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Good business at London and Bologna book fairs

7 May 2007

The frenzy of book fairs has subsided after many publishers had to work their way through the London Book Fair and Bologna with only a five-day break between the two.

The LBF was much improved in its new west London venue of Earl's Court, which provided a much better location for international visitors than last year's Docklands. Tim Hely-Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette Livre UK, reflected the general view when he said: 'It is vastly better than last year.' With more visitors and a confident buzz, the aisles were packed and plenty of business was done.

British editors were pushing hard for world rights. They were also trading off Canada, losing it as part of the exclusive traditional British Commonwealth market in favour of securing Europe. Andrew Kidd of Picador said: 'I think it's a necessary trade-off. Ultimately, having European exclusivity is about protecting our own territory - and that's the most important thing.'

The LBF is now established as the major international rights fair of the spring. The Bookseller commented on the importance of the Fair as a place to meet people: 'It is heartening that even in this age of email and video-conferencing, meeting face to face matters more than ever.'

This is even more true of the Bologna Book Fair, given that children's publishing inhabits its own special world. Logistically it was tricky for the publishers involved in both fairs to get their stands from London to Bologna in just five days, but for many international, and especially American, visitors it was cost-effective and efficient to be able to combine both fairs in the same trip.

Bologna was very lively this year. Movie scouts were out in force, looking for books to make into family films. Barry Cunningham of Chicken House said that half his appointments at the Fair were with movie people. But there was also good news on the picture book front, with a resurgence of interest internationally, although it was very much focused on the best books in much slimmed-down lists. The huge interest in fiction continues, with many new series and growing interest in children's publishing from countries where it is expanding fast, such as South America and Eastern Europe.

Given the costs of producing illustrated children's books and the need to spread these across a good co-edition in a number of different languages, Bologna has always been a very international fair. But both of these key spring fairs show the extent to which the book business is increasingly reaching out across the world. For many books publishers can now offer successful authors a global market, and US and translation rights may represent huge potential sources of revenue.

International Book Fairs 2007

Frankfurt Book Fair

The English language market