27 Oct #2SeasEuroTour Fall 2015 Part 3
Paris: pre-Frankfurt apéritifs and dinners
By Marleen Seegers – first posted in October 2015.
From September 14 – October 18 2015, I met with publishers, agents and scouts in Munich, Amsterdam, Paris and at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Dutch publishing magazine Boekblad asked me to write a weekly blog during this 5-week European publishing tour. Below article is based on my third blog that covered my stay in Paris.
Translated from the Dutch by Sara Palmbush.
Read the other articles about my #2SeasEuroTour Fall 2015: parts 1: Munich, 2: Amsterdam, 4: Frankfurt and 5: Back in California!
For me, a stay in Paris always means a reunion with many of my friends — before I moved to California I spent eight years living there. This means that in the two weeks I’ve devoted to the French capital I have a busy schedule ahead of me, both day and night.
One of my evening activities is Carpe Diem, an informal aperitif for those in the book trade that for some years has been organized by L’Autre agence, for whom 2 Seas Agency represents among others the Dutch translation rights. As always, I’ll be there, see familiar faces and more invitations will follow. This is how, a week later, I find myself at a dinner with Raphaëlle Liebaert (Autrement) and her Dutch husband Christiaan van Raaijen (Grasset). It is an international group, including Nicole Bond (Grand Central), Anna Geller (The Book Group) and Mark Kessler (Susanna Lea Associates). A nice taste of what awaits me in Frankfurt!
The Parisian equivalent of Amsterdam’s Café Luxembourg is Café Les Editeurs located in the central Place de l’Odéon. There I meet with the French scouts (for French titles in our catalog) and a number of publishers who are not based in Paris, like Philippe Noble, who buys Dutch literature for Actes Sud. We have a good conversation, that unlike my other appointments, is not conducted in French but Dutch.
Just like in Amsterdam, I speak here to young founders of new publishing houses such as Mirobole Editions (based in Bordeaux) and Le Capital Humain (Orléans) that are enthusiastically focused on publishing translations. Despite these beautiful and promising initiatives the French book market is also under pressure. In recent years, bookstore chains Chapitre and Virgin have gone bankrupt. As I’ve seen elsewhere in the European publishing scene, French readers have less money to spend, and if they can already spend 20 euros on a book, they buy a bestseller. Midlist titles are increasingly ignored.Enjoying lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg on my last day in Paris, after having closed four pre-fair deals
According to Jean Mattern (Gallimard) things are going well with their foreign fiction (he immediately hands me a copy of Stefan Hertmans War and Turpentine, a book they have recently released), but they must ‘fight’ harder to achieve the same results as a couple years ago. Caroline Ast (Belfond), which has recently purchased Inge Schilperoord’s Muidhond (Podium), indicates that this year a turning point has arrived: good reviews now no longer automatically translate into good sales.
Nevertheless, my two-week stay in Paris ends on a positive note. Two days before my departure for Frankfurt I complete four deals, all for Dutch titles. Droemer-Knaur brings a lovely pre-empt for the German rights to Maaike Sips’ Monica, My Father (Podium) and the Estonian publisher Eesti Raamat buys, as the 22nd country to do so, the rights to Attempts to Make Something of Life by Hendrik Groen (Meulenhoff). In view of the Netherlands’ guest country status at the upcoming Bogotá Book Fair in Colombia, Panamericana Editorial bought Spanish rights to Esther Gerritsen’s Roxy (De Geus) and Arango Editorial bought rights to Jeroen Thijssen’s, Solitude (New Amsterdam).