London Book Fair: 30,000 Visitors, Many Rights Deals

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

In 2023, the London Book Fair reports more than 30,000 visitors and a long list of rights deals, which were reported to fair organizers.

At London Book Fair’s 2023 International Rights Centre on April 20. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Rapley: ‘Growing This Momentum’
In media messaging from London Book Fair today (April 21), organizers of the trade show say they counted an aggregate attendance of more than 30,000 people over the show’s Tuesday-to-Thursday run this week.

In a prepared statement, the show’s director, Gareth Rapley—now having finished on Thursday his first show in the role—says that the industry-facing events numbers return London Book Fair “to pre-COVID-19 levels, which is such a vote of confidence in the  event and a testament to the special place it holds in the publishing calendar.

Gareth Rapley

“As my first London Book Fair, it’s been a fantastic experience and I look forward to growing this momentum in future years and solidifying London Book Fair as the spring’s biggest book and publishing event for the whole industry.”

Because many measure the success of a publishing trade show by the level of publication-rights deals reported to have been inked, a list of “six-figure deals and celebrity biographies” communicated by the fair will be of interest to many of our readers.

Glad to be provided with a list of deals the fair is reporting from its International Rights Centre for the week, we’ll give you a look at those now for the weekend and then return with some more specific looks at the fair in coming editions of Publishing Perspectives.

The International Rights Centre at London Book Fair was in its 33rd year this time around, and had at least 500 tables sold. Once more, it was on ground floor at Olympia, providing everyone moving around the exhibition space a chance to witness the pace and hubbub going on.

We follow here with a look at rights deals in adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and children’s books reported to LBF organizers, who emphasize that rights trading is so central that the fair describes itself now as a “global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, television, film, and digital channels.”

The hottest ticket at London Book Fair 2023: The often-teeming entrance to the International Rights Centre. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

Adult Fiction Rights Deals
  • Hodder & Stoughton has acquired two thrillers by Sarah Hornsley, described by a literary agent at PFD as a deal made in for a “significant six-figure deal,” in a “whirlwind, 48-hour pre-empt.”
  • Quercus has signed four books by bestselling author Elly Griffiths, including two mysteries in a new series.
  • Cathy Kelly goes back to HarperFiction in a three-book deal negotiated by Lynne Drew, publisher for general fiction, with Jonathan Lloyd at Curtis Brown, for UK and Commonwealth rights. Sisterhood, the first book, will publish in February in the UK, Ireland, and Australia.
  • Phoenix has acquired Kate Kemp’s first novel in a seven-way auction, The Secrets of Warrah, about a crime that rocks a quiet and claustrophobic cul-de-sac in 1970s Canberra.
  • How it Works Out, a debut novel by Myriam Lacroix, has gone to Jonathan Cape in a six-way auction.
  • HQ has acquired the first two adult novels, including first book I Love You, I Love You, from children’s author Laura Dockrill.
  • Working Title has secured a six-against/seven-figure deal for People Hacker by Jenny Radcliffe (Simon & Schuster UK).
  • Serpent’s Tail has added three debut novels, acquiring world all-language rights to Night Swimmers by Roisin Maguire; world English-language rights to Wild Ground by Emily Usher as part of a two-novel deal from Millie Hoskins at United Agents; and UK and Commonwealth rights to No Small Thing by Orlaine McDonald from Kirsty McLachlan at Morgan Green Creatives.
  • Canongate has acquired a collection of short stories by International Booker Prize winner Lydia Davis,and the book will be blocked from sale through Amazon–a first for the UK market–at the author’s request. Our Strangers will be made available for sale in physical bookshops, via and other selected online independent retailers.
  • Atlantic Books has acquired Kerry Andrew’s We Are Together Because, said to be about “siblings, sex and the end of the world.”
  • Fourth Estate has signed Teddy by debut novelist Emily Dunlay in a “significant” two-book deal.
  • Oneworld has acquired an “AI-inspired” adult debut from the author of the Mr Gum series (illustrated by David Tazzyman), Andy Stanton, titled Benny the Blue Whale: A ChatGPT Fantasy in Chaos.
  • HarperFiction acquired two more books by Abigail Dean, author of crime debut Girl A.
  • Sphere has acquired a two-book deal with Sarah Pearse, the first untitled book to be the third standalone in the Detective Elin Warner series and the second to be her first standalone.
Adult Nonfiction Rights Deals
  • Hutchinson Heinemann succeeded over 10 other publishers in acquiring two nonfiction books by historian and Warrior of Rome series novelist Harry Sidebottom, including Those Who Are About to Die and one as-yet-untitled.
  • Bluebird is to publish How to Raise a Healthy Gamer, a “definitive” guide to parenting healthy gamers by Alok Kanojia, a doctor who streams advice on the gaming platform Twitch.
  • Bluebird has also come out with The Greatest Manifestation Journal by married couple Vex King and Kaushal Modha.
  • Laurence King has an illustrated biography of performance artist Marina Ambramovic by fellow artist and author Katya Tylevich. Managing editor Laurence King acquired world rights to Marina Abramovic: A Visual Biography from Rory Scarfe at The Blair Partnership.
  • DK has acquired Have You Eaten? Deliciously Simple Asian Cooking for Every Mood, content creator and influencer Verna Gao’s debut cookbook in a five-way auction.
  • Lani’s Watson’s first trade book, Q: The Hidden Power of Questions in a World That Wants Answers was won by Bodley Head in seven-way auction.
  • Hamish Hamilton acquired Shattered, Hanif Kureishi’s memoir chronicling an accident in Rome that left him paralyzed last year.
  • Penguin Michael Joseph signed a two-book deal with TikTok favorite and psychologist, Julie Smith, following her nonfiction hit last year.
Children’s Books Rights Deals
  • Puffin has acquired three books in a youth fiction series, Aniyah and the Dragon, as well as two picture books, from Dapo Adeola—this year’s Illustrator of the Fair—in a six-figure deal.
  • Hot Key Books acquired a YA duology, I Feed Her To The Beast and The Beast Is Me, exploring the cutthroat world of Parisian ballet, and I Am the Dark That Answers When You Call from debut author Jamison Shea.
  • Piccadilly Press has acquired Agent 9, a graphic novel series by film and television show animator and author James Burks.
  • HarperVoyager has acquired Faebound, the first book in a new fantasy trilogy by author Saara El-Arifi.
  • Walker Books has won two dark academic thrillers from Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-shortlisted Rachael Davis-Featherstone in a five-way auction, for a six-figure deal.

All deal notices are provided by the administration of London Book Fair and cannot be independently verified.

 More on London Book Fair, which ran through Thursday (April 20) is here. More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more from us on international rights trading 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 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 was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.