International Rights Roundup: Surfacing After Bologna

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Today’s Rights Roundup includes news of rights available for work originally published in Sweden, Québec, Italy, France, and Norway.

The Attack of the Giant Jellyfish on the Bologna Trading Center. Actually, that’s part of the serene and yet vibrant visual identity created by Portuguese illustrator Inês Oliveira for the 2024 fair. She clearly knows the sovereignty of the seas when it comes to crowd-soothing imagery: a nautical blessing and a boon to the Bologna restaurants serving seafood, for which we were all incredibly hungry every night. Image: BCBF

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

Bologna’s Comics Corner Logged Some 800 Meetings
To our knowledge, there’s no other book publishing trade show in the international business that offers not one, not two, but three publication-rights trading centers.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair closed on April 11 with its regular rights trading center focused on young people’s content, part of the core show directed by Elena Pasoli.

The new more generalist trading opportunities provided by Bologna Book Plus, directed by Jacks Thomas provided trading opportunities not limited to those kids and older kids.

And the all-new Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids staged its trading center for film and television rights for the first time to a very welcome reception, by all reports. (See our story today on Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed.)

One of the first statistics to come out was that the new film and television rights center had more than 300 meetings reserved by publishers and producers.

And we’ve learned that the central rights center registered a total of 203 professionals, although in that center’s case, there isn’t a total number of meetings available.

But the biggest number regarding such rights activity? That one comes from Bologna’s Comics Corner, where some 70 exhibitors reported roughly 800 meetings.

In the Rights Trading Center at Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: BCBF

Portuguese illustrator Inês Oliveira’s shimmering sea-creatures visual identity for the fair this year kept everyone cool during the unusually hot opening days of the fair’s busiest traffic with its 31,735 trade visitors. BolognaFiere is a big complex. When it feels cramped, you know the place is busy. Its 31,735-trade-visitor figure isn’t far behind the 33,000+ that London Book Fair (now with another change in directors) reports it drew in March.

Today in our Rights Roundup, we return to our usual mix of young readers’ and adult deals, thanks to the faithful reporting of more than 165 literary agents, scouts, and rights directors.

We hope to hear from you in coming weeks about your experiences in the halls of London, Bologna, and the many more rights-trading centers to come this year. And our thanks to Claudia Tanzi and Lisa Oldani at Bologna for their help all week in imagery, information, and bottles of cool, clear water.

In the Rights Trading Center at Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: BCBF

As in each roundup, we use some of the sales copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone, but limiting the promotional elements. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.


Ouvrir grand ses oreilles
(Open Your Ears)

By Céline Claire
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance

  • Publisher: Les 400 coups, Montreal
  • Rights contact: Simon de Jocas, Les 400 coups
  • Book info: Read more here (PDF)

Reported rights sales:

  • World English: Secret Mountain

Céline Claire, left, and Marie Laforce

“Firmin is waiting for his brother’s visit. Every time he hears a vehicle approaching in the distance—train, car, or boat—he goes to greet his visitor.

“However, Firmin never finds his brother but instead encounters other people in need whom he helps by inviting them to his home.

“At nightfall, Firmin believes that his brother will not come anymore until he hears a sound that no one else hears. Firmin and his guests will then have to join forces to help this long-awaited big brother.

“With Open Your Ears Céline Claire offers a positive and strong character suffering from blindness. The reader discovers this reality only at the end of the book.”


Storia dei miei soldi
(History of My Money)

By Melissa Panarello

  • Publisher: Bompiani, Milan
  • Rights contact: LeeAnn Bortolussi, Giunti Editore
  • Book info: Read more here

No reported rights sales.

Storia dei miei soldi, released in February, has been nominated this month for the 78th Premio Strega dozzina, the list of 12, selected by a proposed 82 titles.

Melissa Panarello

“It begins with the meeting of the narrator—Melissa, a writer—and the actress Clara, who played Melissa on the screen. The strongly erotic theme of the novel and film transformed both women’s lives.

“After a chance meeting, Clara tells Melissa about her journey from cinema star to desperate woman: Melissa understands that making Clara’s story known will help, but it also forces the author to consider her own past.

“A tenuous reality in which the boundary between fiction and non-fiction is elusive.

“After having dared to put her female desire at the center of her pages, Melissa Panarello writes her most authentic and intense novel which aims to investigate another great taboo: that of money in the hands of a woman. The figure of Clara T. stands out in these pages like an ancient divinity devoured by her own lover, and with a firm voice she talks about the burns that success and wealth leave on the skin of those who go through them; the traps that youth sets for those who are more fragile; the privilege and damnation of talent.”


Top Bro

By Jenny Jägerfeld

  • Publisher: Rabén & Sjögren, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Jenni Brunn at the Grand Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – North American rights: Arctis US
  • Denmark: Gyldendal
  • Finland: Otava
  • Germany: Urachhaus
  • Italy: Iperborea
  • Norway: Gyldendal

Jenny Jägerfeld

Top Bro is about 11-year-old Måns who is like any other boy, except that he was born with a vagina. His mum accepts that she now has a son, but his dad has a harder time.

“During a hot summer in Malmö, Måns meets a new best friend, a friend who calls him “bro”—and everything is put on its head. Mikkel challenges Måns on skateboard, and Måns succeeds much better than Mikkel had expected. From that day they begin to hang out and Måns has never had so much fun with someone else.

“The summer in Malmö seems to be the best in Måns’ 11-year old life. But what happens when your newfound friend does not think that you have been honest with everything?

“An emotional, poignant look at knowing who you are, but struggling with knowing how you’ll be accepted for being your true self.”


The Double Room

By Anne Sénès

  • Publisher: Le bruit du monde, Marseille
  • Rights contact: Anna Soler- Pont, Pontas Literary & Film Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • World English: Orenda Books

Anne Sénès

“Stan, a promising and young French composer living in London, must rebuild his life and rediscover music after his beloved Liv is killed in a fatal accident.

“Stan eventually returns to France surrounded by darkness. He now shares his life with Babette, a lifeguard, and Laïvely, a machine of his own invention endowed with Liv’s voice.

“But Stan remains haunted by his past and as false notes and discord increase, and as memories and reality blur, the family implodes.”


Cloudberry Mire

By Ulrika Lagerlöf

  • Publisher: Romanus & Selling, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Lena Stjernström, Grand Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Country: Publisher
  • Denmark: Alpha
  • Finland: Otava
  • France: tba
  • Germany: Gutkind
  • Italy: Corbaccio
  • Norway: Aschehoug
  • Sweden: Romanus & Selling

Ulrika Lagerlöf

“A love story set in the magnificent forests of Sweden, this is a book that lifts forgotten female heroes and climate issues spanning over generations.

“In 1938, Siv is sent to work as a cook in a forest cabin with 10 men. It’s an experience in which both liberation and love await. In 2022, Eva travels to Djupsele to quell wild protests against deforestation.

“She must confront the media, environmental activists, and the Sami village. In the wake of the conflict, she also finds clues to her own family history.”


101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up

By Nils Petter Mørland and Mikkel Niva
Illustrated by Fredrik Edén

  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Ingvild Haugland Blatt, Cappelen Damm Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Poland: Znak Emotikon

Nils Petter Mørland and Mikkel Niva

“You have to learn lots of weird things before you become a grownup: reading, writing, putting your hand up in class, brushing your teeth, saying ‘Yes, please’ and ‘No, thank you.’

“But you’ll learn absolutely none of that in this book.

“This book is about all the funny, crazy, exciting, wonderful, and magical things you can do in childhood that grownups don’t often get to do.

Illustrator Fredrik Edén, right

“Suggested activities include: Talking in rhyme; living backward for a day; going on holiday at home; swapping families.”

Nils Petter Mørland is an actor and improviser, and is the director of Brageteateret.

“Readers are guided through short texts and colorful illustrations. This book is intended to encourage children “to hold onto the unique aspects of childhood that also, oddly enough, help make us better, cooler, and more creative grownups later in life.”


From Inês Oliveria’s visual identity for the 2024 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: BCBF

Submitting Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and publishing-house rights directors can use our rights deal submission form to send us the information we need. If you have questions, please send them to Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com

We look forward to hearing from you.


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.com, 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.