion and trust in this project."