Thursday, April 2, 2015

All About Book Fairs, from Heather

Hello everyone!  As you might know, this week we wrapped up the Bologna Book Fair!  So, we thought it would be handy to give a little insight as to what happens at these international book fairs, in advance of Gemma’s more detailed report next week. These fairs (the biggies being Bologna, London, and Frankfurt – with others cropping up and growing around the world as well) are used for all aspects of publishing (sales, publicity, exposure, finding representation, etc.), but mainly are a way for the international publishing industry to do some heavy lifting when it comes to foreign sales –sales for translation into other languages.

Big houses, medium houses, and small houses in every country will attend the event, along with loads of agencies (especially from the US and the UK), to meet with contacts they can’t see on a regular basis, due to the rather large bodies of water or land masses in-between. Foreign-rights deals go down throughout the year, but these fairs still remain the pinnacle of selling books overseas.  The buzz and excitement of showing-off your authors bumps sales up during the fair.  Due to the hoopla, there are always a few books that wind up being heatedly fought over for the right to translate – and thus, the hot books of the fair are born!

So, who is attending these meetings when it comes to foreign-rights?  Mainly editors from all over the globe will meet with foreign-rights people(representing both publishing houses and agencies) from different countries, to see what books they’re selling and hopefully buy translation rights, to what they think will do well in their territory, or even be the next big hit internationally.  Schedules are thusly packed to an intense degree, starting at breakfast, and continuing with half-hour meetings throughout the days of the fair, and then pushing on into drink meetings in the early evening, dinner plans later on, and finally desert or disco. (Yes, disco happens. And no, it’s not pretty).  Sleep doesn’t happen for about a week, but who needs sleep when there’s proper espresso around every corner?

Throughout the fair, when you’re not in a meeting, you’ll find cocktail parties, dinner parties, quick coffees, hotel drinks, gelato runs, cheap convention food, and even a shared bottle of water, to bring people together to talk about books.  Each fair has a tone of its own, a feeling – Bologna is one of my faves.  It’s fun, lively, set in an ancient walkable town, and fully packed with beautiful books and gorgeous illustrations that absolutely crush you.

In an age where books are bought and sold globally throughout the year thanks to email, phone, and Skype, I think it’s a solid salute to the book industry that these traditional yearly meet-ups still exist.

Stay tuned for more details about this year’s meeting in Bologna!

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