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A book fair with bite

Former publisher Francesca Spranzi has turned her entrepreneurial spark to setting up an online book fair for small publishers. Liz Bury reports

A new, virtual book fair aimed at small publishers has been started by fresh pasta enthusiast and former publisher Francesca Spranzi. The online rights showcase,, was set up using proceeds from selling fresh pasta at Notting Hill farmers' market, after Spranzi saw a need among small publishers for a cost-effective way to market their titles internationally.
"At Bologna Children's Book Fair last year, I went round with a pram full of sweeties, explaining my idea," says entrepreneur Spranzi. "The response was great. It's the same principle as any other book fair-the sale and acquisition of foreign rights."
As former managing editor at Italian art publisher Skira Editore, based in Milan, and then at Scala Publishing in London, where she "did a bit of everything", Spranzi knows how tough it is for smaller publishers to promote their works globally.
"Small, independent publishers find book fairs expensive and laborious,"Spranzi says. "This is a new tool, which can be used all year round and is accessible from everywhere."The site, designed by Netsoft Global, is up and running, and awaiting publishers' input. "Like an empty box, it needs content," Spranzi says.
She is offering a free £1,000 voucher, with no further commitment, to publishers, to try out the system. Those interested can email Spranzi directly (see details below), for their free trial. "The voucher is to encouragepeople to break the initial inertia when anything new comes up."
The site is free to browse; thecharge is £5 a week per book for a listing, on a "pay as you go" basis. After the free voucher is used up, publishers can purchase vouchers of £50, £100 or £1,000, which last for a year. "Every time you do a booking, it's deducted from your voucher," Spranzi says. "It's very flexible."
The website lists titles in one of 16 categories; for example, art, architecture and photography; education andlanguages; or travel and holiday. Anyone interested in a title can click on its cover and will be taken through to details of the publisher-there is no commission charged.

32 The Bookseller | 8 February 2008
"The website is very visual," Spranzi says. "Click and you have a full description of the book and it takes you straight to the publisher. I don't get involved." Covers can be displayed in small or large format, and there is an option to have them on the site's homepage. Publishers view their account and credit history, and update their profile, online. For those who want to view titles, the site is free to use, and no login is required.
Spranzi believes that the time is right for such a website, which she positions "not instead of book fairs", but as an additional tool. "There is a demand, a scope for this kind of service," she says. "Nowadays, there are book fairs everywhere. The Far East and India are opening up. But all this can be done online."
So what next for Pasta Fresca, her stall at Notting Hill Market, which sold out by 11 a.m. every Saturday morning of the fresh tagliatelle, tagliani and ravioli handmade in her kitchen? "The next stage is to combine the two-pasta and bookfaironline," Spranzi says. "With a book fair, the benefit is the face-to-face contact. An online book fair can never replace that. The next stage of is to provide high-quality food for small meetings where people can meet and discuss what they've seen online."

For more information about, email Francesca Spranzi at


Digital TV offers attractive new advertising channels for publishers. Hannah Davies writes

Books on the box

As digital TV channels become more popular in the UK, so publishers are seeing them as a cost-effective way to advertise authors to their audiences.
"Digital TV af fords all sorts of new opportunities because you can completely target your audience," Elizabeth Smith, Penguin General marketing director, says. At Harper-Collins, Ben Hurd, Press Books head of marketing, adds: "The cost of producing a broadcast-quality TV ad has come down considerably as technology has moved on. It has become an affordable part of the media mix."
Penguin capitalised on these developments early last year, when it sponsored a weekend of programming on entertainment channels Paramount and E!, targeting a female audience with its bestselling women's fiction writer Marian Keyes and her paperback, Anybody Out There.
"We wanted to do something that would have a big impact for her, and at Penguin we always want to do something first and something different," Smith says. "We didn't want to just buy ad spots, because we are in a privileged position with Marian. E! and Paramount understood that we had assets-content and a famous author who was a name and a face-so our budgets could go a lot further."
The ads aired during a weekend of programming around Valentine's Day 2007, straplined "Funny Side of", which included shows such as "Ally McBeal" and "Sex and the City". Promotion across the weekend comprised sponsorship "bumpers" with a voiceover, and a 30-second ad featuring Keyes talking about the book, Penguin's competition to win a trip to New York, and the publisher's specially created microsite. The campaign has helped Anybody Out There to become Keyes' biggest-selling paperback, with more than 595,000 copies sold since publication last February.
Penguin has since run ads on UKTV Drama, Five and Living TV for P J Tracy's Snow Blind and Plea of Insanity by Jilliane Hoffman, targeting audiences that watch crime dramas. Straight ad slots were
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