London Book Fair: Details of Its Digital Seminars

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Normally the first annual major publishing trade show of the year, London Book Fair is ironically the last to join its sister events online.

London Book Fair 2018 at Olympia London. Image: LBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Seminar Programming Starts June 21
As Bologna Children’s Book Fair announces the closure of its 2021 online edition today (June 17), citing 75,000 visitors, London Book Fair becomes our next player in world publishing’s Endless Summer: The Digital Cut. London starts Monday (June 21).

Today’s announcement from the United Kingdom is about what regular attendees of the trade show know as the “Insight Seminars,” that series of rolling panels, presentations, speeches, and so on, expertly curated by Helen Griffith and Hannah Brewer, and normally running in the background of the floor exhibition and the rights center’s business all week.

This time, you’ll find these events offered from Monday (June 21) to July 1 in London’s expanded dates. Seminar programming is to be available for your review until July 16.

Yomi Adegoke

An opening address is to stream the author Yomi Adegoke, who with Elizabeth Uviebinené is the author of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible (4th Estate), on topics in diversity in publishing.

In addition, today’s announcement references some two dozen events, and you can find the complete listings at the site here.

While you’re there, you’ll find registration opportunities here. (Registration to the basic fair events is free, recordings of the four pre-show conferences can be had for £75 each (US$104.50).

Selected Seminar Events

All times listed are BST, British Summer Time, which is GMT+1.

June 22

Martin Klopstock

Sustainability from the Publisher’s Perspective, 11:10-11:35

  • Stephen Lotinga, Publishers Association
  • Siena Parker, Penguin Random House
  • Thea Sherer, Springer Nature
  • Helen Griggs, Cambridge University Press
  • Martin Klopstock, Kogan Page

Julie Belgrado

How Has Brexit Impacted the Bookselling Trade So Far?, 12:15-12:40

  • Julie Belgrado, European and International Booksellers Federation
  • Elda Lamberti, Gardners
  • Tomás Kenny, Kennys Bookshop, Galway
  • Jan Smedh, The English Bookshop, Uppsala

Rob Wijeratna

Licensing: How To Build a Brand From a Book, 13:25- 14:25

  • Ryan Beaird, Imaginators
  • Thomas Merrington, Penguin Ventures
  • Rob Wijeratna, Rocket Licensing
  • Rebecca French, The Roald Dahl Story Company
  • Lauren Sizeland, Victoria and Albert Museum

June 23

Justine Solomons

Quick, Quick, Slow: What Have Been the Technological Changes in Publishing This Year?, 13:30 – 14:30.

  • Justine Solomons, Byte The Book
  • Simon Appleby, Bookswarm
  • Mark Stay, Bestseller Experiment
  • Hermione Ireland, Académie du Vin Library

June 24

Sarah Odedina

Closing the Gap: Why Access to Books Matters for Children Around the World, 09:30 – 10:10

  • Bodour Al Qasimi, International Publishers Association
  • Sarah Odedina, Pushkin Children’s Books
  • Pam Dix, IBBY UK
  • Alison Tweed, Book Aid International
  • Aita Brahmachari, writer

Sanphy Thomas

Leading the Way in Book Publishing, 13:45 – 14:25

  • Laura Summers, BookMachine
  • Lance Fitzgerald, Penguin Random House Audio
  • Bodour Al Qasimi, International Publishers Association
  • Sanphy Thomas, Kingsley Publishers
  • Belinda Rasmussen, Macmillan Children’s Books

Young Adults: Improving Mental Health and Well-Being Through Fiction, 14:00 – 14:40

  • Anthony Kessel

    Professor Anthony Kessel, author

June 25

Playing with Prose: Plot, Character, Setting, 10:15 – 11:00

  • Helen Bryant, Cornerstone Literary Consultancy
  • Magdalene Abraha, Jacaranda
  • Michael Arditti, Arcadia Books

Valerie Brandes

Championing Black Voices and Stories, Past, Present and Future, 16:35 – 17:15

  • Valerie Brandes, Jacaranda
  • Magdalene Abraha, Jacaranda
  • Anni Domingo, Jacaranda
  • Isabelle Dupuy, novelist

June 30

Writers at Risk: Publishing and the Duty of Care, 09:15 – 09:55.

  • Daniel Gorman, English PEN

Closing the Translation Gap: Translating in a Second or Additional Language, 09:40 – 10:10

  • Marta Dzuirosz, translator
  • Jenna Tang, American Literary Translators Association
  • Kavita Bhanot, ECR Leverhulme Fellow, Leicester University

Arabic Literature in Translation, 11:30 -12:10

  • Alexandra Büchler, Literature Across Frontiers
  • Sandra Hetzl
  • Maria Pakkala

Who Gets to Translate? Who Gets to Be Translated?, 14:15 – 14:45

  • Will Forrester, English PEN
  • Nicholas Glastonbury, translator
  • Ka Bradley
  • Margaux Vialleron

July 1

  • The Green Book Alliance: Making the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals a Reality, 11:00 – 12:00
  • Karina Urquhart, Book Industry Communication
  • Sherri Aldis, United Nations Publications
  • Noah Genner, BookNet Canada
London Book Fair: Glad You Can Join Us

One of the ironies of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on world publishing is the odd fluke of timing that has caused London Book Fair—usually the first, joyful big trade-show event of the international book business each year—to be the last such major event to join its sister shows online.

This venerable and hugely popular industry-facing event, normally drawing 20,000 or more professional players to Olympia London, was the first major trade show to have to cancel (March 4, 2020) in the original onslaught of the pathogen. And that was exactly the right move. As we know now, plans for hand sanitizer and abandoning hand-shaking would not have protected the show’s thousands of trade visitors from the exchange of air that science would soon learn is the overriding mechanism of COVID-19 transmission.

Other major events have subsequently mounted extensive, ubiquitous digital programs. Among the annual anchor trade shows making the flight-to-digital have been Frankfurter Buchmesse; the Beijing International Book Fair (its second digital evocation is in August, for international exhibitors and trade visitors); and Bologna Children’s Book Fair (twice—it’s concluding today).

But London Book Fair, caught in an odd point on the annual calendar, is actually the last of the big shows to mount a digital version of itself.

That may account for two interesting phenomena:

  • First time out: You’ll recall that London has been widening its footprint on the calendar. Initially, it announced June 29 to July 1. But it’s added events, such as a series of digitally done conferences in the week of June 7 (as Bologna did), and then these seminar-series events we’re highlighting today. While the rest of the industry is a bit staggered from what one seasoned veteran this week has called “gazillions of hours of programming,” London Book Fair is making its maiden digital voyage.
  • The mode of the industry: You’ll see London Book Fair calling itself “The Online Book Fair.” Logos and all. We’ve inquired about this, and helpful spokespeople at Midas tell us that “The Online Book Fair” is being used “to demonstrate that it is distinct from the usual London Book Fair offering,” and to point out that it’s “a truly global event,” in that it can be accessed online from anywhere, while it normally stands physically in London. Of course, Frankfurt was still called Frankfurt as 200,000 people from many parts of the world looked in; Bologna was still Bologna (both times); Beijing is still Beijing (both times); and Sharjah will be full-on Sharjah in the autumn, just as it was last autumn, the only major book industry trade show in the world to have continued with physical presentations through the pandemic.

Needless to say, the typical quality and character of London Book Fair promise an event well worth the industry’s attention, even if most of its participants are likely to be more experienced in the ways of online publishing events than is the company itself.

You can catch a sense of this in a gentle 40-second video that London posted on May 7 to explain rather that things won’t be quite the same.


More from Publishing Perspectives on London Book Fair is here, and more from us on the United Kingdom’s market is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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