September 17, 2014

Minutes of AIEP/IACW 2014 Meeting Romania


Minutes of the AIEP/IACW 2014 annual meeting Bucharest / Rasnov (Romania) August 19-20-21

Tuesday, August 19

  1. Present: Bogdan Hrib (Rumania), Jutta Motz (Switzerland), Bob Cornwell (UK), Jim Davis, Jim Weikart and Deen Kogan (USA), Ken and Harue Matsuzaka and Tadashi Oyama (Japan), Emanuel Ikonomov (Bulgaria), Charles den Tex (Netherlands). The president, Emanuel Ikonomov (EI) welcomed everyone and thanked the Rumanian hosts and Bogdan Hrib in particular for the organization of the meeting at such short notice.
  2. Charles den Tex volunteered to take the minutes of the meeting.
  3. Reports from the Branches
    1. Switzerland (Jutta Motz): reported on the Amazon Disaster (as they call it), they pay the lowest wages and charge the highest rates from publishers. They even blackmail publishers. The Syndikat (German crime writers association) has asked all its members to write to Amazon. The global dispute seems to be between Amazon on the one side and the Hachette Book Group and the Bonnier Group (Sweden) on the other.
      1. On a national level, Switzerland has no national award, its authors compete in the German crime fiction award. Swiss publishers are moving more into the German market.
      2. Swiss publishers are predominantly sales-figure orientated, not author orientated. Only 3 (family-owned) publishers fall into the last category.
      3. In 2013 Switzerland hosted the Criminale which was very successful.
      4. 2014 has so far been very quiet. The hopeful news is that the Swiss are still prepared to pay a good price for books.
    2. Austria (Helga Anderle, by mail): When it comes to size, Austria is only a small country, but in crime writing the AIEP branch can boost with more than 100 members. Many Austrian authors are also members of the German crime writers organization and take part in the Criminale, the biggest crime festival hosted in different German cities; several Austrian authors have won the renown German Glauser award.
      1. Crime festivals. There are several events celebrating the genre. Long established is Kriminacht which is held in autumn, featuring international authors besides local ones and mainly taking place in different cafés; next is Murderous Spring, organized by our members and exclusively for readings by our own members. There are other events dedicated to the crime genre outside of Vienna.
      2. Publishing: the majority of our authors are published in Germany. Lately the renowned Vienna-based publisher Falter has published some anthologies focusing on murder in typical Viennese locations, e.g. Riesenrad, Heurigen, cafés, cemetery, etc.
      3. Awards: on the initiative of our organization, the City of Vienna and the booksellers association have founded the so-called Leo-Perutz-Preis. Among our members a debate is going on whether we should create our own award.
      4. Helga Anderle, who has founded the Austrian AIEP branch in 1996 and was its chairwoman ever since, has retired in June and was nominated honorary chairwoman. A new board was elected.
      5. After complaints by some members a new homepage of our organization was started this spring:
    3. USA (Jim Weikart): The North American branch has about 280 members, this year it welcomed 25 new members. Mary Frisque sends her greetings to all, she cannot attend as she does not want to fly.
      1. Mary Frisque sends out a newsletter by weekly email in which she introduces new members (and covers other topics). The question is posed if Mary can put some AIEP members on her mailing list.
      2. The Hammett Prize this year was won by Angel Baby by Richard Lange.
      3. This year the Hammett award was organized in conjunction with Bloody Words in Canada. It is the last year that the two will co-operate because Bloody Words is to be discontinued. The Hammett is therefore looking for another venue. Options are: Killer Nashville, Noir Con in Philadelphia or the Mystery Convention in Key West (which has an attractive end-of-the-road-feeling (dixit JW).
      4. Jim Davis reports on the facebook page he runs. He links to relevant articles that appear on the net. Anyone can post news on the page. The page has about 200 followers. Some authors use the page to promote their books and e-books, their commercial efforts are usually deleted.
      5. Deen Kogan: reports on her involvement with Noir Con ( It is a convention (every second year) which focusses on books, film, poetry and art. Every convention honours a publisher, this year that is Soho Press. This year’s guest is Fuminori Nakamura. Noircon 2014 is October 29-30-31.
    4. Japan (Ken Matsuzaka and Tadashi Oyama): They presented a historical overview of Japanese crime fiction and of Japanese titles in translation. Also a Top 5 of original Japanese crime fiction titles over the last 12 months and a Top 5 of foreign titles in Japanese translation. Very comprehensive and insightful. Best original Japanese titles were:
      1. Knox’s Machine by Rintaro Ayatsuji.
      2. Training Center in the Police School by Hiroki Nagaoka.
      3. The Buoyancy of the Agent of Death by Kotaro Isaka.
      4. Riverside Children by Yu Kizaki.
      5. Murder in Alice in Wonderland by Yasuzo Kobayashi
    5. UK (Bob Cornwell): It is increasingly difficult to measure the UK market because of e-books and self publishing.
      1. Figures from the UK Publisher's Association indicate that sales of books dropped in the UK by 2% in 2013; print dropped by 5%, digital increased by 19%. Digital now accounts for 15% of sales. NB These figures DO NOT include Amazon's UK sales which grew by 13% during 2013 but which includes items other than books.
      2. Digital growth is slowing: + 58% in 2011, +65% in 2012, +19% in 2013.
      3. UK CWA numbers are "approaching" 630, the highest ever recorded. 61 books were submitted for the 2013 International Dagger, including writers from Israel, Korea and Japan. The prize was won by Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Siege (and his translator Frank Wynne).
      4. The Crime Reader's Association, a 2012 initiative from the CWA, now has 6,000 subscribers. It has its own website which features a facility for following individual writers, a blog, an events calendar and a Read of the Week. Find it at
      5. Another new CWA initiative is support for Noirwich (ouch!), a new crime event based in Norwich, the first UNESCO City of Literature in the UK. The event will be held between 10-14 September 2014.
      6. The UK Publisher's Association last estimated the number of translated titles in fiction, drama and poetry in 2008 as 4.6% of the total (up from 4.4% in 2000, and 4.5% in 2005). The estimated equivalent figures in crime titles alone are not available for 2000, but in 2005 reached 5.2% (approx 36 titles), and in 2008 reached 11.5% (approx 66 titles). In 2013, over 100 titles were published, around 15% of the total. This is a very significant figure, achieved in a market dominated by highly productive US and UK writers, not to mention writers from other English-speaking countries such as Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, all significant crime writing countries.
      7. One effect of this expansion is a recent increase in the number of smaller publishers prepared to risk the promotion of translated titles, not always crime, and most certainly looking for good writing. They include Arcadia (revived after a previous collapse), Dedalus, Istros, Hesperus, LeFrenchBook (USA), Melville House UK (a new branch of the US company), Norvic, Sandstone, Scribe, Stork, and Thames River. Istros and Stork along with Profusion (who brought Bogdan Hrib and George Arion to the UK in 2012) have all expressed an interest in new writing from central and eastern Europe.
      8. Amazon developments: the Amazon Crossing editorial team (yes, they have editors!), published 14 crime titles in translation in 2013, available in the UK as both e-book and print-on-demand copies. In 2014 they have announced another 10 tiles to date, including its first Chinese crime writer, and the 2012 Glass Key winner! Whatever the final number, Amazon is set to be amongst, if not the leading publisher of translated crime fiction in the UK.
      9. Amazon is also in the market for outstanding work in the novella/short form ("Compelling Ideas Expressed At Their Natural Length" goes the slogan). They call them Amazon Singles. And last year, as part of its recently formed Publishing division (ie real books) a crime imprint known as Thomas & Mercer came into being. Earlier this year Amazon were trying to establish these titles in UK bookshops… These guys are serious.
      10. A couple of positive outcomes from last year's Oxford conference. Although none of the untranslated writers who featured on our 'new' writers panel to date have landed a UK deal, much interest was expressed by the publishers attending. Also panel-member Daniela Petracco, Managing Director of Europa UK (an offshoot of E/O Edizione, Italy) set up International Crime Month (July 2014) in conjunction with Maclehose, Serpent's Tail, Stork, Bitter Lemon and No Exit Press along with Melville House UK, fellow publishers of translated crime fiction. An event at the London Review Bookshop gave valuable publicity to writers from Spain, Italy, Poland, and Montenegro. More events will follow.
      11. Finally Oxford participant Barry Forshaw published his Pocket Essential guide to Euro Noir in May (here and there assisted by an occasional AIEP member). Covering both print, TV and movies, this is a comprehensive and entertaining guide to the best of European crime fiction available in English. Most European countries are featured, including Poland and Romania.
    6. The Netherlands (Charles den Tex): The book market is still in a slump, book sales are down almost 10% from last year.
      1. This year the Dutch Annual Crime Fiction Award (The "Gouden Strop") was won by newcomer DAVID NOLET for his novel VERSLEUTELD (ENCRYPTED) in which the lead character traces his grandfather back to his work as a radio operator in a surveillance centre during WW2. His search brings old spies back into action.
      2. A large chain of quality book stores went bankrupt. Individual stores are trying to pick up the pieces and start again. About half of them will probably succeed. Some of them made a new start through crowd-funding.
      3. A large chain of second hand book stores, that was affiliated with the other chain went under and will probably not return.
      4. E-books are still only about 5-6% of total book sales
      5. We are starting DUTCH CRIME an online magazine to promote crime fiction from the Netherlands through translations of short stories, reviews, interviews and articles. We are looking into the possibility of subsidies to pay for the translations.
    7. Bulgaria (Emanuel Ikonomov): The Bulgarian AIEP Chapter comprises about 50 members and meets for events like organised visits to crime labs or shooting fields.
      1. The book market is stagnating while e-book market is underdeveloped. It is difficult to give a precise number of crime books by Bulgarian authors because there are no official statistics. Excluding self-publications, they could just be a dozen a year (2013/2014).
      2. For the last 3 years, the Bulgarian AIEP Chapter gave an annual award (called Atanas Mandadzhiev) for a published crime book instead for a short story (unpublished) competition as it has done from 2000 to 2010.
    8. Rumania (Bogdan Hrib): suggests to make the Dutch Crime online magazine a 3-european country effort and to apply for EU-subsidy.
  4. Afternoon: visit to the People’s Palace in Bucharest. Evening: Visit to a theatre to see the play Heiress (presented in English) by Romanian author Lucia Verona.

Wednesday, August 20

Transfer by car from Bucharest to Rasnov. Visit of Peles Castle in Sinaia. In the afternoon visit to The Black Church in Brashov.

  1. During dinner on Wednesday 20the AIEP members raised their glasses in memory of Jeremiah Healy,former president of AIEP/IACW.
  2. On Thursday the AIEP members met with a delegation of Rumanian authors, filmmakers, playwriters, publishers and readers to discuss the situation in Rumania and to exchange ideas.
    1. There are few translations in Rumanian from countries other than USA, UK, France and Germany.
    2. Last year only two Rumanian titles were translated, both to French. In 2011 three titles were translated, including Kill the General by Bogdan Hrib.
    3. Bob Cornwell presents a list of crime writers from eastern European countries published in the UK. Their numbers are growing (from 10 in 2000 to 100 in 2013).
    4. A discussion evolves about being published in another country, being promoted, and finding ways to make yourself noticed.
    5. For the English speaking market it seems important to have an agent, but getting an agent is difficult. A suggestion is made that authors should become their own agents, train as agent, register as agents and try to get onto book fairs as agents for each other. The downside is that most writers are not marketing specialists or salesmen / women.
    6. Breaking into a foreign market needs a long term effort. Henning Mankell took 5 years in the UK (same in the Netherlands) before he started selling.
    7. A national crime fiction award as an instrument to promote crime fiction by authors of that country. In the Netherlands the award was crucial in building the readership that Dutch crime fiction authors have today. But it took 20 years. In the USA and the UK awards generally do not help to increase sales. ‘Awards don’t sell books’ is what they say. The GLASS KEY (the Scandinavian award) has done a lot to promote Scandinavian authors at home and abroad. The award draws the attention of publishers. In Rumania an award could help to draw attention to the genre and to the authors.
    8. Attention for crime fiction in printed media seems to be small. Literary book reviewers are not interested in crime fiction. At the same time we can conclude that book reviews in newspapers may be a thing of the past. We should may be concentrate more on blogs and other ways to identify our target audience and reach out to them.
    9. In Japan most translated titles are from English speaking countries and from Scandinavian countries. The efforts by both the Swedish and the Netherlands government in providing financial support for translations is noted.
    10. Emanuel Ikonomov formally thanks our Rumanian hosts.
  3. Lecture by Gabriella Cornelia Horosan. She spoke about bio-terrorism and cyber-terrorism, about biological agents, viruses and bacteria, and about the similarities between bio and cyber terrorism.
  4. Visit to the Citadel of Rasnov.
  5. The IACW-website: in between meetings Emanuel Ikonomov, Jutta Motz and Charles den Tex discussed the future of the IACW website. It is hard to know what to do, very few people visit the website. That seems to be a general trend for websites. If we want to generate traffic the website will have to be maintained actively with news, links and other. And even then it is unsure if people will be interested. A facebook page (like the one by Jim Davis) seems to work much better. During this year Emanuel Ikonomov will put forward a proposal.
  6. Future meetings. There is no candidate for hosting next year’s meeting (2015). Bogdan Hrib suggested that we were welcome to return next year, but no definite arrangements were made. For 2016 Jutta Motz will investigate the possibilities of teaming up with Sisters In Crime in Germany. That would be in the fall.

Thursday, August 21

  1. Closing dinner. All were invited to a wonderful dinner in Rasnov on Thursday 21. No speeches were made.
  2. Film: Viewing of an independently made movie with English subtitles in the Rasnov cinema.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Madison Davis

Prof. Jim Madison Davis is the author of several crime novels and several nonfiction books, including the forthcoming Van Gogh Conspiracy. A President Worldwide of the International Association of Crime Writers, he teaches novel and filmscript writing in the Professional Writing Program of the Gaylord College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.



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