French Week: New Rights and Networking Meetings Set for May

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A series of virtual rights meetings and presentations featuring some 75 French publishers, BIEF’s French Week is set for May 17 to 28.

A shot made in Paris on May 28, 2020, during one of several easings of early COVID-19 spread-mitigation measures in France. Image:

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

Included: Five Days of Sector-Specific Analysis
The latest of the digital publishing rights events to be announced for this challenging season is French Week, running May 17 to 28. And of particular interest, on May 17 to 21, there will be a daily video on French book market trends for international publishers—who are urged to participate without charge. Registration is here.

The program in French and English is being produced by BIEF, the Bureau International de L’Édition Français—the international outreach organization for France’s publishers that’s quite familiar to our Publishing Perspectives readers for its large, busy, comfortable stands at many of the world’s trade shows and book fairs, always a hub of rights trading and networking.

At the heart of the French Week program will be one-on-one meetings arranged through “a very easy-to-use scheduling tool.” The goal with these meetings “is in particular that the French can interact with publishers they haven’t seen regularly for a year, and can also discover new houses.” Meetings will be available from May 17 to 28, and the category-themed video presentations will be aired on May 17 to 21.

Each meeting is to last 25 minutes, and there’s to be a five-minute break between meetings.

And those video features, being shot in bookstores with booksellers and publishers speaking to participants in French Week, will offer information on editorial trends, special features of the market, and more, with English subtitles for international participants.

French publishers will be highlighting titles in digital catalogues, and those catalogues will be shared in advance with international publishers.

Nicolas Roche: ‘The Second Most Translated Language’

Nicolas Roche, BIEF’s managing director, tells us on World Book Day today (April 23) that “with the closure of bookstores and economic uncertainties, many publishers have postponed the publication of translated titles.

Nicolas Roche

“And they’ve bought fewer rights. This is not only because of the cancellation of the fairs, even though this has obviously had a very negative impact. What was this impact? It’s actually quite difficult to say,” he says. “It’s very heterogeneous.

“Some companies have experienced very significant decreases in the transfer of rights, up to 50 percent, while others–and in particular publishing companies with a very large catalogue of titles–have sometimes suffered less. If 2020 is not the ‘annus horribilis’ that we might have feared, it will not remain in our memories.

“Nevertheless, French remains by far the second most translated language in the world.”

And as the discussion goes on in the trade about how effective digital rights and networking events have been, Roche has an interesting point about how frequently such events emphasize publishers’ and rights directors’ usual colleagues. One of the big factors many rights professionals say they miss in physical trade show settings is the ability to meet new colleagues and discover unexpected business on a show floor or in a trading center.

“French rights managers, like their colleagues around the world,” Roche says, “are spending their time on Zoom or Teams. But mostly with their regular partners. Because we have all experienced it, it’s more difficult to use these digital tools to widen prospects or discuss potential business with publishers that we see very irregularly.

“Some French companies have experienced very significant decreases in the transfer of rights, up to 50 percent, while others have sometimes suffered less.”Nicolas Roche, BIEF

“One of the challenges of French Week is to give publishers from all over the world the opportunity to meet many French publishers–at least 75. We’ve sent information to foreign publishers. And the French Institute, especially via its book attachés around the world with whom we work closely all year long, has been a key partner in helping us spread the word.”

Not surprisingly, Roche emphasizes the fact that international publishers and rights professionals are invited to participate free of charge.

“They’ll not only have access to a meeting platform,” he says, “but they’ll also be able to discover our short subtitled videos giving them the latest information on publishing trends on the French market, sector by sector, with the precise analyses of publishers and booksellers. And finally, our digital catalogs will be made available before the event and give them the opportunity to discover selections of titles particularly interesting for translations.

“This is a first experience of this kind for BIEF,” Roche says, “but I think we’ve already won the bet to make French Week an event offering an easy-to-use online meeting solution and really interesting content for international publishers.”

The Emphasis Days of French Week

Here’s a breakdown of the focal points you can expect on the five days on which specified sectors will be given analytical emphasis with subtitled videos:

  • On May 17, fiction will be the key category, and the BIEF reports that fiction has been relatively stable during the onslaught of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, despite a considerable drop in the number of new titles released.
  • On May 18, nonfiction and the humanities are at the center of the action, a sector BIEF says has been acutely influenced in France by the public health emergency and related issues, as has occurred in so many world publishing markets.
  • On May 19, children’s books will be in focus, and BIEF reminds us that close to 30 percent of rights action in terms of French work translated into other languages lies in the children’s sector.
  • On May 20, graphic novels, a vibrant part of France’s literary life, takes center stage, a reminder that more than 25 percent of French titles translated into other languages are in comics. In 2020, BIEF says, this sector was up, not down, by 6 percent in value over 2019, and it represented some 18 percent of book sales in France.
  • And on May 21, self-help/do-it-yourself and illustrated books are accentuated, an area in which BIEF reports seeing a shift in trends in recent months.
Participating French Publishers

At this writing, some 75  houses in France have signed onto French Week, ready to set up meetings with international publishing professionals.

  • Actes Sud
  • Actes Sud Junior
  • The Citrus
  • Akinomé
  • Albin Michel
  • Alisio [Éditions Leduc]
  • Amaterra
  • Les Arènes
  • Au Diable Vauvert
  • Balivernes
  • Bamboo – Drakoo
  • Belin [Humensis]
  • Belles Balades
  • Calmann-Lévy [Hachette]
  • Charleston [Éditions Leduc]
  • Dada [Arola]
  • Éditions Delcourt [Groupe Delcourt]
  • Denoël [Madrigall]
  • Denoël Graphic [Madrigall]
  • Éditions des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
  • Éditions Diane de Selliers
  • Didier Jeunesse
  • Éditions Animées
  • L’école des loisirs
  • Éditions EHESS
  • The Élan vert
  • L’Étagère du bas
  • Éditions Eyrolles
  • Fayard [Hachette]
  • Fayard – Mazarine [Hachette]
  • First [Edi8]
  • Fleurus [Media-Participations]
  • French Publishers Agency
  • Gallimard [Madrigall]
  • Gallimard BD [Madrigall]
  • Gallimard jeunesse [Madrigall]
  • Gallimard Loisirs [Madrigall]
  • Glénat Éditions
  • Gründ [Edi8]
  • Gulf stream editor
  • Hachette Jeunesse
  • Hachette Tourisme [Hachette]
  • Hélium [Actes Sud]
  • Humanoids Inc.
  • Humensciences [Humensis]
  • Joyvox
  • Jungle [Groupe Steinkis]
  • Kero [Hachette]
  • Kilowatt
  • Éditions de La Martinière
  • Éditions de La Martinière Jeunesse
  • La poule qui pond
  • Larousse
  • Éditions Leduc
  • Éditions Liana Levi
  • Lucca Éditions
  • Mango [Media-Participations]
  • Éditions Marchialy [Groupe Delcourt]
  • Éditions Marie Claire
  • Mediatoon – Dargaud [Media-Participations]
  • Mediatoon – Dupuis [Media-Participations]
  • Mediatoon – Le Lombard [Media-Participations]
  • Mediatoon – Little Urban [Media-Participations]
  • Éditions MeMo
  • Mercure de France [Madrigall]
  • Mijade / North South
  • Nathan Jeunesse [Editis]
  • Éditions de L’Observatoire [Humensis]
  • Éditions du Patrimoine
  • Payot
  • Éditions Père Fouettard
  • Plume Blanche Éditions
  • Presses de Sciences Po
  • Presses Universitaires de France [Humensis]
  • Rivages
  • Éditions du Ricochet
  • Robert Laffont – Julliard [Editis]
  • Robert Laffont – NiL Éditions [Editis]
  • Rue de Sèvres
  • Rue du monde
  • Rustica [Media-Participations]
  • Sabine Wespieser editor
  • Sarbacane
  • Éditions Soleil [Groupe Delcourt]
  • Splash! [Groupe Steinkis]
  • Steinkis [Groupe Steinkis]
  • Stock [Hachette]
  • Talents Hauts
  • Tallandier
  • Éditions Thierry Magnier [Actes Sud]
  • Univers Poche – Fleuve Éditions, Pocket, Pocket Jeunesse [Editis]

Again, registration is available now here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the French market is here, more on BIEF is here, and more on publishing rights is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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