A shelf with a view

There are several excellent bookstores in Florence that carry English-language books, but the one we haunted most was Edison in Piazza della Repubblica. In addition to the usual guides, art books and novels, Edison also carried such popular travel writers as Paul Therault, Bill Bryson, Frances Mayes, and the nonno of them all, Peter Mayle.

Every travel writer pines for the same exalted category as Mayle’s best-seller, A Year in Provence, first published in 1989. I don’t expect to reach similar stratospheric success, but I wouldn’t mind rubbing shoulders with Mayle and the others, by placing copies of Fantasy in Florence in bookstores throughout Italy for consideration by the millions of tourists who teem into the country.

As a result, I’m looking a distributor in Italy. My publishing contract with McArthur & Co. covered Canadian rights only and while the book has done well in Canada, the time has come to see if I can crack foreign markets. For a U.S. deal, you need a platform. In other words, if I were Lou Dobbs, distribution would be a snap. Seeing what’s happened to His Shrillness these days, I’m glad I’m not him.

I spoke with Paolo Ponti, Italian Trade Commissioner in Toronto, who promotes Italian exports to Canada. He has made two helpful suggestions. First, there’s the International Book Fair in Torino May 8-12. Second, the Canadian Embassy in Rome. I’ll be looking into both.

Meanwhile, any other thoughts are welcome. Wish me luck!

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