More than 630 U.S. publishing professionals made the trip to Mexico for the 20th Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL), held in Guadalajara November 25— December 3. American attendance was about even with 2005, but the show continues to attract newcomers, including Grupo Nelson—Thomas Nelson's Spanish-language publishing group—which had a booth for the first time. "Finding ourselves among all the movers and shakers was tremendous," said v-p and publisher Larry Downs. "We see [FIL] as our number one trade show." Thomas Nelson president Michael Hyatt, at FIL for the first time, said his experience "makes me more resolute about the importance of the Spanish-language market."
Terry Nathan, director of the Publisher's Marketing Association, also attending his first FIL, "was pleasantly surprised at the size of the Spanish-language market, and the size and quality of the show." But, he said, while it was obvious to him that it was a great fair for those working with Spanish-language books, he was unsure whether it is a good place to sell rights. "PMA had been hoping to sell [translation] rights," he said, adding that he hadn't decided about attending in 2007.
FIL organizers have worked to expand the rights portion of the show over the years, with mixed results. "Unlike Frankfurt—where foreign publishers go to English-language publishers to purchase rights—in Guadalajara, rights agents have to contact the Spanish-language publishers for appointments," explained David Unger, FIL's representative in the U.S. This year's Rights Center featured 50 tables, compared to 42 last year, and 106 literary agents and rights personnel, about the same as 2005. Atria Books executive v-p and publisher Judith Curr found her first FIL "invigorating" and said she had already received a submission from a Mexican author she met at the fair.
Librarians also headed south this year, 229 of them. Elissa Miller, collection development librarian, Arlington Public Library, Va., explained that "so much of attending FIL is to see friends and colleagues, and nurture the interest and excitement of Spanish-language literature... and of course, the development of vibrant library collections."
As always, events included author panels and book signings by renowned writers such as Tomás Eloy Martínez, Carlos Fuentes and Elena Poniatowska, as well as U.S. authors whose works have been translated, including Jonathan Lethem and Elizabeth Kostova.
Among the books at FIL that will be debuting in Spanish in the U.S. soon are translations of Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City (Planeta) and Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Santillana).