22 Oct #2SeasEuroTour Fall 2015 Part 2
Amsterdam: Finally a Few Rays of Sunshine
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 second blog that covered my stay in Amsterdam.
Read the other articles about my #2SeasEuroTour Fall 2015: parts 1: Munich, 3: Paris, 4: Frankfurt and 5: Back in California!
Translated from the Dutch by Sara Palmbush.
After the relaxing start in Munich to my 5-week European tour, Amsterdam is now on the agenda. Although I haven’t ever lived in Amsterdam — I was born and raised in Maastricht, and studied at the University of Utrecht — I can now easily find my way here. It is, perhaps, the eighth time already that I’ve been here to visit publishers since I set up the agency in 2011 and, weather permitting, I’ll be going to my meetings the Dutch way, with my bike.
After mentioning in my first blog how well-prepared most German publishers were for my meetings, I am now met more often than usual by Dutch publishers who have a nicely printed set of our Fall Catalog on their desks. Thanks, Boekblad!
Besides the previously scheduled meetings, which fill my week, there was also space for some spontaneous meetings. I ran into the international scout Koukla MacLehose at Cafe Luxembourg and during my visit to Jacqueline Smit’s Boekalicious Store, Nelleke Geel, who I had seen and spoken to earlier at Meridiaan, stopped by.
In Munich, I mainly wanted to find out the trends that are playing a role right now in German publishing, however in Amsterdam the discussion wasn’t about what was selling well, but mainly over the question of whether or not book sales overall had managed to pick up after the disastrous last few years. Fortunately, people answered “yes” unanimously. There is obviously still a long way to go and it won’t be without challenges. Just like I had seen in Germany, in the Dutch bookstores I found mostly best sellers, and midlist titles had fallen by the wayside (with some exceptions).
Despite this trend, two new publishers have recently been set up that focus on (translated) literary titles. I spoke to Mara Joustra at Bananafish, whose motto is “oddly enough untranslated”. One of their first titles to appear is Alfred Jarry’s wonderful Deeds and Opinions of Doctor Faust Roll, Pata Physicist. Our agency has also just signed a deal with them for a title that appeared in the US in 2004 (The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight), but which – indeed strangely enough – had not yet been translated into Dutch. And, I also had a nice meeting with the team of Das Magazin, which, in addition to the magazine, will also publish books.
Both Das Magazin and Bananafish showed an interest in non-Anglo Saxon titles. That is music to my ears since, alongside American and English books, French, Brazilian, Catalan and French-Canadian titles are well represented in our catalog.
The Dutch book trade is finally seeing a few rays of sunshine. And, after many days of rain, I end my week with sun. So on my last day in Amsterdam I can cycle, delightfully, to my appointments.