Two years after Covid-19 forced a last-minute cancellation of the 2019 London Book Fair, four of America’s Big Five publishers will be sending small delegations to the fair, which runs Tuesday–Thursday, April 5–7, at Olympia London.
Penguin Random House will not have anyone from the U.S. in London and is leaving its participation at the event to its U.K. subsidiary, although U.S. employees in certain departments will work with their U.K. colleagues. “We are looking forward to returning to an in-person London Book Fair this year, with a strong contingent from across Penguin Random House U.K. attending,” a spokeswoman says.
Representatives from the other four major New York publishers stressed that those going to London will do so on a voluntary basis. “We have 10 people attending from the U.S., with representatives from publishing, subsidiary rights, and sales,” an S&S spokeswoman says. “All attendance, whether from the U.S. or our U.K. company, is on an entirely optional, voluntary basis. We are appreciative of the steps and measures LBF has put in place to maintain the health and safety of our staff and the publishing community, and look forward to productive, in-person meetings with colleagues from around the world.”
Macmillan Trade US will be attending the fair in a limited fashion, a spokeswoman confirms. The contingent will include individuals from rights and editorial, who are attending the fair at their discretion, she adds.
Hachette Book Group’s publishers will have a small contingent at LBF this year, a spokeswoman says. The HBG rights team, she adds, “will stay closely connected through video meetings with publishers and coagents in the weeks leading up to the fair, and will be making separate trips to London after the fair.”
HarperCollins is sending a small group of volunteers to LBF, a spokeswoman says.
The American Collective Stand/Combined Book Exhibit, which typically organizes one of the largest exhibits at LBF, will bring 22 companies and about 75 people (including some U.K. colleagues) to Olympia, says ACS/CBE’s Janet Fritsch. Fritsch adds that she hopes the in-person Bologna Children’s Book Fair (held March 21–24), followed by LBF, “will continue the trend of international book fairs becoming, once again, part of everyone’s yearly schedule. The need for personal interaction is essential in this business, and the publishers and companies participating with ACS/CBE at LBF 2022 are attending for the same reason.”
Some of ACS/CBE’s participating companies are Fox Chapel Publishers, Inner Traditions International, Mango Publishing, and WTA Media. Some companies, Fritsch notes, are sending more people to the fair than usual. She adds that while Ingram Content Group will not be sending its whole U.S. contingent, “they will be very well represented at LBF this year.”
Independent publishers contacted by PW expressed mixed feelings about traveling to London. Kensington Publishing CEO Steve Zacharius says he still isn’t comfortable sending staff overseas, but he expects to be going to the Frankfurt Book Fair this fall. Sourcebooks will be conducting virtual meetings as it has for the past two years, publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah says. The company is monitoring trends and is “hopeful to resume international travel in the very near future,” she adds.
Chronicle Books president Tyrrell Mahoney will be in London with publisher Christine Carswell. The Chronicle team will be operating without a base: it has no stand, and a last-minute effort to buy a rights table came up empty since the tables were sold out. At the fair, Mahoney and Carswell plan to meet with European publishers to both buy and sell rights, as well as with some customers. “It does sound like the turnout will be strong, with a good deal of pent-up interest in seeing both people and books in person,” Mahoney says.
Cynthia Sherry, publisher of Chicago Review Press, will attend her first show since the pandemic began when she makes the trip to London. Sherry notes that while some of the people and companies that have traditionally gone to London won’t be there, she still has set up “plenty of appointments.” Also making the trip is CRP sister company IPG, which will be represented by CEO Joe Matthews, Brooke O’Donnell of Trafalgar Square Press, and Paul Murphy, v-p, managing director of IPG’s academic and professional publishing program. It will be the first LBF for the distribution company since its acquisition last year of U.K.-based United Independent Distributors.
Seven Stories Press publisher Dan Simon will be in London for just two days of meetings since many of the publisher’s contacts are not making the trip. “It feels weird to be going, with the war in Ukraine raging just two days’ drive to the east,” Simon notes.