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The London Book Fair (From A Blogger’s Perspective)

A photo of the London Book Fair from above

Please note there are several images in this post and most people’s faces have been obscured to protect their privacy.

The London Book Fair happens every year in April at the Earls Court exhibition centre. The purpose being to allow publishers to discuss rights, translations, and sales, the main features are meetings. This means that bloggers aren’t really in the best place; nevertheless there are a few seminars that are of general literary interest and if publishing staff have a free moment there is the potential of introducing yourself.

At least as far as the English-speaking world goes, the fair involves most publishers you can think of. There are also internationals, and the emphasis this year was on Turkey. Backed by Kobo, the event also hosts a number of digital companies associated with publishing, such as Overdrive.

A photo of Johanna Briton from Overdrive, discussing statistics during her speech

I’ve spotlighted Overdrive because theirs was the seminar I attended that was the most interesting. Based around reader discovery of books, the speech focused on libraries, a welcome change when everything recently has been against free books. Despite the fact that Overdrive’s work with libraries lead much of the speech to be a marketing exercise (understandably), there was interesting information to hear, such as the ALA‘s statistic that females with high income jobs are the biggest user group (I’m a little sceptical of that, myself), and that they buy 36 books per year (less sceptical).

A photo of Kobo's stand

I wasn’t able to talk to many publishers, given the general busy-ness (that said, Meike of Peirene Press talked of the possibility of arranging meetings in advance) but I did collect a couple of catalogs of upcoming releases. Naturally with so many publishers, going to each stand would have left me with the need to hire a porter, so I aimed for those I have worked with in the past. The bigger houses said they had no print catalogs, but the smaller ones did. Picking a few, because there are so many books and so little time, I’m happy to tell you the following:

A photo of Peirene Press's shelf, with most of their catalog displayed

  • Alma Books will shortly be publishing a new translation of Machiavelli’s The Prince, as well as Erasmus’s Praise Of Folly.
  • Quercus have the UK rights to Michelle Moran’s soon-to-be-published Empress Of India and a book called Soho 4 A.M. that is set in the 24 hours between London’s successful Olympics bid and 7/7.
  • The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth sounds fantastic (a sample from Allison & Busby was available).

The exterior of Earl's Court, made up for the Fair

So, having given the Fair two visits (I also went there in 2011), I cannot recommend it for bloggers, however I wouldn’t rule it out as it’s the nearest we have to Book Expo America. There is interest here due to the sheer number of publishers and the fact of a massive centre dedicated to books for three days, but launches and parties are definitely better events for us.

A photo of the London Book Fair from above


jenn aka the picky girl

April 22, 2013, 1:53 am

That logo is so cool! This does seem a bit overwhelming, but I’m glad you had the experience. Seems like it was still successful even if it wasn’t the right fit for you. Very posh, to use Brit terminology. ;)


April 22, 2013, 2:10 am

Thanks for sharing the pictures and your experiences :) It does look quite busy! Being surrounded by all of those bookish people must have been pretty amazing.


April 22, 2013, 12:28 pm

Glad you got to go, ounds like some interesting info on the publishing industry – I wonder if they’ll consider ways to be more blogger-friendly in the future? seems like it could be a nice opportunity all around.


April 22, 2013, 2:58 pm

It’s a shame there isn’t any aspect geared to bloggers, but as an industry event there can’t be too much of a call for it.

Over all though, it sounds like you enjoyed it, which is good, and you’ve given a lovely update for those of us (me haha) who couldn’t attend.

Belle Wong

April 22, 2013, 4:30 pm

I’ve never been to an all-book event like this. It sounds like you had a good time, even though it wasn’t as good an event for bloggers as the BEA.


April 22, 2013, 8:07 pm

It’s a shame the book fair doesn’t include any events aimed at bloggers but I’m glad you still found some of it interesting. I’ve never had the opportunity to go to anything like this, so thanks for telling us about your experience of it.

The Wild Girl sounds intriguing and I’ll have to look out for Empress of India too!


April 23, 2013, 12:33 am

I love the overhead shots, but it sounds like the fair would be a bit overwhelming down below. I’m glad the Overdrive presentation was interesting — they provide so much of my reading now that it’s good to hear positive things about them.


April 23, 2013, 3:24 am

Thanks for the report! I was wondering how it went. I watched the keynote speech by Neil Gaiman online and thought it was quite good. I like his approach to the evolving process of publishing. Were you able to view it?
Overdrive is my library’s main ebook provider, but I see elderly retired people as the main users of their product – at least at my library.


April 23, 2013, 3:05 pm

Thanks for the post – it gives a bit of an idea about the fair. I guess there were some interesting seminars, but it’s nothing like book-heaven with free books like BEA, it seems.


April 26, 2013, 6:54 am

I wanted to read this post!!
In Mexico a big fair takes places every year too, I suppose it is like BEA, more or less; and I have a blogger friend there that buys in the fair all the books she is going to read during the year.

It wold be interesting to go to some lectures there there in the London fair, to know a little bit more about the edithors and so on. And it is also great to know what books are coming next!

Rebecca @ Love at First Book

April 26, 2013, 10:37 pm

I’m so jealous, even though you said it wasn’t the best for bloggers. . . and I’m a US girl, so it doesn’t work for me, either, but still!!!! COOL!!!


May 24, 2013, 12:45 pm

Jennifer (Relentless Reader): It is, it’s a dream world so to speak. Even if you don’t speak to everyone, it’s the atmosphere.

Jennifer: (Books, Personally): I think the day after this one they had a blogger panel, though only once as far as I know. I can see this expanding though I’m not sure by how much.

Alice: Yes, I think that’s it. If it were more like BEA there would likely be more.

Belle: It was fun, though at times it felt strange to be there.

Helen: There was one panel where a couple of bloggers spoke about authors using bloggers more, though it was a one-off the next day. I’m on the look out for The Wild Girl.

Jenny: There are so many people, though of course at the edges it’s easier to walk about. I’ve noticed a lot more about Overdrive since attending, whether because I know of them now or because they’ve gained more business I don’t know.

Anbolyn: I’ll have a look for it online, I missed it in reality. Interesting it’s elderly users using the ebooks more!

Judith: No, it is very different.

Isi: Interesting to hear that, I’d thought it was just BEA that was similar. Yes, books-wise there’s a lot of information, and slowly there is more for authors, too.

Rebecca: Hehe, I’d say you have it better with BEA, depending on how far away it is from you, of course.



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