It's starts on Monday. For the three days next week, April 20th - 22nd where will you be? I know that I will be at home, but reading the publishing press avidly, for it is the week of the London Book Fair, and this year I’ll miss it. How I will mourn for the constant, inescapable background buzz of people talking passionately about books, the dazzling arrays of colourful displays, my tired feet and the parched longing for a cup of tea (which you try to ignore until you really are so desperate you’re prepared to wait in a long line to spend at least £1.75 for a small builder’s style cuppa).
The same will no doubt be said by many absent publishing executives, who are minimizing travel budgets this year due to the economic crisis in many parts of the world. However, it is widely reported that executives within the London Book Fair's organsiation are optimistic that Fair attendance levels will come close to reaching those of last year. “Pre-registration is looking most pleasing at the moment,” said Alistair Burtenshaw of Reed Exhibitions, group exhibition director for the LBF. This despite childrens’ publishers’ attendance down 9% according to the Bookseller.
Despite the distance and expense, many will still travel from far away, notably from India. India is the 2009 Market Focus country (last year it was the Arab World). Following Slumdog Millionaire’s triumph at the Oscars, perhaps this is the year for Indian success stories. The British Council’s new literature programme, India 09: Through Fresh Eyes aims to highlight the India Market Focus at London Book Fair 2009, and includes a series of ten panel discussions. The British Council are bringing over 40 Indian authors to participate.
So who will be there?
Publishers, Agents, Press. Representatives from across the spectrum of the publishing industry, from literary scouts and rights sellers through book buyers and booksellers. There are printers and packagers, wholesalers and distributors, remainder dealers and digital content suppliers. And that’s aside from supporting organisations and associations, such as Young Publishers or DACS, or those involved in press and promotion. The majority of exhibition floor space is dedicated to publishers and stands are divided into the following zones:
Art, Architecture & Design
Children's and Young Adult Publishing (including the Illustrators café)
Remainder and Promotional
Travel Publishing and Maps
But The Fair will also host a great number of authors taking part in the official programmes, including open-to-the-public seminars and lectures which are included in the Fair entrance price, such as the "Working Relationships Series - The Editor and Author; Denise Johnstone-Burt talks to Patrick Ness." Authors speaking at the PEN Literary Cafe will include William Boyd, Umberto Eco, Prue Leith, Azar Nafisi, Andrew O'Hagan, James Patterson, Meg Rosoff and Sarah Waters. The Cafe will also be the venue for a series of interviews with Indian authors, as well as major literary events such as the announcement of the Orange Prize shortlist and the presentation of the Hessell-Tiltman Award for History and the Academia Rossica Translation Prize.
I’ll post a little about different aspects of Fair activity over the coming week, in five parts. ‘What do Daddies do all Day?’ By Richard Scarry was one of my favourite children’s books. (Now it's people, not daddies). So on Monday I’ll be looking at some of the roles in the industry, "What do people do all day at the London Book Fair?" and why. Including the somewhat shocking revelation that Book Buyers generally don’t go to the London or Frankfurt book fairs to buy books, according to Sharon Kastner, Product Manager for International Books at Libri GmbH. I'll give a brief overview on Tuesday at Rights Negotiation with some interesting words of wisdom from Publishing Director Jenny Tyler, and tomorrow, give you my beginner's opinion on why unpublished authors should attend LBF.
For those who decide to venture a last minute visit, order your entry pass online now and print it at home, or call the ticket hotline with a credit card. Tickets to London Book Fair are still £25 in advance for the final few hours, but £40 on the door when it opens on Monday at 9am at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, London SW5 9TA.
Now, I'm off to put my feet up, with a homemade cup of Earl Grey. Oh, it's just not the same.