Indian publishers going to the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct 12-16) are not as gung-ho as in previous years. They blame the recession in the world market for not being able to sign those book deals of the past, where debut novels sold for six-figure sums (dollars, not rupees). But judging by the pre-Frankfurt buzz, the six-figure deals are still on; it’s just Indian books that aren’t doing well. Not even one is creating the right buzz. This may have more to do with the changing reading tastes of English language readers worldwide than with a publishing slump.
Thrillers and young adult fiction is the flavour of the season, judging by the pre-Frankfurt big book deals last week. Two of the novelists creating a big buzz are Americans in their 20s: Roger Hobbs, whose debut novel, The Ghostman (about a mysterious, wildly skilled robber who has the chance to make a killing or be killed), is making waves. Hobbs’s novel has sold for six-figure advances in Germany and Italy, and soon in the UK. The other is a blogger, Shannon Messenger, whose fantasy novel, Keeper of the Lost Cities, about a 12-year-old social outcast who can read minds, has been pre-empted in North America in a six-figure three-book deal.
Publishers worldwide on the lookout for another Stieg Larsson are betting on Belgian Pieter Aspe. His 26 Inspector van In books have sold over two million copies in Europe; the English world rights to the first two have been sold. In contrast, state-sponsored Indian Literature Abroad hopes to sell translations at the Fair by showcasing language writers like Tagore and Mahashweta Devi!
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