Despite the huge monkey wrench the suddenly active Icelandic volcano put inmany Americans'(and some Europeans') plans to attend the London Book Fair, spirits amongboth attendees and those who stayed behind were relatively high. As many in theindustry noted, while doing business face-to-face is optimal, work can be doneremotely. And, of course, London isn't just about what the Americans brings tothe fair.
Carole Blake, an agent at the British-based Blake Friedmann, said thatAmericans are often "a rather light presence" at the fair anyway andthat she often does heavier business with them in Frankfurt, where they comeout in greater numbers. Nonetheless, she is bracing for the show to feelsomewhat like a ghost town. "It's estimated there will be at least 170empty publisher stands alone: goodness knows how many empty tables there willbe in the International Rights Center."
To get a sense of just how few Americans made it to LBF, Jon Malinowski,president of the American Collective Stand, said that "in approximatenumbers" about seven out of 100 ACS clients were able to get to London.
Agent Peter McGuigan, of Foundry Literary + Media, who was stuck in New Yorkafter his flight was delayed, said he thought the turn of events could spellnew tidings for another industry event—BEA. "They should begin marketingto the rights community ASAP and turn this year's BEA into the type ofimportant rights event it once was."
Brian DeFiore, of DeFiore and Company, said he was just writing LBF off atthis point. While he admitted that it was unfortunate he wouldn't make it tothe event, he pointed out, "the actual selling [of titles] usuallygoes on before and after [the fair]." Now, he added, it was just about"working harder remotely to get to know the personal idiosyncrasies thatoften determine who will buy what titles."
Joe Regal, of Regal Literary, hadn't planned to attend the fair and admittedthat, because his agency has an office in London, he was "less affectedthan most." Nonetheless, he saw the inability of so many to attend thefair as a hiccup for the industry, and not a disaster. "With two or threemajor fairs each year, and all the communication that's happening that didn'tused to happen, disappointing and weird are the words I'd use [for what'shappening]," he said.
For those who did make it across the pond, the surreal goings-on were more atopic of conversation than a glum reality. Sterling Lord's Ira Silverberg,who's in London, said the HarperCollins party, which happened on Friday night,was "lovely" and that there was "some American presence"but that "mostly the Dutch and French made it." When asked if he wasworried about getting back to the States, Silverberg quipped that a plan hadalready been hatched for the return home, via hot air balloon.
Richard Kallman, of Bookazine, was less flip about some unexpected optionsfor his trip back home. He said he and his colleague, who made it to London,are still unsure about when they can get back to the States, but they'rethinking outside the box, as it were, about travel options. "We areactually considering leaving from Southampton Port on Thursday aboard the QueenMary to arrive seven days later in the States."
For information about industry members' updated travel plans, click here.If you'd like to add your updated LBF schedule to the list, please contact JimMilliot at firstname.lastname@example.org.