Emma Morgan: Frankfurt Book Fair

After attending the London Book Fair in April earlier this year, I thought that I had an idea of what to expect from Frankfurt Book Fair. I definitely did not. While London attracts around 25,000 attendees, Frankfurt has over 280,000. The fair spreads out over 6 halls, some of which I didn’t even manage to see over the course of the week. After weeks of preparation and some frantic last-minute rereading of our books, the Princeton University Press Rights team left behind a very rainy and grey UK and arrived in the unseasonably sunny Frankfurt for four days of meetings.

Frankfurt Book Fair is one of the largest trade fairs in the world, and attracts people working in every sector of the publishing industry, including publishers, booksellers, printers, agents and authors. At the weekend—once the main business of the fair begins to wind down—the fair is also open to the public, and has a wide range of events, talks and attractions. I had been warned that people dressed up and came as their favourite characters during the weekend, but it was still surprising to see, in the middle of a business meeting, two pirates and a princess stroll by our stand.

frankfurt

Between the three-person rights team, PUP had over 100 meetings scheduled with publishers, agents, scouts and partners from around the world, from France, Germany and China, to Thailand, Ukraine and Finland. We arranged meetings with many of our regular partners and publishers who often license our titles, but also took some time to meet with new publishers and discuss our list with potential future partners, particularly in Scandinavia.

We were able to talk through our titles and hear more about the titles our partners are looking for, the trends they had noted at the fair and the plans they had for their lists. It was also a great opportunity to discuss with publishers, and in particular with our agents, the general state of the publishing industry in their markets. While many noted difficulties in their economic or political situations, there were many reasons for optimism, and a great deal of interest in and excitement about our list.

FrankfurtWe took our biggest-ever Rights Guide to the book fair, with 39 titles. With around 50% of our Rights Guide titles already licensed in Chinese after the International Rights trip to Beijing International Book Fair in August, we were able to highlight some new titles to the Chinese publishers we met with and to show other markets the existing interest. We received lots of good feedback about our list, especially in economics. Publishers were also very complimentary about our covers; we have increasingly received requests from publishers to use our covers in their own editions. The cover for Louise Shelley’s Dark Commerce received a lot of interest in particular. 

FrankfurtIt was also a great opportunity to share exciting new developments from PUP with our regular business partners and with new faces. Many people were interested in hearing about PUP’s new programme of audio titles, and we were able to hear about the markets in which audio is growing and in which it is still only a small portion of the industry. This year, when Frankfurt launched their first dedicated audiobook conference, it was great to hear about people’s excitement for audio in general and PUP’s growing list in particular.

We’ve returned now to full inboxes and lots of following up to do, but it won’t be long until the Rights team will be setting off for the next Book Fair in Guadalajara!