After the London Book Fair was canceled just a week before the event was to take place in 2020, LBF is back again—albeit in a web-only format. The fair spans the month of June, with conferences taking place the week of June 7 and a further series of flagship digital events to run June 21–July 1.
LBF kicks off this year with four days of single-topic conferences: “Introductions to Rights” on June 7, “The Writer’s Summit” on June 8, “What Works? Education Conference” on June 9, and “Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum” on June 10. The fair will then reconvene on June 21 and 22 for talks and panels, including Industry Insights sessions focused on publishing issues. On June 23, tech takes center stage with “Digital Technology: What’s Next for Publishing,” and the June 24 program will highlight children’s books and edutainment, as well as scholarly publishing and human resources development.
The week of June 29 will feature conversations with winners of the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards (see “LBF’s International Excellence Award Winners,” p. 26), and a separate track of events will be available for authors and translators. July 1, the final day of the online fair, will offer insights into the book business from the bookseller perspective.
In total, there will be approximately 80 seminars at this year’s LBF, compared with the more than 200 that might take place during an in-person fair. Attendance is free, and after the festival’s conclusion on July 1, content will remain available for streaming until July 16.
“We’re not trying to replicate the London Book Fair you might attend in person,” says Andy Ventris, who was appointed managing director of the fair in November 2020, following the departure of Jacks Thomas earlier in the year. “In the past few months we have had conversations with partners and clients, and we understand the situation and the position we find ourselves in now. We think that there will be new and different opportunities for attendees experiencing the fair online.”
Ventris says the expectation is that the online conference and seminars will attract a broader international audience than they might have had they been held in person.
The LBF has long been considered the primary venue for trading in English-language book rights, but it has opted not to offer a digital alternative for its literary agents center this year. “Speaking with agents and rights directors these past few months has made it clear to us that many of those conversations have already happened,” Ventris explains. “Still, we see this as an opportunity for people to make new connections and pursue new opportunities for selling.”
Another traditional area of focus for the LBF is literary translation, and the fair typically runs a series of events at its popular literary translation center, which it is bringing online. Unlike in previous years, there will be no market focus country for 2021. The United Arab Emirate of Sharjah will serve as the market focus in 2022.
Ventris, 33, is a newcomer to the industry. His previous role with Reed Exhibitions, which runs the London Book Fair, was directing trade fairs for the luxury travel business in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Looking ahead, he says it’s likely the LBF will have some virtual elements in 2022, when it plans to return to an in-person show. “While there are a huge amount of people who want to get back to face-to-face meetings and get back together in person, others have adapted their businesses to working online,” he notes. “We do know one thing for sure: everyone we have spoken to in publishing says trade fairs remain a key element of how they do business. Whether things fully open up in six months or two years, we’ll be here..”
Below, more on the London Book Fair.
The London Book Fair International Excellence Award Winners
The annual prizes honor the best of the global publishing industry
Online at the London Book Fair
Below are some highlights of this year’s events. For further information go to londonbookfair.co.uk.