Berrett-Koehler: A Translations Powerhouse


Posted by Berrett-Koehler Staff - 01 December, 2018

Berrett-Koehler in Beijing

In August, Catherine Lengronne, our associate director for subsidiary rights, attended the Beijing International Book Fair to find foreign publishers for BK books. This was Berrett-Koehler’s first time attending the fair in five years and only the third time in ten years. But we will now be attending the fair every year, along with the London, Frankfurt, and Guadalajara book fairs—and of course BookExpo America, the biggest US book conference, where translation rights are also sold.

The Beijing International Book Fair is huge. The eight halls total 97,700 square meters and host more than 2,500 publishers from around 93 countries. Catherine met with 29 different publishers, almost all from China. She got over 200 leads, and she’s already concluded five deals with Vietnamese publishers and two with Chinese publishers. Two of the more popular books were Henry Mintzberg’s Bedtime Stories for Managers and Susan Fowler’s Master Your Motivation

A Big Market

China is one of our most important overseas markets, where for the past 14 years we have been represented by Andrew Nurnberg Associates International. We’ve signed 380 Chinese translation deals, and our books have sold quite well there. For example, Bill Treasurer’s Courage Goes to Work sold 27,500 copies. And Frederick Gilbert’s Speaking Up sold 26,000 copies—more than it sold in the United States!

Catherine met with representatives from both state-run publishing houses and private publishing houses. One interesting aspect of the Chinese market is that the government makes only a fixed number of ISBNs available each year. These ISBNs go to the state-owned houses, which in turn sell them to the private houses. One reason the state restricts ISBNs is to maintain parity between Chinese and non-Chinese authors—only a certain number of ISBNs can go to translated works.

This makes for a challenging publishing environment, one we want to understand better. We already have relationships with many Chinese publishers that we want to strengthen, so Catherine will be back next year!

Berrett-Koehler in Frankfurt!

The first Frankfurt Book Fair was held way back in 1454, not long after the invention of the printing press (so it was basically a late medieval new media event). Held every year in October, it’s the world’s largest trade fair for books. This year there were 285,024 visitors to the fair and 7,503 exhibitors, of which Berrett-Koehler was one.

Selling Rights, Buying Rights

The Frankfurt Book Fair has always been our biggest venue for selling translation rights. Over the past few years we’ve sent our international team: María Jesús Aguiló, director of subsidiary rights; Catherine Lengronne, associate director for subsidiary rights; and Johanna Vondeling, vice president for international sales and business development. But this year we added Neal Maillet, our editorial director. In a kind of switcheroo, instead of trying to sell translation rights to our books, he was looking for books that we could translate into English. In fact, last year we picked up German author Jack Nasher’s book Convinced!, which we released in November 2018 at Frankfurt. Berrett-Koehler is truly committed to creating a world that works for all.

The team was incredibly busy. In all, María Jesús, Johanna, and Catherine had 122 meetings. They got 426 requests for more information on specific books from publishers all over the world. The leading titles were Bedtime Stories for Managers by Henry Mintzberg, and Master Your Motivationby Susan Fowler. Neal met with twenty-two different publishers from Germany, France, Spain, England, Australia, Japan. 

It’s always a pleasure to get in touch with the larger world of publishing and to make new connections and strengthen old ones. We’re very much looking forward to next year!


Topics: Berrett-Koehler

New Leadership Paradigm - Free Download

Recent Posts