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Pandemic sees more rights activity shift online

by | Jan 31, 2021 | News

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to move much of the business of publishing online.  In recent weeks, Hachette in the UK – along with a number of UK literary agencies – has announced a virtual spring rights fair, while in the US Publishers Weekly has announced it will run a virtual US Book Show rights fair at the end of May.

The move by Hachette and various UK literary agencies has been partly brought about by the rescheduling of the London Book Fair (LBF) and Bologna Children’s Book Fair to June.

Hachette UK has announced a “spring rights festival across the whole of Hachette worldwide” from 8-19 March.  Rebecca Folland, rights director at Hodder, Headline, John Murray and Quercus, said: “One of the silver linings in the past few months has been working with our global counterparts to tackle common challenges and we’re looking forward to bringing all our international rights teams together in one place in this way.

“We’ll be launching a dedicated web page to showcase acquisitions and digital content from our companies in the UK, US, Australia, France, Spain and India, with the aim of making it easier for publishers around the world to access our books. All our teams will be scheduling meetings separately, with the US choosing slightly later dates to align with the rights community there, so do be in touch with them directly.”

Curtis Brown held a ‘Fakefurt’ digital event when Frankfurt was cancelled last year, and said that even by early January this year “we had unanimous calls to convene another digital book fair. We imagine it will be close in terms of volume of business to the traditional spring fairs, if not their equal”.

PFD will run a March edition of their #MeetTheAuthors online initiative from 8-12 March, followed by a two-week mini book fair from 15 March.  International rights director Rebecca Wearmouth said: “It will be an intense and focused selling spree of the great writers and books we have this year.”

Aitken Alexnder is planning two weeks of Zoom calls in the second half of March, with foreign rights director Lisa Baker explaining: “We have a super spring list which will be ready for the traditional time of the LBF and didn’t want to miss out on this moment.  We expect the majority of our business to be done within ‘normal’ time frames, while also looking forward to seeing as many of our international friends and colleagues as can visit us in June.”

Finally, the foreign rights team at RCW will also hold online meetings from mid to late March, replicating the approach taken during the virtual Frankfurt last year.

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