In Prague, a Second Year for a Central European Rights Trading

In News by Eric Dupuy

More than 100 rights pros attended this year’s Central and East European Book Market, a networking and rights hub at Book World Prague.

Rights trading meetings at the 2024 Central Eastern European Book Market. Image: CEEBM

By Eric Dupuy | @duperico

A Second Year for Prague’s Market
In Prague, the second edition of the Central Eastern European Book Market (CEEBM) brought together nearly 100 rights managers for discussions.

For the second edition of the event,which was held in conjunction with Book World Prague on Thursday and Friday (May 23 and 24), the organizers had more than 60 agents and rights managers engaged from Finland to Portugal.

The largest contingent, a group of about 30, made the trip from Germany, which was the Prague program’s guest of honor. In addition to those from Germany, there was a delegation of German-language speakers from Switzerland and Austria.

Among those was León Schellhaas from the young Austrian publishing house ACHSE Verlag, an independent children’s book publisher based in Vienna.

ACHSE was founded in 2017 and has specialized in innovative children’s and picture books since 2020. The company is developing a European publishing project called “Creating Neighbourhood” to facilitate the translation of children’s books.

Ivan Fedechko, rights director of the Ukrainian publisher in Lviv, Old Lion, has made his first visit to the fair this time, a four-hour train ride from his office.

“Austria is surrounded by small countries,” he says, “that are very close to each other, with different languages. It’s necessary to create or strengthen links between publishers, and it’s a good thing that events like CEEBM are emerging.”

‘Building Bridges’

A round table discussion led by Frankfurt’s Niki Theron. Image: CEEBM

Prague’s new rights trade event comes at a time when literature from Eastern Europe, especially children’s content, is increasingly gaining international recognition, with awards at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, in particular.

“Until the early 2020s,” Fedechko says, this work wasn’t on his radar. “But since then, several titles have won awards,” he says, “which is creating new interest in the region’s work. ”

The book market program’s two days were punctuated by B2B exchanges at some 30 tables and in conferences. These included an interesting discussion titled Building Bridges: Exploring Intercultural Dialogue in Publishing. The exchange featured an agent based in Israel, a Slovenian publisher, and Leon Schellhaas of Germany.

Schellhaas reported on the German translation market, 60 percent of which he said is dominated by English titles, 10 percent by French titles and a further 10 percent by Japanese titles.

There’s still 20 percent of the market to be shared with other’s countries, he said, while Petra Kavčič from the Slovenian publishing house Beletrina spoke of the usefulness of continuing to develop festivals to promote authors from nearby Central European countries.

Finally, Stephanie Barrouillet, from S.B.Rights Agency, a Tel Aviv-based agent very familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers, praised the fellowship initiatives being created  in Prague and elsewhere.

“COVID showed that fairs are really important, even essential,” Barrouillet said. “Initiatives like fellowships, with their networking moments, are much more effective than hours of Internet research.

Annette Beger, a participant from the Swiss children’s publisher Kommode Verlag said, “This stay in Prague, which began with a convivial moment at the Goethe-Institut not far from the famous Charles Bridge, was a rich experience. When at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20) or London Book Fair, all I see is the appointments at my table, and I don’t have time to look elsewhere.

“Here, we have the luxury of taking the time to exchange ideas. This professional meeting on the sidelines of a mainstream literary event in Prague was one of the first wishes of Radovan Auer, the fair’s director since 2016.

Auer: ‘Support and Structures Centered Around Translators’

And Radovan Auer, the program’s director, said, “COVID postponed the organization of this book market, but thanks to the support of a financial partner and the invaluable help of the Frankfurt Buchmesse we were able to make it happen.

Auer pointed out that the region is studded with small countries with populations of around 10 million. “These countries have different languages,” he said, “but when it comes to literature, they also have similarities, particularly in terms of the need for support and structures centered around translators, who play a very important role.”

After inviting national centers from the Balkans, the former Yugoslavia, and the Baltic States to the first edition, this second edition successfully focused on more personal encounters.

For the next edition, the organizers say, they hope to extend the fellowship beyond Europe.

More from Publishing Perspectives on book fairs and trade events is here.

About the Author

Eric Dupuy

Eric Dupuy is a French journalist based in Paris. After more than 10 years as an economic and politics reporter for several news media including Agence France-Presse (AFP), Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), and Europe 1, he joined the team at Livres Hebdo in 2022 to follow the book industry in France and abroad.