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The 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair

Nov 05, 2013

The Frankfurt Book Fair is where the publishing industry meets each year to negotiate rights deals. Australian publishers and literary agents will travel to Frankfurt to sell the rights to publish Australian titles in overseas markets, and some will also purchase international titles to publish locally.

This year, the fair was attended by over 50 Australian companies. Some of the Australians were stationed on the Australian Collective Stand, some joined the stands of their global parent companies and others were happy to roam the halls travelling from appointment to appointment.

Typically, each fair coincides with the announcement of several hotly contested new books. Last year, one of these was Australian author Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, which has now been sold by its publisher Text Publishing into over 40 territories. However, these days it’s much more common for rights deals to be signed in the weeks and months following the fair, after publishers have had a chance to follow up on their many, many meetings (a busy rights manager might conduct more than 70 half-hour meetings over the course of the Frankfurt Book Fair, not to mention the many after-hours drinks, dinners and parties that are all part of the book fair experience).

This year, several Australian publishers reported signing deals at the fair for their children’s books. Random House rights manager Nerrilee Weir signed a two-book deal for Stuart Daly’s forthcoming middle-grade fantasy series ‘Brotherhood of Thieves’ to Germany, with an offer received from Brazil, while Fremantle Press foreign rights manager Clive Newman sold the rights to the picture book My Superhero by Chris Owen and Moira Court to Germany.

Hardie Grant Egmont managing director Natasha Besliev also reported signing ‘a couple of deals’ at the fair, with lots of interest in the ‘funny, non-gender specific’ junior fiction series ‘The Tinklers Three’ by M C Badger, the ‘Billie B Brown’ spin-off series ‘Billie B Mysteries’ by Sally Rippin, and the picture books Little Big by Jonathan Bentley and Parachute by Danny Park and Matt Ottley.

Allen & Unwin celebrated 25 years at the fair with a cake delivered to the stand by the fair’s organisers. UK director Clare Drysdale and rights manager Wenona Byrne described this year’s fair as ‘really positive’, and reported a strong interest in Lenny Bartulin’s historical novel Infamy (Drysdale observed that people liked the idea of an ‘Australian western’) and Peter Gross’ nonfiction book The Good People of Chambon. Also popular were titles from Alex Miller and Kate Morton (Morton has some 35 international publishers and a burgeoning fan base in Mexico and Chile), as well as Kerry Greenwood’s ‘Phryne Fisher’ series.

Giramondo Publishing made its first appearance at this year’s fair, with managing editor Alice Grundy describing her trip as a ‘reconnaissance mission’. Grundy, who was pitching Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book and other titles to European publishers, said she was advised by a friend prior to the fair to ‘imagine the busiest place you’ve ever been and then times it by ten’.

Andrea Hanke, Editor-in-chief of Books & Publishing attended Frankfurt Book Fair as part of the Australian Publisher’s Association Collective Stand supported through the Australia Council. The Australia Council also supports publishers to attend Book Fairs through it Booked program.