Week 27/20 – week ending 3 July

ILP strikes BBC deal

The deal allows BBC Studios Production and its portfolio of independent producers the opportunity to explore the intellectual property owned and managed by ILP. Set up late last year, ILP currently holds the rights for authors including Georges Simenon, Eric Ambler, Margery Allingham, Edmund Crispin, Dennis Wheatley, Robert Bolt, Richard Hull, George Bellairs, Nicolas Freeling, John Creasey and Michael Innes as well as 20% of Evelyn Waugh’s estate.

Hilary Strong, ceo for ILP UK, said: “This first look deal with BBC Studios provides ILP with the perfect global creative partner to promote Britain’s heritage in literature and re-discover these classic works through modern adaptations. BBC Studios and its partner scripted production companies provide us with a very exciting opportunity to not only fast-track these works into production, but to make them with the high-end production values they deserve.

“Our creative team headed up by Emma Bell and Andy Brunskill will be producing creative bibles for each estate providing producers with a detailed catalogue highlighting the opportunities they hold for screen adaptation.”

Mark Linsey, chief creative officer for BBC Studios, said: “Literary classics are timeless, and in the right creative hands can be adapted to feel contemporary and of the moment. We look actively for partnerships and collaborations which showcase British talent at its finest, and we’re excited about the creative opportunities that this deal provides.”

The deal was brokered by Hilary Strong at ILP and Martin Rakusen for BBC Studios.

Last month PFD announced the sale of its 12 owned literary estates to ILP in a £10m+ deal. According to PFD: ‘The eight-figure deal marks the fruition of a highly successful investment and enables the agency to focus on expanding its representation of new literary estates.’ PFD will continue to act as literary agent for all 12 estates.

The 12 were: Georges Simenon, Eric Ambler, Margery Allingham, Edmund Crispin, Dennis Wheatley, Robert Bolt, Richard Hull, George Bellairs, Nicolas Freeling, John Creasey, Michael Innes and Evelyn Waugh.

ILP was set up last year to ‘acquire the rights in literary estates from those who have inherited them, or from living authors seeking financial certainty from an experienced and engaged buyer. This deal is the first major slate of acquisitions announced by ILP, which will pro-actively manage the estates it buys or buys into, working with agents to support their exploitation across all media platforms.’

ILP is run in the UK by Strong, previously chair of the Agatha Christie estate, and Anthology Group founder, Bob Benton, with the New York-headquartered business led by Scott Hoffman as group ceo and executive chairman Ted Green. ‘The executive team brings many decades of experience in literary, TV, Film, theatre and music rights management and exploitation,’ according to a statement from ILP.

Book sales bounce back as lockdown eases

With many more bookshops now reopened, Nielsen Book is once again able to provide concrete figures on sales through the BookScan TCM universe, with the latest data showing that in the week to 27 June 2020 (week 26), 3.2m books were sold. While this was 16% down on the bumper week before – the first week with most shops open and reporting again – it was, encouragingly, still 6% up on the same week in 2019. Market value data was equally encouraging: £28.m was taken through tills, 9% up on the same week in 2019, albeit somewhat down on the previous week.

The overall bestseller list reveals two new hardbacks in at numbers 1 and 2: Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons (HarperCollins) and John Bolton’s controversial expose of the White House, The Room Where it Happened (Simon & Schuster) respectively. As has been widely reported, Ello-Lodge’s 2018 polemic Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race can also be found in the top 10 (number 3 overall, number 1 in paperbacks), with the 2019 bestseller, Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, at number 4 and with the paperback of Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize winner Girl, Women, Other at number 5. Overall, the top 10 titles accounted for nearly £1m worth of sales in week 26.

Penguin releases Perspectives collection as ebook and podcast

Penguin Random House has announced it is publishing the complete Perspectives collection as an ebook and a bonus episode on the Penguin Podcast. Penguin Perspectives, an essay series featuring 20 Penguin authors including Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman (pictured), was posted on penguin.co.uk for four weeks between April and May 2020 and aimed to ‘capture the hopes and fears of life in early lockdown, and form a manifesto for how we might emerge from the crisis better than before’. The ebook and podcast episode will both be available on 4 July.

Penguin Podcast reaches 65,000 monthly viewers and is hosted by Nihal Arthanayake. The special episode will feature the Penguin Perspectives authors reading their essays from the collection, recorded from home during lockdown, and is introduced by Penguin Random House ceo Tom Weldon. In it he discusses the way that Penguin has a role to play in “enrich[ing] and entertain[ing] our readers” and says the essays have allowed us to “document this extraordinary moment in time and shape the vision for what might come next”. He finishes by saying he hopes that the collection presents “a reminder of what great writing has always had to offer us, particularly during times of fear […] and above all, a little of the hope we need to pick ourselves up and carry on”.

£10,000 has been donated to booksellers affected by Covid-19 as part of the project. The authors and essay titles are are as follows:

Malorie Blackman – A new normal
Lee Child – How lucky we were
Jung Chang – My Chinese family at the time of coronavirus
Nick Hornby – The calm intelligence of the BBC
Edith Eger – An invitation to choose the life you want
Philip Pullman – It’s all got to change
Sue Black – The time of the heart
AC Grayling – Enlightenment for a time of benightedness
Julia Samuel – What we learn from death
Jojo Moyes – A year of change
David Quammen – The reminders
Deborah Levy – Eating cherries in the park
Seth Godin – Evenly distributed
AL Kennedy – To be learned, to be remembered
Lewis Dartnell – Consider the pencil
Lucy Hawking – Making peace with time
Simon Sinek – We cannot do this alone
Scarlett Curtis – Silver linings
Gabor Maté – The unwelcome teacher
Michael Morpurgo – Time to stand and stare