Industry Notes: Toscanini Title in Frankfurt’s Film-Book-Game; Ravensburger & Sweek Contest

In News by Porter Anderson

A title coming to Frankfurt next week is based on a real incident in Toscanini’s life, and the Dutch reading-writing platform Sweek hands a book contract to a 16-year-old.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

At Frankfurt’s LitAg: The Tale of a Maestro

Filippo Iannarone

Last week, Publishing Perspectives had coverage of the upcoming second edition of “A Book Is a Film Is a Game” at Frankfurt Book Fair—set for October 12 at the Arts+ conference, Hall 4.2 P109. During the day, 10 books will be pitched to film and game producers.

We’ve heard from Fiammetta Biancatelli, founder of Rome’s Walkabout Literary Agency, with details about one of the 10 titles to be pitched, Il Complotto Toscanini (The Toscanini Conspiracy), a book by Filippo Iannarone. It turns out that this one may be especially interesting to music aficionados, as it’s based on an actual investigation made by the author’s uncle into a murder case that was, in the 1930s, connected to Arturo Toscanini, the great conductor and music director (La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, NBC Symphony).

Fiammetta Biancatelli

The murder victim, Alberto Rinaldi, had been working on treatment for rheumatism and arthritis. Toscanini, reportedly in 1931, had a bout of shoulder bursitis so severe that he could only conduct with his left hand. He was convinced that Rinaldi’s treatment restored the use of his right shoulder. and apparently had wanted to see Rinaldi emigrate to the United States to continue research there.

The book, Iannarone’s debut, is to be released in Italy on February 5 by Piemme Editions.

Biancatelli says she’s hoping to present it to as many rights buyers as possible at the Frankfurt LitAg, the Literary Agents and Scouts Center. Her table there will be 35L.

The author, Iannarone, actually lives in Germany, in Bad Honnef on the Rhine, and is a former attorney, business consultant, and entrepreneur.


From left are Sweek competition finalist Katja Hemkentokrax, winner Samira Bosshard, finalist Fenke Langer, and Ravensburger publisher Anuschka Albertz. Image: Provided by Sweek

Swiss Writer, 16, Wins Ravensburger Contract

A speaker in last year’s The Markets conference at Frankfurt Book Fair, Peter Paul van Bekkum, tells us that his Rotterdam-based Sweek has held a YA competition in which users chose most of the finalists. Sweek, described as a “social platform for free reading and writing on smartphones,” partnered with the German publisher Ravensburger Buchverlag on the #SchreibMitRavensburger contest. Bosshard was one of three finalists, her colleagues in the trio being Katja Hemkentokrax and Fenke Langer.

The winner has been identified as 16-year-old Samira Bosshard of Switzerland. Her book is titled The Shadow of a Fire and was chosen by a five-member jury of German publishing pros for the competition. Entries had to be at least 50,000 words long and were submitted, chapter by chapter, on the Sweek platform for readers to follow. You can read the winning Bosshard’s first chapter here.

In a prepared statement, Ravensburger publisher Anuschka Albertz is quoted, saying, “The creativity of the stories, the high level of interaction and the role of the community have positively surprised us: this is an excellent way to scout talent.”

And for Sweek, co-founder Sabine van der Plas is quoted, saying, “We were very happy that Ravensburger asked Sweek to co-organize their competition: this way we managed to discover young new rockstars of writing.”

And the company has provided the press with an update on its progress in its initial 11 months. Having launched in October 2016, Sweek’s administration says that the platform has had more than 200,000 users, publishing at least 50,000 stories. Not unlike the Wattpad model, the system is one in which readers and writers of stories interact with each other, and used its amplification functionality to widen participation in the competition.

As van der Plas puts it in her prepared comments, “All contests [there are more to come] are dynamic, both on Sweek and on social media. People tag their writer friends to let them know about the competition, users give writers feedback and readers are involved in the creation process before the story is even finished.”

Sweek is looking to parlay its online narratives into properties that other content corporations can develop: “Publishers looking to discover new talent are invited to partner with Sweek.”


Your membership in Frankfurt Book Fair’s Business Club includes a seat at The Markets, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on October 10. Here’s a look at the day’s program as a PDF.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.