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Two pre-LBF deals top £1m in rights frenzy
Agents have claimed two big-money deals worth £500,000 each, which could mark a return to confidence in the rights market in the crucial weeks ahead of next month's London Book Fair.

Simon & Schuster publishing director Suzanne Baboneau won UK & Commonwealth rights to début, The Age of Miracles written, coincidentally, by S&S US editor Karen Thompson Walker. The title was secured for "pretty close" to £500,000, according to agent Cathryn Summerhayes, who handled the deal.

Summerhayes, at William Morris Entertainment, working on behalf of primary agent Eric Simonoff in New York, hailed the high-figure deal as "a sign that things are picking up". Picador and Fourth Estate were the underbidders in the final round of the auction.

Summerhayes added: "This is one of the most assured and emotive débuts I've ever read and it was incredibly thrilling that so many UK publishers felt the same. It was the most competitive auction I've ever had the opportunity to run and I'm thrilled with the outcome."

The book opens with a family in a Californian town waking up to the news that the world is turning more slowly. Life is thrown into turmoil and panicked governments dictate that the traditional 24-hour cycle must be followed, regardless of the sun.

Baboneau said: "It is a novel of big ideas, but absolutely grounded, written with crystal clarity and beautiful rhythm. For S&S UK to have acquired The Age of Miracles against the most formidable competition is a miracle in itself."

The Bookseller