Netflix Heads To The World’s Biggest Book Fair As It Woos Publishers For Literary Buying Spree


EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is preparing to take part in its first keynote session at the Frankfurt book fair tomorrow, as its aggressive book-buying spree continues.

Kelly Luegenbiehl, vice president of international originals at Netflix, will speak at Frankfurter Buchmesse, the world’s biggest book market, and spell out the streamer’s plans to acquire literary rights directly before farming projects out to producers.

Netflix has been active in the sector for some time, striking deals directly with publishers and also authors, as it did with its five-year overall deal with Harlan Coben. This is nothing new, of course, as studios and networks have also dealt directly with the literary world for decades.

The difference with Netflix, Luegenbiehl said, is that it means business when it options a book. She told Deadline: “Where we go on a different path is that when we option, we option with an eye toward making it and not so it just sits in option. We love to make great stories.”

Luegenbiehl’s team is specifically tasked with uncovering gems in local markets and then ushering them onto Netflix’s global stage. She pointed to Egyptian drama Paranormal, based on deceased author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s series of novels.

“In the Middle East, it’s sold over 30M copies, but outside of the Middle East it’s very unknown. For us, it’s something we can do in the Arabic language, but also put it on a platform where a global audience will be able to experience it for the first time,” the content boss explained.

She is also trying to find unpublished, first-time authors, like it is doing in Italy, where Netflix made Luna Nera, which was based on a manuscript by Tiziana Triana, housed at publisher/producer Fandango. Triana’s novel will be published alongside the series. Adapting stories that have never been translated into English is another ambition, as Netflix did with Turkish drama The Protector.

Luegenbiehl said: “It’s about finding the most specific, authentic, local stories and bringing those to a global platform in a way that hasn’t ever been done before. Those ideas can come from books, blogs, podcasts, comics, or any range of creative expression.” On speaking in Frankfurt, she added: “For us to welcomed into that world is a really exciting opportunity.”

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