On Tuesday I attended, for the first time the London Book Fair. I went in, as I do with any new event, very nervous and intrigued about what I would find. Even without attending previous years, I knew the book fair was unusually quiet with a lot of booth signs reading the generic ‘because of the flight disruptions we have been unable to attend’
I walked around aimlessly with great intrigue and loved seeing some familiar faces from Twitter. I think the most impressive booth was of course Usborne with its giant yellow castle. I think it’s important to represent the publisher through the use of visuals in each booth, because to the unknowing observer that is what attracts.
I was warned by a contact beforehand that some publishers consider their stands semi-private and it was obvious which ones those were. Some titles you could browse at ease, but other required going into their space and starting a conversation. I was not approached by anyone during my time there, but I did take the time to talk to a few people and made some contacts.
I walked round the digital section too as no longer can we deny that it doesn’t belong in publishing. It was only tonight really, (don’t ask me why) that the relationship between publishing and the digital really successfully co-existed. I made contact with a publisher via Twitter who has posted a great, honest blog post about the book fair which can be found at http://druceydrama.blog.co.uk/2010/04/21/a-book-fair-revelations-and-a-quest-to-find-miss-f-8422618/ She has been very kind in offering me advice. I stopped to take count of the scope of availability digitalisation has given us. It isn’t something we should deny or begrudgingly adapt to, rather we should made the digital age work for us. We should be able to overcome the fears of how the ebooks and iPad will work for children’s publishing. We should use forces to be reckoned with such as Twitter to promote, market and launch books. We should recognise that the relationship between a book and its reader is no longer just words and attention; but strategic artistic creations and readers.
In the digital age, the reader is no longer just a consumer of the words but a creator of the words. They drive the sales, the reception of a book and influence what comes next. The internet tells us If you liked…, you’ll love. We shouldn’t underestimate the digital age of publishing. Of course, I take a very naive stance on it as I don’t have the technological nor business experience to understand the implications of these developments. But I know that publishing can become really strong again if we recognise that the physical feel of a book in our hands can work alongside a touch screen iPad, and I for one am really excited to see how publishers will overcome the difficulties these new developments propose. It’s a trying time for publishing but hey, when is it not?
So it’s become clear that my musings on LBF 2010 have taken a very 21st century turn. I’m just writing what I saw, and what I saw gave me excitement and great anticipation for when I can finally put my input into the publishing industry.