11th to 13th April saw a huge union of publishers, literary agents, booksellers and book lovers in general, as Earls Court played host to the annual London Book Fair. Fortunately, I got to attend the Monday and Tuesday of the three day event; and I was thrilled to be mixing and mingling.
The London Book Fair was primarily a platform for publishers, large and small, to promote and display their books. No surprise the big publishers really took advantage of their huge stands which could only be described as cafés and small restaurants.
…every little corner to disseminate to the world the products and services of their imprints…
The one which really comes to mind was the extensive expansion occupied by Hachette UK, who literally used every little junction, every little corner to disseminate to the world the products and services of their imprints such as Hodder & Stoughton, Headline and Octopus Publishing Group.
Also, it was obvious this was a place of negotiation and business. Consistently there were publishers networking, fusing, setting up deals, chatting about good all times. “How’s the wife?” “Did you know he’s moved business? He’s working for them now” “How are you?… It’s been such a long time” I was constantly pushed into the crux of their conversations as some kind of tuned out observer.
Time & Effort
Most stands were handing out catalogues, leaflets, and distribution brochures which I have to say must have taken a lot of time and effort to formulate. Some stands were even kind enough to give out free books. World Book Night was practically throwing books at people from the leftover supply. I picked up a copy of David Nicholls’s One Day, copies of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and Mark Haddon’s modern-day classic The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
The London Book fair is recognized for its endless list of Seminars and events. The one which I really got a kick out of was a debate about how the digital environment is changing the art of storytelling. The panel was headed by editor of Wired magazine and included Matt Locke , formerly from Channel 4, and Frank Rose, author of the book The Art of Immersion.
What was most insightful about this discussion was how TV audience had altered their demands and requirements due to such developments in technology and the internet. Watching an episode of the favourite show e.g. Lost isn’t enough; they need to go on the internet and read blogs about their favourite characters and be constantly appraised about their shows.
…how society tries to deal with processing a bad memory.
The highlight for me was a 15 minute interview with author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Kazou Ishiguro at the English Pen Literary Cafe. The interview was fascinating and at no point slithered into a fruitless look into what colour clothes he preferred or what he got up to on a Friday night. He talked about the success of Never Let Me Go and what inspiration he got for writing. More importantly he talked about his potential next project, one which he has been trying to crack for ages: looking into memory processing and how society tries to deal with processing a bad memory.
All in all I can say a good couple of days at the London Book Fair, especially as I got to hear from not only Kazou Ishiguro but what I wasn’t planning, author of the day, Russian writer of The Winter Queen, Boris Akunin. And the free books do help.