Emma Morgan on the London Book Fair 2018

by PUP International Rights Assistant Emma Morgan

LBF2018 was my first year attending the three-day London Book Fair on the Princeton University Press team, and it was also our biggest book fair yet, with 19 members of staff in attendance. Our team at the fair this year included staff from all three of our offices—in Princeton, Woodstock, and Beijing. We were excited to have the opportunity to meet with partners from around the world.

If you attended the book fair, you likely walked past our stand; we were located this year directly in front of a main entrance in the good company of publishers such as Taylor & Francis and Wiley. We hope that you visited the stand to say hello, though with our Rights team heavily booked-up with meetings across the three days of the fair, there was little time to stop!

The book fair represented an opportunity to meet with our key partners, sub-agents, and publishers who regularly license and translate our titles, but also gave us the chance to meet with new potential partners. We held around 85 meetings over the three days, and built on the relationships which are so important to us throughout the year. New partnerships included markets such as Turkey, Russia, and Spain. For me personally, it was also my first opportunity to meet with several members of the Princeton team from the US.

Our Rights Guide was carefully curated for the book fair to highlight some titles which we felt were well-suited to translation, although we still regularly see publishers attend having found titles we never expected in our seasonal catalogues. Some of the titles we saw considerable interest for at the book fair included Sir Martin Rees’s On the Future and Edward B. Burger’s Making Up Your Own Mind. Many publishers were intrigued by the prospect of the mirror-image and upside-down chapters in the latter, and to hear of another strong list of science titles from Princeton.

While there is usually lots of news from the London Book Fair about big deals signed and rights sold, we typically see the majority of our deals done in the weeks and months after the fair. It’s always interesting to see how some markets will decide within a few days that they want a book, and others take until the next book fair, or even longer, to decide. Several of our partners commented on the range of titles we had to show on the stand, and there were lots of compliments for the covers, in particular Anthony Zee’s On Gravity, Jerry Z. Muller’s The Tyranny of Metrics and Vladimir Nabokov’s Insomniac Dreams.

Away from the PUP stand, there were seminars and talks on a variety of subjects, as well LBFas the opportunity to be photographed at the U.S. President’s desk as part of the promotion for the Bill Clinton and James Patterson title, The President is Missing. The Book Fair selected for the Market Focus the publishing industries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and we were interested to gather some information on these markets.

The Book Fairs represent an opportunity to hear from our agents and publishing partners about their markets, both the positive and the negative. While many territories continue to struggle with financial and political issues, there is also broadly cause for optimism, with reports in the UK that the sale of print books is up for the second year in a row. Also, we were interested to gather information from our partners on the rise in audio books, which have seen great increases in the UK and which the International Rights team have been working on since June last year.

After attending the Book Fair in 2017 as a student, I had some idea of what was involved, but being able to sit in on meetings with past and future partners of PUP from around the world emphasised the international recognition of our scholarship and its value. The range of titles which publishers were interested in, both in our upcoming titles and far back in our catalogues, is something I see every day in answering queries from publishers and agents, but the enthusiasm and the value that is placed on our scholarship by publishers from around the world was something I was very glad to see first-hand.