Highlights from the Frankfurt Book Fair

American digital theorist and author Jaron Lanier before being awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Assn.
(Daniel Roland / AFP / Getty Images)

The world’s largest publishing conference, Germany’s Frankfurt Book Fair, concluded Sunday. It’s the place for big international book deals, and also serves as a measure for the health of the industry. And things, according to reports of those who were there, seem pretty cheery.

Here are some highlights from the eyewitnesses:

Accolades: American writer Jaron Lanier was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Assn. Lanier, a digital pioneer and theorist, is the author of “Who Owns the Future” and “You Are Not a Gadget.”

Enormous bucks: Random House won a bidding war with a rumored $2-million, three-book deal for newcomer Emma Cline, a 25-year-old American who grew up in California. Her debut novel, “The Girls,” is based on women in a Manson family-type cult.


Big bucks: Another deal rumored to be in the seven figures was for “The Longings of Jende Jonga,” a novel by Imbolo Mbue. Random House, again, went big for a debut, this time from Cameroonian Mbue, a 33-year-old who moved to New York in 1998. Her novel is about an immigrant family that is hired by a Lehman Brothers exec shortly before the 2008 recession.

And more big bucks: A nonfiction book from MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Angela Duckworth also garnered seven figures, according to Publishers Weekly. Scribner will publish Duckworth’s “Grit: Passion, Perseverance and the Science of Success.”

El Buzz: One of the talked-about books at the fair is the Spanish novel “También Esto Pasará” (“This Too Shall Pass”) by Milena Busquets. The story is about a woman who decamps to a beach house after her mother’s death — with her kids, both ex-husbands and her lover.

Amazon makes a play: Amazon in Germany announced a flat-rate plan for access to e-book titles. Amazon currently has 50%-70% of Germany’s e-book market, which is about 16% of book sales in the country overall.

Paulo Coelho says “don’t be greedy.” Coelho, whose bestselling New Age novel “The Alchemist” holds the world record for being translated into the most (67) languages, called upon publishers to lower e-book prices to increase sales; it’s worked for him.

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