What brings us together?
Posted on 03/07/2020 in
Summer is here, the sun is mostly shining and the holidays are around the corner. We are leaving behind a hectic period which has seen us setting up our homes offices and finding new routines in our communications with colleagues and with our foreign partners. The turmoil has encouraged us to think about our job in new ways. A real crash course in digital meetings with a little extra technical challenge for us selling rights to illustrated books!
The cancellation of the Bologna Book Fair has really been the catalyst that has led us to think in a different way. Our overall feeling is that nothing can replace the face-to-face meetings and the joys of being able to present a printed copy of a brilliant new picture book or novel to our colleagues from all around the world. At fairs, we have the pleasure of welcoming several dozen foreign publishers at our stand to introduce them to our new list of titles, chat about the book industry, the trends, the markets… So much invaluable information, that allows us to be even more effective when we come back to our desks in Sweden. But the fair and the fun are not over when we leave our stands at the end of the day. No book fair in Bologna would be complete without the lively strolls in the town in the evening, the long italian pasta dinners, the exciting conversations with editors and colleagues… The magic can definitely happen in these informal settings, around a glass of chilled prosecco. A pitch, a story can strike a chord there and then and this will result in a sale. Happy moments that make all our efforts worth it!
I recently read an article on the Economist which stated “One of the great thrills of reading is encountering a situation that is familiar in feeling yet alien in context.” I could really relate to this statement, it rang true and for us selling foreign rights, it is very relevant. The emotions are universal, we as readers vibrate with characters whose emotions and internal struggles we recognize and can identify with, but each story is unique in its cultural setting, dramaturgy, set of characters… It feels like for younger readers, the exposure to other cultures is more important than ever in these unstable times. Reading can bring an understanding of what makes us so unique, but also, and that really is the power of literature, of what brings us all together. The pleasure of placing a good book abroad, finding a good publisher that will champion it is real and can be a little step towards a more inclusive society.
Let’s take this with us this summer as we enjoy our mostly Swedish holidays and can dive into the stories of our favourite authors, foreign or local, or else find the time to enjoy enchanting new voices.
Bel été à tous !
Mathilde, agent for children’s books