Traffic was strong at the international rights centre during the second day of the London Book Fair. While many agents and other insiders said there was no big book at the fair, talk was building about a coup Michael Carlisle and Richard Pine at Inkwell Management scored, signing Egyptian Internet activist Wael Ghonim. Ghonim became an international folk hero after his Facebook page, about Khaled Said an Egyptian man who was beaten to death by police, went viral and helped spark the revolution that swept Egypt. (Ghonim, who works for Google, is going to be awarded the 2011 Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and is slated to appear in the Time 100.) In an unorthodox sales approach, the agents set Ghonim up in a conference room in the rights center where, Monday and Tuesday, he gave roughly hour-long presentations discussing his life. Inkwell has not closed any deals yet for the book, Revolution 2.0, and is, instead, letting interested publishers leave their names, so to speak, at the door.

Aside from the buzz about Ghonim, many agents seemed positive, if low-key, about the fair itself. Katie Dublinski at Graywolf Press, who was attending the fair for the first time after multiple trips to Frankfurt, said she was busy and noted that there was less talk about e-books than there had been in Germany. “It seemed like every conversation I had at Frankfurt ended with, ‘So what are you doing about e-books?’” she said.

Brian DeFiore of DeFiore and Company said that the lack of a big book seems a sign of the times. Since it’s so easy to spread information about projects via e-mail, DeFiore thought the “urgency” publishers once felt about buying books at the fair is no longer there. DeFiore added that while there was talk about e-books, foreign publishers, including the British, did not seem to fully believe that e-books will penetrate their local market in the same way they have in the U.S. American publishers, he said, have seen the numbers with e-books “get so big, so quickly” that the format has actually infused an excitement into the business and has made American houses buy more aggressively. That is not happening with the foreign publishers, he said.

Marta Fricke, who handles international rights for St. Martin’s Press, said there was a “nice energy to the show” and that, mostly, everyone seemed pleased to be back in London after so many people could not attend last year because of the volcano.

Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, called e-books “a big topic,” but said he is hoping the conversation will move away from the heavy focus on royalties. Figuring out where e-books fit into an author’s career is what’s important, he said, and it’s a “mistake to be overly focused on the royalty issue alone.”

German agent Michael Gaeb, who was seeing strong interest in a debut crime novel he represents by Max Bentow called The Feather Man—it has sold in Spain and the Netherlands—said he’s been heartened to see a growing interest from American publishers in literature in translation. Although much talk in the States has been focused on a boon in Swedish crime bestsellers, on the heels of the global success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, Gaeb thinks this new interest goes beyond just crime fiction and just Swedish authors. That serious literary authors are finding footholds in American and England—in the States Roberto Bolaño has been a hit for FSG and in the U.K. Faber successfully published French author Tristan Garcia—may be sparking the trend. Gaeb said he’s seeing more interest in literary translations from the British and Americans here in London than he had even in Frankfurt where, he said, he tends to do more business with other continental European publishers.