Broken business models. Deleted buy buttons. The Agency Four. The death of reading. Blah blah.
Don’t pity book people. We still know how to have a good time and get some stuff done while we’re at it. Perhaps the best example in my experience of this phenomenon is the Bologna Book Fair, for which I depart in 48 hours. I think I’m set for this trip, with a book full of appointments and a stack of business cards, air kisses at the ready.
What am I there for? Well, Bologna is largely a rights fair. Publishers come to buy and sell translation and other rights. I’m there to buy. A day for me will comprise a dozen or more half-hour meetings with foreign publishers, followed by drinks and dinner with colleagues from other houses. For the meetings, I have a list in mind of things that I’d like to acquire, plus I try to be open to pleasant surprises. The rights sales people show me things, and I may say not interested or I may say send me more (much more of the former than the latter). Afterward—the drinks and dinner part—is an opportunity to hang out with friends and colleagues I don’t see otherwise and to share industry gossip. All of this is wonderfully facilitated by the fact that Bologna has to be one of the best food cities in the world.
I’ve done Bologna a couple times, so it’s still relatively novel for me. I’d love to get you the real scoop from Maria, our rights director and a true Bologna pro*, but if I asked her to write something now, her head would explode, so I’ll try to get her to recap after the show. Stay tuned.
Ciao for now. I’ll try to post from the fair next week.
* Most important pro tip I got last year may have been when having breakfast with Andersen Press publisher Klaus Flugge. I poured myself a glass of the ubiquitous (and good) blood-orange juice from the carafe on the table. Klaus, on the other hand, called the waiter over and ordered spremuta d’arancia. Three minutes later, the waiter returned with glass of freshly squeezed blood orange juice, which was incomparably better. Lesson learned.