The London Book Fair will be an all-virtual, online-only event this year, with events that will bookend the month of June, with conferences taking place the week of June 7, and a further series of flagship digital events will run June 29-July 1, the dates the in-person fair was to be held. The organizers had held out hope that moving the fair from its customary spring dates to the summer would allow them to hold in-person events. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has made that an impossibility.

“Over the last few months, we have explored every scenario for this year’s Fair with our exhibitors, stakeholders and Advisory Board," said Andy Ventris, director of the London Book Fair, in a press release. "Given the complex challenges and constraints of the global pandemic, we wanted to give as much notice as possible to exhibitors and attendees while making the best possible decision for the publishing industry. With the continued uncertainty around international travel and vaccination rollouts, it has become apparent that an in-person Fair for 2021 would not be able to offer the full value to participants that we want to deliver."

Exhibitors can use a portion of their fees paid for the in-person fair for an online exhibit during this year's fair or else they may roll them over to 2022, when the fair is scheduled to take place April 5-7.

Ventris underscored that this year's event, dubbed The Online Book Fair," will be taken seriously and offer "real value" and will be marketed to the international trade, not just publishers and affiliates in the U.K. "We want to do whatever we can to support the international publishing trade as we transition to a post-pandemic environment and The Online Book Fair will allow us to do that this year, but we look forward to celebrating the resilience and creativity of our industry with you all in-person at the 2022 Fair in London.”

Commensurate with the move to online, this year's event will be free of charge for attendees.

The organizers said that more information and a schedule of events will be available in the coming weeks.