Where once they just had to deal with a single publisher, authors are now being forced to embrace the digital age and negotiate the rights to their works for TV, films and ebooks.
Buying and selling of rights to literary works has soared by 30 percent in the last seven years, fair director Jürgen Boos said.
“Rights trading has become broader and has become a business with companies, with people, agents who we did not (even) know in recent years,” he told reporters.
“Suddenly there are lots of people with whom one has to talk,” he added, highlighting Cornelia Funke, one of Germany’s best-known children’s authors, whose book “Reckless” was written with a screenwriter on hand to adapt the work from the start.
“A book contract for us is ten pages at the most. In the film industry they are thousands of pages because everything must be covered,” Boos said of the practical challenges.
Gadgets such as the “enhanced ebook,” a mixture of the book, audio, video and game, and other multimedia products have taken the fair by storm in the last few years.
Now, organizers say, authors and publishers need to formulate business strategies with multimedia interest in mind.
“We talked a lot in recent years about the devices, the ebooks (electronic books), tablet PCs (tablet personal computers) and the Kindle (electronic book reader) …,” Boos said. “I think this theme is slowly becoming old news… what is on these devices
is really the focus.”
More than half of the events at the fair in the western German city will address digitization. Some 7,500 exhibitors from more than 110 countries are expected to attend.
Literature from Iceland, which experienced a dramatic economic collapse in 2008 and is now on the path to recovery, will be in the limelight as this year’s guest country.
A new translation into German of the Icelandic Sagas, perhaps the country’s best-known literary accomplishment, describing 10th and early 11th century events in Iceland, will be presented in Frankfurt.
Halldór Gudmundsson, head of the Icelandic delegation, highlighted the rich literary tradition of the country, whose population numbers about 318,000 and where its inhabitants buy an average of eight books a year.
“The German book market is very important for us,” he told reporters. “The Germans are very industrious translators.”
“Harry Potter” producer David Heyman and “The King’s Speech” producer Paul Brett, as well as Hollywood actor Rupert Everett will take part in a two-day forum on the future of the media industry.
And German Hollywood director Roland Emmerich will also present his new film “Anonymous,” about whether William Shakespeare actually wrote the works, and takes part in a discussion on the authorship debate.
Organizers expect exhibitors’ attendance for 2011 is at around the same level as last year, with 56 percent again coming from abroad.