The American presence at the annual London Book Fair in March continues to expand, with 21 new exhibitors already signed up for the 2003 show, which starts March 16, and a U.S. presence that takes up 25% of the space in the International Rights Center.

The growing American interest is part of a growth trend in international participation, as space booked by international publishers at the Olympia exhibition halls in West London is up by nearly 30% over last year. As usual by this time, the fair is almost fully booked, and the Rights Center, expanded last year to take up the entire balcony, has no more room, with nearly 300 tables assigned to editors, agents and scouts from around the world. That total includes 19 American companies taking tables for the first time.

This brings up the question of how long the Olympia halls can contain the burgeoning show, but, according to exhibition director Alistair Burtenshaw, a contract keeps it there until at least 2005. Although London attendance continues to grow, while that at the fall Frankfurt fair has leveled off in the past couple of years, Burtenshaw sees the two shows as complementary, and noted that LBF works with Frankfurt, and with other significant international shows, to exchange lists and cross-promote.

There are a couple of new developments at the 2003 show worthy of note. There are new zones on the exhibition floor for art and architecture publishers, travel and maps, and Christian publishers; U.S. publishers Princeton Architectural Press, D.A.P. and Powerhouse are taking space in the first, the Evangelical Society in the last. And, as part of the fair's outreach to consumers (who are not, however, admitted to the show floor), there will be a series of opening-day master classes, to be conducted by leading practitioners, on children's fiction, biography and autobiography, and TV and film scriptwriting.

As before, there will be an ePub London conference, concentrating this time on practical applications rather than strategic thinking, and a rights symposium, which will focus on serial rights sales.