Publishers have made a flurry of "major" acquisitions and additions to their schedules ahead of LBF, with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Quercus all making big pre-fair acquisitions.
HarperCollins has bought world rights in two new books from "X-Factor" pop band One Direction. Non-fiction publishing director Natalie Jerome and children's editorial director Neil Dunnicliffe bought world rights from Modest! Management, in a parallel deal to that just announced by the duo for two books from "X-Factor" winners Little Mix.
HC, which published One Direction's Dare to Dream last September, will bring out a new book, as yet untitled, in the autumn, and One Direction: The Official Annual 2013 (HarperCollins Children's Books) on 3rd September.
Jerome said: "The last year has been absolutely incredible for One Direction. The bestselling music book of the year, number one singles, and now the first ever UK band to debut at number one with their album in the US, the boys are going from strength to strength and it has been great to see all their hard work pay off on a global scale. We couldn't be more excited to be continuing our relationship with the band over the next two years."
Meanwhile, publishers have also been battling it out to acquire hot debuts. Simon & Schuster UK has pre-empted a historical debut partly set in a Shaker settlement which it will publish in summer 2013 as a superlead title. Senior commissioning editor Jessica Leeke pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights to The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart from Cathryn Summerhayes at WME on behalf of Dorian Karchmar.
The book is set in the 1840s and tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who sets fire to her family farm, killing her abusive father, and finds refuge in Shaker community, though she must keep her dark secrets hidden.
Reagan Arthur at Reagan Arthur Books will publish in the US, having pre-empted North American rights.
HarperCollins has won a "huge and hotly contested" 11-way auction for a début novel described by the publisher as "Mark Haddon for grown-ups", with more big deals predicted in the weeks ahead of the London International Book Fair (16th–18th April). HarperFiction editorial director Louisa Joyner bought UK and Commonwealth rights in Where the Moon Isn't by Nathan Filer for a "substantial six-figure" sum, through Sophie Lambert at Tibor Jones Associates. The auction concluded within seven days with 10 publishers offering best bids. Dutch, Israeli and Italian rights have now been sold.
St Martin's Press will publish in the US, with acquiring editor Nichole Argyres calling the book a "unique gem" and confirming that a $150,000 (£96,600) price-tag at auction was "in the right ballpark".
The book is described as "an extraordinary portrait of one man's journey through the spinning vortex that is mental illness", narrated by the sufferer. HC will publish in the UK in spring 2013.
Quercus editor-in-chief Jon Riley, who last week bought two books by début novelist Paul Lynch for six figures, said there would "unquestionably" be more auctions in the weeks ahead. "However tough the environment, people will always be able to convince themselves they've found the book that they've got passion for," he said.
Canongate m.d Jamie Byng said: "The publishing opportunities have never been greater and that intensifies the possibilities and the energy and the excitement that can be brought to bear. Fairs have always thrived on that and they have a perhaps more important role than ever to play."
Additionally, Byng confirmed that the Canongate LBF party would not happen this year, saying the publisher had "decided to do things differently".
In another deal, Simon & Schuster m.d. and c.e.o. Ian Chapman, with editorial director Maxine Hitchcock, acquired British Commonwealth rights in three new books and e-book rights in seven backlist titles by author Martin Cruz Smith, previously with Pan Macmillan.