When looking at the show today, it is incredible to think that the first Fair was held in the basement of a hotel off London's Oxford Street, with 22 publishers exhibiting, writes Alistair Burtenshaw. Now 40 years on, the London Book Fair welcomes more than 1,600 exhibitors and 23,000 attendees annually.

The Fair evolves with the publishing industry, with new features regularly introduced; this year is no different. Following the extraordinary changes in the digital publishing landscape, LBF has doubled the size of the Digital Zone, and it should once again prove a popular destination for companies looking for solution partners. There will be 53 exhibitors from 14 countries showcasing digital solutions, from content management systems to

distributors, apps developers to ereader devices. We also have an expanded programme of digital seminars.

Reflecting the huge developments in children's publishing, the Fair is introducing a new Children's Innovation Zone. It includes a new theatre, on the show floor, dedicated to promoting exciting new ideas in children's publishing, by hosting a series of 15-minute presentations each day.

The Children's and Young Adult Publishing Zone is one of the largest zones and main seminar streams; it will feature 150 exhibitors with a further 450 general exhibitors offering children's content. We also have a fantastic line-up of leading children's writers at the Fair, including Philip Pullman, Roger McGough, Eoin Colfer, Francesca Simon, Lauren Child, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, Tony Bradman, Aidan Chambers, Beverley Naidoo, Frank Cottrell Boyce, INJ Culbard, Rob Davis and MG Harris.

The Market Focus initiative is now in its eighth year. Now an integral part of the Fair, it has done much to create commercial and cultural partnerships around the world since it was first introduced. It is pleasure to have Russia as the Market Focus in 2011, with more than 50 Russian companies representing all areas of publishing, including new digital technologies, in attendance. We are delighted to have worked with our partners – LBF's strategic partner the British Council, and The Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication and Academia Rossica as their official partner – to pull together such an impressive line-up of writers and academics for the Market Focus Cultural Programme. It will showcase a cross section of Russian literature, as is evident from the diversity of the speakers and events lined up, from poetry to science fiction, to award-winning novelists and contemporary Russian prose.

On behalf of the London Book Fair team at Reed Exhibitions, I would like to welcome you to the Fair, and wish you a successful, productive and enjoyable show!

Alistair Burtenshaw is Group Exhibition Director, the London Book Fair