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Frankfurt Book Fair 2013: The most important rights sales opportunity

Katie P.

Rights and Permissions team attending meetings at the Cambridge University Press stand at Frankfurt Book Fair.

The week of the Frankfurt Book Fair is the most important sales opportunity of the year for the Rights Sales Team here at Cambridge University Press.

It allows us to meet many of our customers in a short space of time, maintain existing relationships and build new ones. Along with the London Book Fair (8-10th April 2014) and the sales trips we take to our markets throughout the year, it is the best occasion for presenting publishers with the books that Cambridge University Press will be publishing in the next six months.

This year, publishers started contacting us to arrange appointments in July, and by the time we set out for the Fair, 136 meetings were booked for the four days.

Preparation for the Fair begins for the Rights Team as early as June, when we start the process of selecting the titles which we believe will be of most interest to publishers. The Rights Catalogue we create from this selection process includes around one hundred titles which we believe to have the best potential for translation. This year, publishers started contacting us to arrange appointments in July, and by the time we set out for the Fair, 136 meetings were booked for the four days! The few free slots we do have are quickly filled up at the Fair, as many more publishers approach us ad-hoc on the stand.

The main purpose of the meetings is to show our foreign partners the books we are publishing this year and log any interests they might have in these titles. When we return to the Cambridge office, we send copies of these books to the publishers who are interested in them. The publishers can then decide whether they wish to acquire the translation rights to these books with a view to publishing and selling them in their own language. Last year at the Fair, we logged 470 interests over the course of four days.

Popular titles at this year’s Book Fair

Interests at this year’s Fair have ranged across all subject areas, although History is, as ever, one of our most popular subjects. New editions of A Concise History of Greece by Richard Clogg, A Concise History of France by Roger Price and A Concise History of Italy by Christopher Duggan are soon to be published, with previous editions selling into over twenty languages between them, and publishers once again interested in one of the Press’s most recognisable series. Other popular books at the Fair this year include Imagining Europe by Chiara Bottici and Benoît Challand, Red Nations by Jeremy Smith, and How Humans Learn to Think Mathematically by David Tall.

Katie Scarff, Rights Sales Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa says of this year’s Fair:

‘Although many publishers are still feeling the effects of the recession, we are seeing strong interest in our titles, which attests to the enduring appeal of the Cambridge brand. Publishers are perhaps more selective than they used to be when expressing interest in titles, but they are also more likely to take the title beyond the interest stage and acquire rights in the work.’

As a team, Rights Sales meets a truly international spectrum of publishers, from Argentina to Japan, via Europe and the Middle East. This year, we are meeting customers from over thirty countries. As such, Frankfurt presents the best opportunity for meeting many customers all in one place.

Each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair selects one country as its market focus for the week. This year, the spotlight is on Brazil, whose book market has seen huge growth in the past few years. Brazil is one of our largest markets for sales, and since the last Frankfurt Book Fair we have signed 25 contracts with Brazilian publishers, including our biggest deal ever in Brazil for the fourth edition of Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology.


Although the Fair is primarily an opportunity for the team to present titles to publishers and log their interests, by lunchtime on the second day, we had already closed four deals, including Jeremy Herf’s Reactionary Modernism in Turkish. While the book was published over a quarter of a century ago, the publisher who acquired the rights feels it is still an important book for Turkey in the context of the unrest in the country over the summer. They hope to publish the book in Turkish before the elections next year. Further proof, if it were needed, that regardless of their age, our books are still viewed as relevant and significant around the world. Encouraging the translation of our works is a vital way for the Press to fulfil its mission to advance learning, knowledge and research worldwide.


Read all of our blog posts from Frankfurt Book Fair 2013.

About The Author

Katie P.

Katie P. is a Rights Sales Representative in our Rights Sales Team based in our Cambridge office. You can follow her on Twitter at @CambridgeRights....

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