Hello everyone, so this time last week I was at the London book fair for the first time.
Here is a short reflection of my three days there!
So my first London Book Fair was… well… I can’t really sum it up in just one word so let me try and set the scene for you.
I had been told stories about the book fair before. Most of these recollections involved variations of the same sort of terms: ‘amazing’, ‘grand’ or even more simply ‘cool’. However, none of these accounts prepared me for 3 floors, two grand halls and about fifteen coffee shops…
When I first entered Olympia I was honestly at awe. I know that’s cliché to say and I wish I had a more original way to describe it but it’s true- it was awesome. When you think of the phrase “book fair” you can’t help but visualise a few tents filled with eager, cultured-looking, London-living booklovers engaging in fierce debate over various plot twists, hidden-messages and characterisation. The term is outstandingly misleading and doesn’t quite do the event justice. So for all those who know very little about the book industry the book fair is most definitely a business event.
I’ll try and clarify what I mean by that- publishing, distribution, sales, publicity and printing companies are all there to look for opportunities to grow their businesses. For the most part the stands are manned by one or two employees whilst the rest of the team are preoccupied with back to back meetings. I for one can vouch for that, both directors of Critical Publishing had meetings every half hour from the beginning of the day till the end, most of which were planned and booked in the two weeks leading up to the fair!
When there is some free time available, seminars run throughout the day in about seven different conference rooms where the range of topics available is nothing short of impressive, I’ve got the list for you here. I filled my days attending these seminars, meeting with other interns and getting to grips with the fact that I was only aware of a small fraction of publishing companies out there.
Do you know what I loved most about the fair though? The fact that everyone spoke to each other or knew of each other or made an effort to network with people they hadn’t met yet. For such a massive industry, it is ridiculously tight-knit and that is comforting to be around- booklovers stick together!
Oh and I almost forgot- the free wine was a great bonus too!
So all in all, a great few days filled with books, business, a lot of walking and an excessive amount of caffeine.
Word on the street is that Frankfurt is even bigger… so I look forward to someday going there too!
If you have any questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org – as always we’d love to hear from you.