Cover Stories: Frankfurt Book Fair; Bloomsbury's executive director Richard Charkin; Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir; Ned Sherrin

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Publishers are in the usual frenzy that occurs in the week before the Frankfurt Book Fair, the industry's pre-eminent international gathering. And this year there will be a number of distractions from the usual business of buying and selling. For one thing, Caroline Michel, newly installed MD of the PFD agency (left), will be trying to maintain a silence about goings-on there. After a series of alleged resignations, 20 agents who have supposedly stated their intention of setting up on their own are still working at PFD, even though many of their clients have reportedly said they will join their new endeavour. To replace them, Michel will now have to flourish the chequebook of owners CSS Stellar at up-and-coming agents whose career paths are blocked elsewhere. But rebuilding the business will take time and patience. It is not known whether Michel consulted anyone at PFD about the poisoned chalice she was offered – even her friend and mentor Pat Kavanagh. The entire trade is agreed that PFD and Michel are in a situation entirely without precedent.

Meanwhile, Richard Charkin now has his feet under the table as executive director at Bloomsbury, leaving Macmillan colleagues shell-shocked by his sudden departure. As with Michel, insiders ask why he was able to clear his desk so fast, to begin work at Bloomsbury within days. A few weeks ago, Bloomsbury co-founder Nigel Newton separated the roles of Chairman and CEO, retaining the latter. Which means that he has now given away power above and below – but then, as he puts it, "I have nothing left to prove". But Charkin is never keen on being second-in-command – Reed Books hands remember how, within a few months of arrival, he had taken over the top job. Bloomsbury will be a truly fascinating space to watch.

There have been any number of accounts coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq, but fewer first-hand reports from South Darfur, a source of liberal guilt but little else. Now a woman raised there but living in London, where she is active in anti-genocide campaigns, is to tell her story. Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir is a personal account of an idyllic tribal upbringing rendered a nightmare by militia attacks. Her "stunning memoir" was bought by Hodder from Felicity Bryan, to be published next autumn.

So, goodbye, Ned Sherrin, as much a part of the book trade as broadcasting. His name adorns numerous spines but a further title, to which he put the finishing touches only six weeks ago, is due next month. Voices from the Wings (JR Books) will be a "connoisseur's collection" of showbiz anecdotes, promising "fresh, first-hand material".

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