International book rights are a sporting event, I’ve decided. Publishing people are not known for their physical prowess, but the boasting you hear about how many hours at a stretch, how many meetings in a single day, and feats like setting up a booth in 20 minutes after two delayed flights makes it clear that there’s physical competition involved. That’s before you get to the boasting about number of parties and the few hours of sleep.
The meeting schedule is the most intense–and crazy–thing. Every half an hour, from about 9-6, and it’s especially crazy here before the Frankfurt Fair is so huge. It takes 10-15 minutes to walk between halls (buildings, actually), and people don’t manage to schedule by the hall, either. I get frustrated because this means I can’t see as many people as I’d like, and because we’re in the international hall (8.0), English speaking, it’s easy to see people I already know but much harder to visit other countries’ sections.
Day 2 for us was a run of meetings with international reps and some of the library suppliers they go to. It was wonderful to have a chance to explain to these suppliers how Berkshire came to be. They are almost always familiar with some of our past titles, and I’m able to explain how David and I went from developing projects with Sage, Routledge, Macmillan and others to starting our own independent imprint. They appreciate our global focus, and I can see that 2007 and 2008 will be the time we really establish ourselves in the reference market–while at the same time launching several non-reference programs–and I’m relishing every minute of sleep, thinking about everything that’s ahead.
Liz described the shopping street of the town where we’re staying, 15 minutes from the center of Frankfurt, as feeling like Pearl Street in Boulder. I haven’t seen a thing of Frankfurt itself, except the walk over to the Marriott last night for the Chinese Publishing Delegation’s party. There was champagne and lots of good food, and we joked about cheese, which Chinese people are learning to like. It was at that party last night that I met Mr Huang, who will be signing the contract with me this afternoon. It’s been great having Liz with me; she has a chance to speak Chinese, and it really does improve our communication even with English-speaking Chinese colleagues. We’ve been able to get acquainted with people because of this, and I’m more convinced than ever that I am disadvantaged by not speaking Chinese.