So, the dust is settling after the crazy whirl that is Bologna, and we are just catching our breath again. Phew. There have been months and months of preparation and excitement, working with our amazing authors and artists to create the best sales material possible, and then, of course, there’s the fair itself with our rights team selling books across four days with 160 appointments, and the editors and designers running from one agent meeting to another. Blimey. Even just thinking about it is exhausting – it’s a tough time to be an editor! It’s also, if I may be honest, a tough time to be a working mum – my little chick at home often brings out the wobbly lower lip if I’m late. “Where HAVE you been?” he will say, in a dramatically forlorn fashion. Sigh. Luckily, in my line of work, there’s always an amazing book to come to the rescue . . .
The week before Bologna, I was heading home late and knew there would be just enough time for a quick bedtime kiss for the chick. I suspected the wobbly lip might make an appearance, so, as I ran out of the Crow’s nest, I popped Nuts In Space by Elys Dolan in my bag. “Aha!” I thought. “I am the PERFECT mother!” (If only.) But no, actually it is Elys who is the perfect one around here because NUTS IN SPACE was totally transformative. It saved my bacon. It was 9pm by the time I got home and the chick was still awake, and the lip was a-wobbling. Like a magician, I flourished Nuts In Space . . . and it was if the wobble had never been. “Is that by the lady who wrote Weasels?” he demanded, springing out of bed and launching himself at me. I was hoping for a hug but… no. I was merely side-swiped as he grabbed the book and settled into his favourite reading position – lying on the rug on his stomach, propped up by his elbows. And so it was for the next hour. He pored over every single detail, he read it aloud, he laughed out-loud, he picked up his copy of Weasels to compare notes, he commented on every single Star Wars reference (he is a BIG fan), hollered to his dad to come and look, shifted his position and then started all over again.
It was 10pm by the time I managed to persuade him into bed. He had read the book five times, inside out and back to front (there is a LOT going on) and, even then, I noticed that he had sneaked his light back in for one more read. It was a school night but what the heck – look what a book can do!
The final triumphant accolade came on Sunday. There had been much concentrated effort in the creation of a not-so-secret Mother’s Day card but the sign off nearly made me cry. After the 38 kisses at the bottom of the card (he thoughtfully does one for each year of my age . . . nice) he paid brilliant homage to Nuts in Space. On the opening spread, there is a glorious prologue (designed like the opening sequence in Star Wars . . . in a galaxy far far away etc etc) and, at the bottom of the page, are two green aliens. One comments, “Oh look, floating words.” and his neighbour replies, “That’s different.” (click below to see an enlarged version). At the bottom of my Mother’s Day card, Rafe drew two aliens. One comments, “Oh look, floating kisses.” And the neighbour replies, “That is definitely different.”
I love picture books. And thank you, Elys, for making one lip-wibbly boy extremely happy.
Nosy Crow has been shortlisted for the Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the year! There are six prizes: one for each geographical area (Asia, Africa, Central-South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania), and we’re one of only two publishers from the UK nominated in the European category.
The prize, now in its second year (and inaugurated to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair) exists to pay tribute to publishers “at the forefront of innovation in their activity for the creative nature of the editorial choices they have made”, and the eventual winners are decided by vote – every publishing house participating in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is eligible to cast a ballot.
It’s an incredible honour to have been recognised in this way – not only for the association with the Bologna Fair (which is the most important event in our calendar) but particularly for a prize that is decided by our peers around the world.
We’re also very pleased to see our friends at Allen & Unwin recognised in the Oceania category. And, rather hearteningly, seeing the shortlists, and the names of the publishers recognised alongside Nosy Crow (not just in our category, but in every group) has prompted us to have a look at the websites of publishers we didn’t even know about, and be reminded of the wonderful diversity of children’s publishing around the world: it’s truly a privilege to be in this industry.
The winners of the prizes will be announced at the Book Fair at the end of this month – so wish us luck! And if you’re representing a publishing house who’ll be attending the fair, we’d be incredibly grateful for your vote! If you need guidance on how to vote, please do send an email to [email protected] and we’d be very happy to send instructions to navigate the (somewhat interminable) Bologna Fair website.
Busy selling rights at the Nosy Crow stand at the Bologna Book Fair
We have some really exciting news – our apps will soon be available in another language!
We’ve signed a big apps partnership deal with Gottmer, who already publish a lot of our picture books, at the Bologna Book Fair. It means our full range of apps will be released in Dutch, starting with the highly-acclaimed The Three Little Pigs. Kate struck similar deals at last year’s fair with Gallimard and Carlsen, who publish the apps in French and German, and we’re thrilled to be able to share them even more widely and broaden their international reach.
“Our work with Carlsen in Germany and Gallimard in France over the last year has proven to us that there are business model advantages in a digital version of a co-production approach. It means that everyone gets a great app while managing their financial risk. Just as importantly, the partner publishers bring their publishing skills to create the best possible foreign-language version that will appeal to parents and children in their own language. And we know that they can provide the kind of publicity and connection with consumers that will the apps visible – and successful – in their own countries.
Finding a Dutch partner was an obvious next step. Not only does Gottmer have its own positive experiences of making and selling apps based on its own books, but they have been particularly enthusiastic about Nosy Crow’s print titles, having bought 86% of our 2011 picture and board book list.”
Melanie Lasance, MD of Gottmer, said:
“We are very excited to be embarking on this new adventure together with Nosy Crow. Gottmer, in its 75th year of existence, is eager to explore all the new possibilities that are out there in this rapidly evolving market. We have successfully published 14 apps in the past months, and have worked closely with Nosy Crow on a substantial number of print projects. We feel confident that this new co-operative venture with the Nosy Crow team will take our digital output to a higher level. Nosy Crow has developed wonderful picture book apps that reflect their fresh, innovative and child-centered approach to publishing, which is the same approach that we at Gottmer strive for, so it feels only natural that our two companies should engage in this partnership.”
… So, all in all, a successful fair, we think! Keep your eyes peeled for the Dutch versions of our apps – we’ll be sure to share news of their release here.
A lot of Nosy Crow are at Bologna this week (as anyone who follows Kate on Twitter will know!) – hard at work selling rights, meeting authors, illustrators and agents, and looking for exciting new talents to add to our brilliant list. I’m back in London already, after a flying visit that lasted just long enough for me to climb the Asinelli Tower (here’s the pretty spectacular view from the top), hang out at the Nosy Crow stand on Monday (here it is immediately after being constructed by Adrian and Leen) and, most important of all, attend the Tools of Change conference on Sunday.
The View from the Asinelli Tower (photograph by Leen)
Tools of Change is a great chance to meet up with, and listen to, some of the most interesting people working in digital publishing: there were brilliant keynotes by, amongst others, Dominique Raccah, President of Sourcebooks, Junko Yokota, professor of children’s literature at National-Louis University, and a particularly inspirational (and moving) closing speech by Elizabeth Wood, Director of Digital Publishing for Worldreader, a non-profit whose mission is to make digital books available to all in the developing world.
An image from Elizabeth Wood’s incredible keynote presentation
The conference also provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of digital publishing: there are break-out sessions through-out the day, and in between attending these, hearing the keynotes, and chatting to fellow publishers over lunch, a strong impression emerges of the biggest anxieties and interests of the industry.
The pre-eminent theme of the day seemed to be, by quite some margin, discoverability – that is, how to make your digital content visible (in particularly on the app store on iTunes). There were several sessions devoted entirely to this issue (a particularly interesting – and popular – talk by Hermes Piqué, CEO of Robot Media was entitled “The Discovery Problem: Getting your Book app noticed in the App Store”, and was standing-room only), but it also came up over and over in other events on seemingly unrelated subjects. It’s not a subject confined to Tools of Change, either – the crux of the problem was articulated unimprovably at an event at BAFTA I attended last week, at which Peter Sleeman, co-director of P2 Games (which makes the Peppa Pig apps), observed that app developers are putting their products in the world’s largest shop, with the world’s smallest shop window.
And there were some interesting (though not unexpected) corollaries to this subject: apps with big brands (like Peppa Pig) are particularly valuable as they’re more easily found and parents are more likely to search for them, for instance. Piqué spoke engagingly about things like keywords, poor search functionality on iTunes (“Apple does search like Google does tablets”) and the importance of elements of app design that are often overlooked or given little thought – like an app’s icon, which, as the first thing a potential customer will see, is critically important, and should – according to Piqué – “be simple but detailed, and tell a story without words”.
After discoverability and branding, the next most-recurring topic seemed to have been cross-platform functionality. In the week in which Apple launched the next iPad, thereby maintaining its position as market leader in the tablet sector for the foreseeable future, a source of interest for a lot of publishers and developers was how seriously they ought to be treating iOS-alternatives (and how feasible it is to create multi-platform content). At the moment, our apps are only available on Apple devices, which is as much to do with issues of practicality – devoting the time to convert our existing apps for Android tablets would mean less time making brand new apps – as any other reason, but other speakers raised interesting points in favour of iOS (mostly revolving around the fact that there is simply a much larger potential market).
If anyone is interested in how the rest of the day went (and it was very interesting!) there’s a storify post made up from @NosyCrowApps’ live-tweeting of the day that you can find below – and if you were at Tools of Change, or are interested in any of these ideas, please leave your comments below!
The Bologna Book Fair is many things, but the main thing it is is a market for rights and co-edition selling.
As a publisher, you have a grant of rights from an author and an illustrator, including the right to publish their work as a book. Sometimes – always if you’re Nosy Crow – you have rights that you do not want to use yourself, but are able to sell to someone else. So Nosy Crow doesn’t itself publish in Finnish, but we know several Finnish publishers who like the books we do and who would like to publish them in Finnish. So we negotiate a deal with them, and the author/illustrator gets a share of the money we make when we sell the rights.
If you are publishing illustrated books – and over half of Nosy Crow’s list is illustrated in full-colour – there is another element to rights selling: building a co-edition run. There are certain costs associated with printing a book which are the same whether you print one copy or 100,000 copies, and it makes sense to spread those costs over as many books as possible. So the aim of the game is to say to the Finnish publisher that not only will you sell them the rights to publish the book in Finnish, but you will print the books for them in Finnish too.
This makes perfect sense, because the pictures in, for example, a picture book are printed first, and then the text of the picture book is printed on top of the pictures, so you can print a whole quantity of pictures and then put the UK text on a quarter of that quantity, the French text on a quarter of them, the German text on a quarter of them, and, let’s say, the Finnish text on a quarter of them (of course, the quantity doesn’t divide into quarters because different language markets are of different sizes – Germany’s bigger than Finland – but you get the idea). Each country’s version of the book is called a co-edition.
So, in the course of the fair, two of us Nosy Crows – Adrian and me – were hard at it selling for three-and-a-half days. Between us, we had 90 pre-booked appointments with 90 different publishers from 20 countries… and a few appointments with film companies and other people too.
We were able to finalise a number of rights deals on books that had been in discussion in the course of the weeks leading up to the fair, and we have lots of interest to follow up for newer books that we had been working on in the weeks and months before the book fair that we’ll publish in 2012.
It’s bizarre to think that a queue for the loo (and the queue for the women’s loos at Bologna is always long) might make the difference between having an appointment that lasts 30 minutes and one that lasts 20 minutes… and that therefore, because you lost 10 minutes of an appointment, you might fail to make a deal that would have worked for both of you.
The skill of selling is, therefore, to cut to the chase and not waste time talking about books – however much you love them yourself – that are failing to ignite the enthusiasm of the person opposite you.
Of course, the longer you’ve been selling rights, the better you know markets, publishing companies within those markets and individuals within those publishing companies, so it’s easier to know what books to show to whom. And it’s certainly the case that there are people that I meet at fairs that I would count as friends, with whom I have been talking about children’s books for almost a quarter of a century. There are people whose reaction I can predict before I show them a book, and many people with whose own tastes and views of publishing I feel real affinity, despite the fact that we operate in different companies and countries. (And since we are nothing if not honest in this blog, there are people I have absolutely failed to connect with over years of book fair meetings. It’s a joy of being an independent company that I just don’t book an appointment to see them any more…)
We’ve been cooking up a deal on our apps for a while, and today we announced that Carlsen will be publishing in German, and Gallimard Jeunesse will be publishing in French, a full range of Nosy Crow’s story book apps, beginning with our The Three Little Pigs app. The picture shows Carlsen’s Klaus Humann (right) and Frank Kuehne (left) with Kate, signing the agreement on the Nosy Crow stand today.
This is really great for Nosy Crow, not least because Carlsen and Gallimard are best-in-class children’s book publishers with real vision in the area of digital publishing, so they were natural partners for this digital publishing adventure. Many app publishers have chosen to bundle languages into one app, but we really believe that there are business model advantages in a digital version of “co-edition” publishing. It means that everyone gets a great app while managing their financial risk. Just as importantly, the partner publishers bring their publishing skills to create the best possible foreign-language version that will appeal to parents and children in their own language. And we know that they can provide the kind of publicity and connection with people who might want to buy them that will the apps really visible – and successful – in their own countries.”
Klaus Humann who’s the Publisher of Carlsen Germany, says:
“The question is: how to entertain the next generation of kids? Books will still play the most important part, but other media will fascinate girls and boys alike. The partnership between Carlsen Germany and Nosy Crow is an important new element in the strategic development of our digital publishing that we have started very successfully with our Pixi and Connie apps. There are only a few publishers who have the ideas and the vision for the years to come, so we are happy to co-operate with a partner whose capacity in this innovative field is outstanding and who shares our sense of quality as much as our spirit of publishing adventure.”
Hedwige Pasquet who’s President of Gallimard Jeunesse, says:
“We are excited to be able to add to our apps publishing programme through this collaboration with the talented and imaginative team at Nosy Crow. Like us, they are interested in bringing book publishing skills to reinvent children’s reading experience for the digital age. They have developed not only the best picture book app ever published, but have re-defined what a children’s storybook app can be, demonstrating the full potential of this new medium. These apps combine top quality with rich inventiveness: best-in-class for sure – in fact, in a class of their own!”
Today, Deb and I went to the first Tools of Change conference at Bologna. Tools of Change is a sequence of conferences about publishing in the digital age, but today’s was the first to focus exclusively on children’s books.
Organised, at least in part, by Neal Hoskins of Winged Chariot, who couldn’t be more passionate in his conviction about the importance of apps as a new form of story-telling for children, it was a 200+ person conference with delegates from 27 countries… and a great success.
Deb spoke eloquently about the interactivity that’s at the heart of our apps development. She spoke about the interactivity that is at the heart of the content – we want to creat apps that children want to read, explore and play with. She spoke about the interactivity that is the basis of how we create an app, pulling together original text, audio, music, illustration, animation and coding into a whole in a way that involves lots of collaboration. She spoke about the interactivity that we have with readers and buyers of the app, as the digital world provides us ways of finding out – and acting upon – what our customers think of what we’re doing. She was mobbed by publishers at the end of the panel discussion in which she took part, all keen to find out more about what we do and how we do it.
And, at the very beginnning of the conference, I delivered the first keynote address. Frankly, this was playing against type: I could bore for Britain about Nosy Crow and what we believe is important, but I thought that the first keynote should sort of sketch out the landscape that the rest of the conference might cover. Armed only with data from Book Marketing Limited and The Futures Company, together with a few opinions, I talked about, on the one hand, digital selling and marketing of print books and of eBooks and other reading experiences; and, on the other hand. about digital products. First I talked about what was happening now in those two areas, and then I looked at what might happen in the future.
The opportunities for digital selling and marketing are already huge. One in four books – and one in five children’s books – in the UK is sold via an internet-only retailer (and Amazon is much the largest of these) so digital selling is a real and growing fact of life. Websites, electronic marketing and social media have opened up a way for publishers, who have traditionally “handed off” relationships with readers and book-buyers to retailers, to communicate directly with their consumers in a two-way conversation, and we have seen the development of the “consumer critic” – blog and rate-and-review website-enabled people whose opinion is trusted by other consumers, perhaps more than they trust the voice of the professional critic.
The opportunities for digital selling and marketing will, I think, only grow in future, and I quoted Aaron Miller of Bookglutton:
“Social publishing is the natural evolution of publishing as a business. It encompasses the web and all new distribution platforms including the way people read and discover on them… Social publishing involves a deep interest in, and study of, what happens to a text after it’s disseminated – how readers interact with it, how they share it, how they copy it, how they talk about it.”
The market for digital product is still evolving. Ebooks (and I’m not including apps here) accounted for only 1.26% of the UK book market by volume in 2010 and 0.4% of the UK children’s book market in the same year.
Nevertheless, the rate of adoption of digital reading is accelerating: in January 2010, just 3% of US book-buyers had bought a digital book, but by January 2011, that figure was 13%. And where the US leads, I think, the rest of the world will follow. Looking ahead, one concern is the consumer expectation that digital product should be cheap, or, indeed, free. As Lyle Undercoffler of Disney said, “Free is the four-letter word of digital publishing – the word that we don’t want to hear.” Another concern are the ongoing challenges to copyright. Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post welcoming England’s Digital Economy Bill, and it now seems perfectly possible that the current government may not implement this protection of creators’ rights. Whether or not this Bill represents exactly the right way to protect the rights of creators is less important to this post today than the fact that this challenge to copyright may be in line with consumer expectations that they should be able to interact with, personalise and change the things that they read in ways that suit them. I quoted Adam Penenberg:
“Instead of stagnant words on a page we will layer video throughout the text, add photos, hyperlink material, engage social networks of readers who will add their own videos, photos, and wikified information so that these multimedia books become living, breathing, works of art.”
When I think about the impact of the digital world on publishing, I think of this quote from the twentieth-century economist Joseph Schumpeter:
“A railroad through new country upsets all conditions of location, all cost calculations, all production functions within its radius of influence and hardly any ways of doing things which have seemed optimal before remain so afterwards.”
The role of the publisher is changing. If there is this thing that we call “content” – ideas, words, images, audio, video, animation – and there is a reader, and there is a process for getting that content to the reader, we need to think strategically about what our role in that process is. We don’t, as publishers, have any kind of right to play a part in that process. We have to carve out our place in the process, by bringing to it something that we can do better than anyone else.
No-one owes us publishers lunch. We have to earn it.
This is big bananas for us, and we have been working flat-out to get ready for it.
It is one of two weeks in the year – the other is the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, but Bologna’s the big one – when we meet the non-UK publishers we’ll do business with for the rest of the year. At Bologna, we have just 30 minutes (20 if they have to queue for the loo before the appointment) to impress a foreign publisher with our books. The aim of the game is to sell, or at least interest them in buying, the right to publish our books in translation.
For the last few months, Anne-Marie’s been putting together the schedule of selling appointments for me and for Adrian. We have appointments every half-hour from 9.00am to 5.30pm without breaks for three-and-a-half days.
For the last month, too, Imogen’s been collecting together final print and freight prices for books of many different sizes and kinds – board books and pop-up books and picture books, and working out how much we have to sell them for in order to stay in business. This is a hard task: we always want our books to be the best they can be – to have the heaviest paper, the most spectacular pop-ups the most unusual touch-and-feels – and it’s tough to compromise!
For the past few weeks we’ve been receiving artwork from illustrators. Some of it arrived in time for us to proof it, but most of it, because we are still new and building our list and publishing sooner after artwork delivery than is ideal, did not, so we’ve had to make dummies using photocopies of the art stuck into blank books. This is an unbelievably time-consuming, tricky, painstaking and monotonous task, and Steph and Nia, in addition to doing lots of last-minute designing, have been working on this tirelessly with Camilla. Nia finished the very last one at 10.30pm yesterday evening.
And for the past few weeks we’ve also been pulling together words and pictures to add to the books section of our website to announce some of the books we’ll be taking to Bologna, including The Grunts, the acquisition of which we announced to a great response on Wednesday.
For the past day or so, we’ve had a steady stream of meetings with people who are in the UK before they go to the book fair – our Japanese agent, Noriko Hasagawa, for example – who I mentioned in a recent post – and Liz Bray from our Australian distributors, Allen and Unwin. They have gamely picked their way through the chaos of the office, and brushed scraps of paper and fur-fabric (for touch-and-feel books) from chairs before sitting down at a table that is slightly sticky with glue.
For the past day or so, too, I have finally been getting down to working on the slides for the first Tools of Change Conference to happen in Bologna, at which I am – eek! – the first keynote speaker on Sunday.
And yesterday, as if we didn’t have enough to do, we bought (or at least confirmed the deals on) three picture book texts, illustrations for two picture books and a debut novel.
Yesterday, Kate met up with Neal Hoskins (pictured) of Winged Chariot in the Crow’s Nest to talk about the opportunities for collaboration amongst apps publishers, and, specifically, children’s apps publishers. For all of us involved in apps publishing, the challenge is how people – parents in our case – find good apps among the ever-growing sea of apps on the store.
They also talked about the Bologna Tools of Change Conference 2011, which Neal is heavily involved in, and at which Kate will be a keynote speaker.
Then Kate and Imogen left for the Bounce Marketing sales conference for April to August titles in Islington, wrapping fizzy wine in the back of the car to give to the Bounce reps so they could drink to Nosy Crow’s first book (Small Blue Thing) being published on 13 January 2011. Kate presented to an enthusiastic audience of 18, and it was great to see how many of the reps had already read many of the titles: Bizzy Bear and Pip and Posy were being enthusiastically read by one sales manager’s two year-old. The six year-old “reluctant artist” son of one of the reps had loved completing his first Mega Mash-up book. And one of the reps told everyone how much she’d LOVEDOlivia’s First Term.
After a meeting at the Publisher’s Association about World Book Day 2012 (which’ll be the subject of another post), Kate met up with Imogen and Kirsty at Bounce’s Christmas Party, and Kirsty and Kate had to be asked to leave as the pub was closing. A fine time was had by all.
Having been away from frontline publishing for a few years, Camilla found it reassuring that in some ways not much has changed at Bologna. The stands are still in the same halls and in the same spots as they’ve always been and many of the same figures still stalk the aisles, guard the front desks and then – off-duty and more lubricated – mingle, gossip and flirt at the pink bar.
But in terms of Camilla’s personal experience of the fair, 2010 could not have been more different from the years before. Previously she’d been there with big companies and part of a great big gang of sales people, editors and designers. On a big, smart stand, with shelves of books and artworked panels, she’d felt established, confident, invincible. But as the two Nosy Crows lugged their rucksacks of handmade, homemade dummies, proofs, and catalogues past the big corporate stands that first Tuesday morning to a single, tiny table on the PA stand, Camilla found herself identifying with the snail from The Snail and the Whale. She felt very, very small.
But the crows unpacked their books, opened their folders and started their meetings. Sometimes they shared meetings and Camilla enjoyed watching Kate get back into her sales stride. Sometimes Camilla had a crack at selling herself, a new experience. It wasn’t as easy as Kate made it look, that was for sure, but having worked on every project on the list and feeling passionately committed to each of them, she did find it easy to be enthusiastic about them.
By the end of the first day, it was clear that she needn’t have worried: Nosy Crow was attracting lots of attention, both from old contacts and new.
Over the course of the week most of the big guns of the major international publishers had come a-callin’, and some were sending their colleagues back for a second look at the list. What Camilla hadn’t anticipated was the number of well-wishers, mostly people who we have worked with before, but also new friends, who dropped in just to cheer us on.
Meetings with agents, illustrators and freelancers were squeezed in between sales meetings: it was good to re-establish connections and make new ones. Camilla spotted several illustrators she’d like to bring to the list, and now, post-Bologna, the texts and images are flooding in, so hopefully we’ll be able to make some pairings shortly.
All in all, it was a great fair. Roll on, Frankfurt!
We are sorry. We haven’t posted since last Sunday, and we apologise to those of you – and we know you exist and we love you! – who’ve been coming to the site every day for our daily Nosy News. We’ve been at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair since Monday and have had no time at all to post, though Kate’s tweeted a bit.
The picture of Kate and Camilla on the stand with an author was taken by lovely Liz Thomson from Book Brunch.
Kate has her schedule to hand and sees that she had over 50 appointments in three-and-a-half days just counting the ones which she spent showing non-UK publishers and a couple of UK retailers the material on Nosy Crow’s books for 2011. Camilla had a full schedule too. Given that, as some of you know, we initially planned to come to Bologna just to have a few chats with old friends, this wasn’t bad going.
Of course, because we’d been launched for exactly four weeks when the fair began, we didn’t have a huge amount of material – though Imogen did manage to pull together bound proofs of Small Blue Thing which went like hot cakes. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response to all that we had to show, though. Several key people came back to the stand, some with colleagues, to look again at things that particularly interested them. Kate got five requests to come to visit publishers/groups of publishers to talk through the programme over the next few months. There wasn’t a single project on which we don’t have a lot of interest to folllow up, and we’re really grateful to the authors, illustrators and other creative people we’ve been working with over the past weeks for all their hard work as it meant we could make a really strong debut.
People were really compelled by the concept and storyline of Small Blue Thing, for which Kate’s shorthand pitch was, “Twilight in London but with memories instead of blood”.
They responded really well to the “mash up” element of Mega Mash-Up, and doodle books were doing well in many markets so the idea of doodle novels was really popular. As has happened to Kate before, Alan Boyko of Scholastic Book Fairs USA made a brilliant observation that will improve the books as we develop them: thank you, Alan! This is one of the excellent by-products of selling to really good people: their comments really help you to refine the books. Here’s how Book Brunch reported on the books.
Benji Davies’s Bizzy Bear character was tremendously popular – accessible and cute but still distinctive and classy – and people responded well to the very simple and well-thought-through mechanisms.
The idea of being able to tell the story of life on earth from blobs to us in 32 pages in Evolution went down very well, and there was real interest in narrative non-fiction for young readers. This is the book that’s furthest off in terms of scheduling for us (we plan to publish in September 2011, while the rest of the books we were talking about are for the first half of next year), and we’ve yet to confirm an illustrator for it, so it will have it’s first real outing at Frankfurt.
Like us, others recognised Penny Dale’s spectacular brilliance in combining dinosaurs and diggers in Dinosaur Dig. As one interested publisher said, “It’s got dinosaurs, it’s got diggers, it’s got counting, it’s got a story. It’s even got suspense!” Here’s how Book Brunch reported the acquisition
We could sell Pip and Posy many times over in every major market. Axel’s work is known and loved in so many countries, but people also really liked the idea of reflecting the realities of toddler life, including the bits that make toddlers cry. And here’s how The Bookseller reported the acquisition.
We were on the Publisher’s Association stand with other independent publishers who were exceptionally friendly, though we’re not sure we were the best of neighbours as we were both noisy and messy. Gloria and Helen from the PA looked after us brilliantly.
Both off the stand and on the stand, we met authors, illustrators, agents and journalists as well as non-Uk publishers, and there’s a handful of really interesting ideas for us to follow up as possible additions to the list.
Book Brunch gave Nosy Crow a mention in its Bologna Book Fair round up, and did a great write up of this year’s Bologna party of parties: Scholastic’s 90th birthday.
As we were flat-out, we can’t really say that we spent much time taking the temperature of the fair, but we think that the general view was that it was pretty lively and buzzy. UK and German children’s books markets at least did well last year, and people seemed open to buy. A lot of people were talking about US fantasy The Emerald Atlas, which Nosy Crow saw, but decided not to bid on, and which Writer’s House had done a very good job of hyping up before the fair. It went to Random House in the US and Germany and HarperCollins in the UK.
Here are a few photos that we took – we’ll remember to take more next time.
So hurray for Quentin!! And, of course, hooray for all the rest of the UK’s great illustrators. Of course, we don’t pretend that the survey was terribly scientific: the result’s based what 40 of you said. Thanks very, very much to those of you who participated.
Wish us luck in Bologna! We are excited as very, very excited people about being back there and seeing so many friends and books. We also look forward to loads of pasta; prosecco at 2.00 am in the Pink Bar; looking at Furla bags (but not being able to afford them); and buying top agent Ed Victor mortadella (it’s a long story…) on the last day.
There’s a classic Arthur Ransome book called We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea, and We Didn’t Mean To Go To Bologna… but Kate and Camilla are going anyway. Plan A was to go to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair properly when we had books – so in 2011 – but we had so many requests for appointments that we couldn’t keep up any semblance of professionalism without at least a table, so Imogen got us one on the joint PA stand in Hall 25, because that’s just the kind of thing she can do.
Kate spent all of the weekend and all of today getting our first novel, Small Blue Thing ready to go the to printers, so we have proofs for Bologna. But it’s done! We hope those of you who will read it like it as much as we do. It’s such a great blend of all that’s best in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Rough Guide to London and Twilight, with more on top.
Anyway, Kate can’t possibly do another post about editing (though there’s a whole domestic riff about boiler failure that might perk things up a bit), because she’s only just done one, so… just do the Who’s your favourite illustrator survey
Camilla made our arrangements for Bologna. Kate in particular is really looking forward to being back there. She’s been to every fair for the past 23 years, except last year and a childbirth-related absence in 1999. We’re looking forward to catching up with many friends.