Snapshot for 12 October 2018

Snapshot for 12 October 2018

Judging by the energy on The London Book Fair stand at its party in Frankfurt to whet people’s appetites for Indonesia Market Focus 2019, next year’s celebration should be a happy, noisy (in a good way) affair.  Indonesian authors Laksmi Pamuhntjak and Nuril Basri were among those beaming amid the crowd thronging the stand and there were many cries of ‘Sampai jumpa di London!’ – ‘See you in London!’

The Frankfurt Book Fair, which wraps up this weekend, has its own celebrations this year.  It has marked its 70th birthday with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Heinrich Riethmüller, Chairman of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association Heinriech, said:  “Today, we are seeing human rights violated on an almost daily basis. For this reason, we must remain active on behalf of human rights and make vigorous use of them so that they may be preserved. Bookshops and publishers consider it their responsibility to help shape a society firmly anchored in respect for human rights. All of civil society, too, is called upon to contribute to the success of a free and democratic society and to stand up for human rights. If we do not, the discourse will be dominated by people who seek to limit and even deny the dignity, rights and freedoms of others.”

The fair saw Macmillan US CEO John Sargent reiterate the importance of the stance it took when President Trump attempted to prevent publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury¸ as well further evidence of the continuing rise of audio books.  Michelle Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association noted that in the US sales of the category were up 23% in 2017.  There is also much excitement – though no detail as yet – of Apple’s impending launch of a new audiobook platform.

Away from the fair, the UK’s third ‘Bookshop Day’ took place last Saturday (6 October) and now plans are being finalised for something similar in the US.  An industry panel whose members include Dominique Raccah, CEO of publishers Sourcebooks, George Slowik Jr, President of Publishers Weekly, and Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshops in Chicago has created Love Your Bookstore, a campaign to draw attention to all physical bookstores.  People are encouraged to visit their local bookstore and take a picture of a book they want to give or receive and then post the picture under the hashtag #loveyourbookstore, with a chance to win book-related prizes.  “Bookstores are amazing and important places for us all culturally, and we know that booksellers help readers discover and share the magic of books,” Raccah said.  “They create communities of readers that make a difference because books change lives.  We want to give everyone a way to celebrate their favourite bookstore.”

While we’re on bookstores, respect to the organisers of the Asian Bookstore Forum in Chengdu, China.  It didn’t just have one bookstore award, it had eight.  They ranged from ‘The Most Influential Bookstore’ to ‘The Bookstore with the Most Distinctive City Features’, and this column’s favourite ‘The Bookstore with the Most Potential’.  And talking of such awards, submissions are now open for the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards, which take place on 12 March next year.

Tomorrow’s leaders emerge.  Congratulations to Joel Rickett who becomes MD of Ebury in the New Year and joins the PRH leadership team reporting to CEO Tom Weldon.  Congratulations also to Hachette UK’s Lucy Hale and Robert Manser, who become respectively Deputy CEO of Hodder Headline, John Murray and Quercus, and Sales Director of a new unified Hachette UK sales department.  Hale in particular is a well-known Frankfurt face and there were many congratulating her on the aisles this year.

Finally, people were stopping former Bloomsbury director Richard Charkin in the aisles too, to congratulate him on his new venture Mensch Publishing and wish him ‘gut mezl’, ‘good luck’.  He’s off to a good start, in fact, and has already had more than 100 submissions.  In Frankfurt, he spoke movingly at a tribute to former Penguin chief Peter Mayer who he said could be summed up by that very word – Mensch, which is, of course, Yiddish for a man of integrity.  “He was a sort of godfather to me,” Charkin said.  “I worshipped him to be honest.”


Roger Tagholm writes our Snapshot of the Week.

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