U.S. publishers say domestic downturn has positive return at international rights gathering
Frankfurt Book Fair
U.S. Christian publishers reported brisk business during the world’s biggest annual book exhibition.
Held Oct. 15-19 in Frankfurt, Germany, the Frankfurt Book Fair celebrated its 60th anniversary, attracting a record 299,112 attendees—a 5.6% increase over 2007—and 7,373 exhibitors from 100 countries, according to organizers.
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) has represented Christian publishers at the event for more than 20 years through its cooperative exhibit, also known as the Christian Collective.
Mark Kuyper, president and CEO of ECPA, said 18 companies representing 27 publishers went to the fair, with a particular focus on foreign language rights licensing and international sales.
Michael Covington, ECPA’s technology and information officer, said the contingent reported an extremely full schedule coming into the show with additional walk-up business during the fair.
He added that one publisher—David C. Cook—was so busy that many times the publisher’s representatives at the event met with international clients simultaneously. Cook also needed additional space outside of the company’s booth in order to conduct business.
“Some of our publishers told us that the (downturn) U.S. economy appeared to have a positive effect on rights sales at the fair,” Kuyper told Christian Retailing. “Because the dollar was weaker against most currencies, it provided the opportunity for international publishers to buy rights at great prices.
“Standard Publishing joined us for the first time, and two companies did not return (from 2007),” he added. “We expect a couple of publishers to expand their booth next year.”
Standard Publishing President Larry Carpenter said the Cincinnati-based publisher joined the group because the company “wanted to significantly increase our international presence.”
“Our first priority was to meet with international publishers to discuss the rights to publish our products in their respective languages,” he told Christian Retailing. “Second, we wanted to meet with distributors to discuss them selling our English-language products in their countries. Third, we met with individual retailers to sell them products directly.”
Carpenter said Standard would “definitely” return to the show in 2009. “In fact, we are currently considering exhibiting at the London Book Fair also,” he said. “ECPA made it very easy for us to attend the show.”
Marilyn Gordon, director of rights and contracts for Baker Publishing Group, attended the fair for the ninth year.
“This fair is an important time to connect with current international publishers and also to meet new publishers,” she told Christian Retailing. “Our fiction titles are well-received in the European community and our nonfiction titles throughout the world.”