London Book Fair Names Main Stage Speakers

In News by Porter Anderson

Three days of high-level issue-driven programming at London Book Fair is set for the Main Stage series in April.

In the Pillar Room, a venue at Olympia London being used for a second year in 2023 for London Book Fair’s Main Stage events. Image: Olympia London

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

Rapley: ‘Industry Big Hitters’
Today (February 1), organizers of London Book Fair (April 18 to 20) have announced details of an extensive Main Stage series of events, just as registration opens for this year’s iteration of the fair.

Now referred to primarily as the Main Stage, the space at Olympia London is known as the Pillar Room. A comparatively elegant part of the complex, it was pressed into service in 2022 as extensive renovations of Olympia began, a series of upgrades and expansions that will continue to upgrade the convention site’s structure and amenities in the next couple of years.

One 0f the advantages of the Pillar Room/Main Stage space is that it’s contained, with its own doors, making it a stage venue with controllable sound features, rather than one of many stages that are set up—as at many trade shows and book fairs—amid the noise of the exhibition floor.

In a prepared statement on the release today of the Main Stage programming for this year’s London show, the fair’s director Gareth Rapley is quoted, saying, “The Main Stage was a popular addition to last year’s fair, and I’m delighted that we’re able to deliver another exciting and extensive selection of discussions to London Book Fair 2023.

“We’re honored this year,” he says, “to present a selection of industry big hitters, ranging from international publishing organizations to indie publishers, multi-million selling authors, book retailers, and media executives. The Main Stage will be an opportunity for not-to-be-missed debate and discussion, and we’re looking forward to hearing the insights and innovations of this world-leading array of speakers.”

The Main Stage programming devised by conference manager Mariana Barrios and her team follow an issue-driven dynamic, bringing book publishing’s pressure points and potentials into focus with the comments of seasoned practioners and influencers.

Tuesday, April 18

Headining the sequence of Main Stage events this year is Brian Murray, the president and CEO of HarperCollins publishers, who will be “in conversation” on the Main Stage on Tuesday April 18 at 10:30 a.m., an opening keynote for the week’s programming.

Following that:

11.30 a.m. to 12.15 p.m.

Karine Pansa

Global Outlook and Value of the Publishing Industry

12.30 to 1:15 p.m.

Colson Whitehead

In conversation with the ‘international author of the day,’ Colson Whitehead

1:30 to 2:15 p.m
The Cost of Doing Business: What is the Precise Focus?

With rising costs in both supply chain and day to day living, what might be the impact of the recession on pricing and book sales? This session will address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on writers and how the book industry can support the writing talent during this challenging scenario.

  • Hazel Broadfoot, president, the Booksellers Association
  • Nigel Wyman, sales and marketing director, Gardners Books
  • Further speakers to be confirmed
  • Chaired by: Publishers Weekly

2:30 to 3:15 p.m.

Maria A. Pallante

Copyright in a Global Context: Current Threats and Emerging Issues

Copyright laws and intellectual property rights vary in different countries. How is the legislation changing across the world, with legal challenges on different continents? What are the expectations of the industry? What can the industry do to encourage free expression and copyright? “Copyright exhaustion”: what does mean for the industry? Topics explored will range from intellectual property framework copyright agreements in a post-Brexit Britain to new regulations currently impacting South Africa and the region.

3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
Book to Film: Leveraging the Battle for the Attention Economy

  • Hannah Griffiths, head of literary acquisitions, All3Media
  • Danny West, script editor, Kudos
  • Chaired by: Emily Hayward-Whitlock, head of lit and book to film, the Artists Partnership
Wednesday, April 19

11 to 11:45 a.m.

Dapo Adeola

In Conversation with the illustrator of the fair, Dapo Adeola

The illustrator, author, and character designer will be in conversation with Kelechi Okafor.

12 to 12:45 p.m.
 Sustainability in Books Publishing:What has Been Achieved to Date and What Still Needs to be Done?

Rachel Martin

This session will explore strategic views on sustainable publishing – lessons learned, best practices & future actions. The discussion will focus on concrete actions and ways to work together to minimise the input of resources across the whole supply chain, including the advancements of a bespoke ‘Carbon Calculator’ to help industry tackle climate change.

  • Rachel Martin, global director of sustainability, Elsevier
  • Amanda Ridout, founding CEO of Boldwood Books, chair of the IPG Sustainability Action Group
  • Chaired by: Ashley Gordon, publishing market development manager leader, HP

1 to 1:45 p.m

Perminder Mann

Celebrating Inclusivity and Representation in the Book and Publishing World

How do we inspire and connect with young readers to embrace inclusivity and diversity through the voices and stories we read?

  • Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books
  • Meryl Halls, managing director, the Booksellers Association
  • Kate Wilson, CEO, Nosy Crow
  • Irum Fazal, founder, Asian Women Writers

3 to 3:45 p.m.

Suzanne Colliers

Is the Publishing Industry an Attractive Workplace for the Generation of Tomorrow?

  • Suzanne Collier, career development and publishing consultant,
  • A senior representative of the Society of Young Publishers
  • Suzy Astbury,managing director, Digital and Print Publishing Recruitment

4 to 4:45 p.m.
Indie Publishing: The Creative Heart of the Industry

  • Iain Millar, managing director, Canelo Publishing (commercial fiction)
  • Matt Haslum, managing director, Chelsea Green Publishing (non-fiction books on progressive politics and sustainable living)
  • Ebony Lyon, managing director, Formy Books (inclusive children’s publisher)
  • Valerie Brandes, founder, Jacaranda Books (diversity-led fiction publisher)
  • Chaired by: Sam Missingham, founder, the Empowered Author
Thursday, April 20

11 to 11:45 a.m.
Global Market Size and Trends: Championing the Hits in the Industry and Beyond

  • A senior spokesperson from Nielsen Data

12 to 12:45 p.m

Sanphy Thomas

The Power of the Written Word: What can the Book Industry Do to Address Key Social Topics?

What is the role of the Book industry in using the power of the written word to address key society topics? This conversation will range across topics such as addressing mental health and reflecting on a more inclusive society, to achieving sustainable society and Net Zero 2050 goals.

  • Sanphy Thomas, managing director, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Jasmine Richards, founder, Storymix
  • Leah Hernandez,  CEO, Young Authors Publishing

1 to 1:45 p.m.
In Conversation With the ‘children’s author of the day,’ Robin Stevens

2 to 3:30 p.m.

Tom Burgis

The Freedom to Publish: Authors and Publishers Fighting SLAPPs and Censorship

This session, delivered by the International Publishers Association, the Publishers Association, English PEN and PEN International, will focus on the use of libel laws and SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) to intimidate authors and publishers into self-censorship and the importance of the work to defend freedom of expression. Starting with the case studies of two high-profile books published by HarperCollins UK – Putin’s People by Catherine Belton and Kleptopia by Tom Burgis – the session will also examine the risks in other countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

The IPA will announce the shortlist for the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire.

  • Tom Burgis, author (United Kingdom)
  • Simon Dowson-Collins, general counsel & company secretary, HarperCollins UK
  • Jeronimo Pimentel, director general, Penguin Random House Peru
  • Judha Su, a founding editor & publisher, soi squad (Thailand)
  • Tanja Tuma, president, PEN Slovenia, PEN International trustee

More from Publishing Perspectives on London Book Fair is here, more on rights trading in the international marketplace is here, our Rights Roundup series is here, more on licensing is here, more on academic and scholarly publishing is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, 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.