Thursday, April 19, 2007

The London Book Fair and the Case of the Missing Rights

Yesterday, as I was reading this article about the London Book Fair, learning how the agents and editors “schmooze,” as the article puts it, and make deals at this fair (which doesn’t seem to include many actual writers, not to even mention translators), I came across the following sentence: “They do so [that is, schmooze and make deals] every fall at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but increasingly London is their gathering place in the spring, above all for the lucrative part of the publishing industry that involves selling foreign rights for English-language books.”

“Foreign rights for English-language books.”

So what happened to the English rights for foreign-language books? Does anyone else find it sad (but, unfortunately, not surprising) that a major international book fair is focused on spreading English-language material rather than (or in addition to) on making it possible for publishers to expose English-speaking audiences to all the great books in other languages? I’ve said before, I find it lamentable, and worth working to change.

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