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“International fairs are part of the daily business”

Dr. Petra Hardt explains why the international book market is critically important for German publishers.

The international business is indispensable. Book publishers that want to be successful cannot avoid international licence trade. Petra Hardt is a firm believer in this rule. Over her many years at Suhrkamp, she has also been responsible for Foreign Rights. “The rights trade is the core business of the international book trade”, says the publishing manager. “International fairs are part of the daily business for people who work in this field.”

Attending the most important international fairs thus represents a key pillar of success. In this vein, Suhrkamp has long utilised the opportunities offered by Frankfurt Book Fair to participate in collective stands at various book fairs around the world. German publishers take advantage of this to present themselves together at a shared fair stand. “Tight cooperation with the Book Fair supports our success”, says Petra Hardt. Attending the international fairs makes it possible to get in touch with publishers from around the world. “We sell rights to other publishers, and they buy our rights”, says Hardt. “Every publisher wants to make their authors known around the world.”

Petra Hardt is very satisfied with the collective stands. “We’ve only had good experiences in our contact with Frankfurt Book Fair. The German collective stand is 100 percent worthwhile in my opinion”, says the rights dealer.

Known authors are well received

One difficulty lies in deciding which books to register for the stand. It’s crucial to select a good mix from the backlist and new publications. When it comes to non-fiction, it is important to find topics that are also of interest outside Germany. In the area of literature, it’s primarily the known authors who sell well – “and of course quality, too!”

What counts when you are actually there is the personal contact to foreign editors, and other exhibitors in the collective stand. This has turned the collective stand into a “home away from home” for Petra Hardt. It’s a place to meet people – and feel at home. It creates a collaborative bond among participants. “It feels like an exchange among partners. We are all each other’s advocates”, summarises Petra Hardt.