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The New York Times' Alan Riding has been at LBF all week and seems, at least for the purposes of this article, to have a golly-gee approach to the trade show that’s less about celebrating books, he says, and more about “the art of the deal.” And even though the mood is optimistic and lots of agents are getting face time with publishers and their foreign rights crew, the consensus is that, well, there is no consensus book. “You won’t get a ‘book of the fair”as you did 10 or 15 years ago,” said Tom Weldon, managing director at Penguin General, one of Penguin’s divisions. “With the Internet and all the other information that is out there, you no longer get huge deals here. The hard work is about foreign rights and exports.”
Meanwhile, National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman has been filing dispatches from LBF for the NBCC blog (full disclosure: I’m a member) where he reports on Monday’s panel with John Banville and what books are about to be released in the UK this fall, which Freeman finds to be “sort of useful since England’s publishing schedules tend to be a bit ahead of America’s — and they’re packed.”
And over at the Bookseller, Alison Bone reports that UK trade publishers are using the platform of the London Book Fair to make a definitive stance on territorial copyright, with editors pushing hard for world rights deals or if need be, UK/Commonwealth with Canada excluded. “I think it’s a necessary trade-off,” said Picador publisher Andrew Kidd, who has just bought UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada rights for BREATH by Tim Winton. “Ultimately, having European exclusivity is about protecting our own territory–and that’s the most important thing.” But Association of Authors’ Agents president Clare Alexander said some publishers are not good at handling world rights. “It’s a simple ‘solution’ for publishers to control everything but it may not be the right answer,” she said, adding that a policy of exchanging Europe for Canada is “extremely insulting to the Canadians”.