Monday, April 24, 2023

Impressions Of My First London Book Fair


It was great to attend my first London Book Fair this past week. I have heard so much of the show and was curious to see what it has to offer, especially since Book Expo America has stopped having its annual US show after the one in 2019.

Now in the middle of my third year of working from my man cave at home, I crave mixing it up with the book world. I found the time and expense of this trip to be worthwhile.

I enjoyed walking around and feeling an energy and buzz in the air that has been missing during the pandemic years. It was nice to feel amongst like-minded people, each person filled with goodwill for books and the promotion of deeper thoughts, history, fantasies, and culture.

This show is very different from what was Book Expo America. For one, there were no celebrity authors attending though Duchess Sarah Ferguson was spotted, no book signings, no book giveaways, no promotional swag, and no costumed people walking the floor. This is more of a rights show, where publishers and literary agents jockey for time with each other to sell foreign rights. There are also authors here, many of them seeking to learn how to self-publish or acquire literary representation.

Unfortunately, the show is poorly run in many respects. Let’s start with the following:

Lack Of Space
Seating areas, even by food, are almost non-existent. Even a spot to sit on the floor was hard to come by.  Some 30,000 attendees were treated like cattle. Disgrace.

Food Vendor Inefficiency
The long lines at the food vendors could easily be cut in half if each kiosk simply had one more worker at a cash register. One stand, for instance, had two registers but only one was staffed and that person was busy half the time not ringing up purchases but filling up tea and coffee orders. Mind you, this vendor sold pre-packaged food. You just needed a grab and pay express line. So poorly run and so unnecessary.

Uninformed Workers
There were many information desk helpers but whenever I asked them where something was, they really had no clue. Even worse, I was given contradictory or wrong information on numerous occasions.

Media Office
Usually a media office has information related to the show or provides an area where people can drop off press releases to make announcements. The room here had nothing like that. A list of highlighted events was handwritten on a smart board. That was it. There were a few chairs and nothing more. As a book blogger, I attended as a member of the media but was unimpressed at the emptiness of this room.

Lousy Seminar Acoustics

Some of the events are held in non-enclosed areas, such as by the section where independent authors are given advice. These areas do a terrible job of blocking outside noise. The seating area is small, leaving many standing on the perimeter who simply cannot cleanly hear what is being shared.

Lack of Charging Stations
Have a laptop or phone low on battery? Tough shit. The building is ill-equipped to handle a 21st century event.

Still, despite the show being in need of desperately obvious improvements, the overall functioning of the show was very good. There were over 100 45-minute sessions that shared a wide scale of discussion, from book trends to publishing sustainability and equity to licensing, getting published, and marketing your book.

As for London itself? Great city. This is my third trip to Great Britain. Save for Canada, I have never been to another country this many times. It is very cultured and bustling, much like my home in the New York City area. But I have noticed a few things about life here, including:


* People are not nearly as fat as in America

* There are more smokers in the UK than the US

* The streets are very clean in the kingdom

* They still have newsstands selling papers here

* The streets are filled with well-preserved, old and architecturally unique buildings

* People are more polite and reserved here

* Far fewer homeless, beggars, or outwardly insane people walking the streets here

* Honking drivers on the streets is rare here


The London Bok Fair is a good reminder that books play such an important part in our lives. May it continue to grow and help the book industry grow s well.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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