Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A very quiet London Book Fair

I've just returned from the second day of a very quiet London Book Fair. On Monday more than a fifth of the seminars scheduled were cancelled and exhibitor numbers were also down by a fifth, as a result of the travel chaos, although judging by the quiet aisles and the number of publishers I spoke to they seemed to be down by more than that with many appointments cancelled.

An LBF spokesperson said "anecdotally" exhibitor numbers, including in the rights centre, were down 20-22%. The International Rights Centre was well down, with some estimates that as many as 50% of tables in the normally packed room were unoccupied, and I witnessed that!

Andrew Franklin, managing director of Profile, said: "It's looking really forlorn. It's been very hard to conduct business because there is no here to conduct it with."

Agent Carole Blake: "It's been surreal, but people are putting a huge effort in to get here. We had 12 South African authors scheduled to attend, and have got only three here. We'll do the business but it will take longer, and I don't know, but it may make people realise we don't need it. "

The problem will turn into 'OK, you've got here - now how do you get home?' a conversation I overheard in the Press Room by a publisher (not sure who) saying they are now having to foot hotel bills for the contacts who did make it over.

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