London Book Fair has a special place in every publisher’s heart and every year we eagerly anticipate the busy days of book browsing, industry talks and inspirational meetings. Gill Books reports from the ground!
Nicki Howard, Director of Gill Books: I love London Book Fair. Book Fairs are exhilarating because they’re like being in very very large bookshops – of the future. The publishers display all their new releases for the coming season. I really like to see great cover design, new trends, clever titles. My favourite? The title of Chris Evans’ new book: Call the Midlife.
But the best part is the freedom of being away from your desk and open to inspiration. Lots and lots of chats over teas, coffees, glasses of wine with everyone from publishing colleagues you only see once a year to members of your own team are always inspiring and invigorating and almost always lead to you doing something differently when you get back to your office.
Paul Neilan, Sales Manager: Somewhere not called "here" is always good, but when it’s coming down with publishers from the four corners of the world it doesn’t get much better. You can feast your eyes on the amazing range of subjects, formats, colours, jackets, display material and stands. It’s publishing heaven.
Heading to the airport I was able to enjoy WH Smith’s great display of Cop-On along with our Pocket History of Ireland and our other great tourist titles.
I had a few appointments with publishers we represent in Ireland and time in between to cruise the aisles for inspiration, chance meetings, even a free shoulder massage. If only they did feet too! It’s great to meet with our agency publishers and look at autumn’s forthcoming titles, discuss what’s happening in our market and generally catch up, as we don’t meet face to face very regularly.
The fair also has its challenges. It’s a really long day. I left home at 5am and didn’t get back until after 9pm. My Oyster Card failed to top-up and I missed a connection while I extracted myself form the rush hour commuter crowds and duelled with a ticket machine to sort it out. Food is always interesting when you are dashing between appointments – lots of expensive sugar and carbs available coupled with water that makes fuel costs look amazingly good value.
It was a good day which will result in some great sales opportunities for 2015. Roll on Frankfurt.
Deirdre Nolan, Commissioning Editor: The London Book Fair is both exhausting and exhilarating. On the first day I arrived fresh from a red-eye flight, and spent the rest of the day in a gentle fog of almost overwhelming inspiration. At one point I turned a corner and bumped into a very familiar and unique face – there before me was Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst in all her bearded glory, looking as fabulous as ever.
By the second day the fog had cleared, and I could really appreciate my surroundings. While Frankfurt Book Fair is simply vast, London is more focused and easier to navigate, making it a better experience in many ways. It’s also more relaxed, so that half-hour business meetings can turn into long, leisurely but informative chats over endless cups of tea.
So what did I learn from this year’s fair? That beards look really good with long hair and a stylish dress. I’ve decided to try and grow one myself – wish me luck!
Chris Carroll, Trade Sales Representative: A fantastic trip as always. I met everyone I wanted to meet and did all the business I needed to do, all in one building, with customers whose home bases were up to 12,000 miles apart. But the real highlights? I was entranced by the significant hare population wandering around the Dublin Airport carpark. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number and quality of coffee shops in Clapham Junction train station – and the fact that one of them served me the nicest flat white and most delectable pastel de nata I’ve had outside of Portugal.
I’m still stunned every year by the gargantuan stands of the behemoths – the Penguin Random House stand must have had 200 people meeting on it at any given time. I’m bemused when a focus country, this year Mexico, has a similarly leviathan stand with about three people on it. But Surprise of the Year 2015 goes to the teensy tiny stand of the London Stereoscopic Company (yes, there is such a thing!) which impressed me by featuring elderly wizard aging rocker Brian May in person!
Heading home, tired but fulfilled, I stopped in Clapham Junction for a repeat visit to gastronomic heaven, and maybe it was all that sugar that caused me to “lose” my car when I got home to QuickPark – I wandered around in the dark with the hares for about twenty minutes until I eventually located my car, ten rows away from where I was convinced I’d left it!