Despite fears of the outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf, attendance at the London Book Fair, held March 16—18, rose 20%, counting 13,500 visitors overall, and 5,000 from outside the U.K. "I think everyone had concerns about the outcome of London given the geopolitical climate, and we were pleased to see our numbers despite that," Alistair Burtenshaw, director of the book fair, told PW. "To come out with such high attendance in that circumstance is brilliant, and it is a reflection of the support the publishing community gives us."

London's rights center has grown steadily over the years, and this year, Burtenshaw said, there were 393 tables, up 16% from 2002. More booksellers attended the fair as well, numbering more than 3,000. The biggest buzz of the fair was the possible acquisition of the AOL Time Warner Book Group by WH Smith (now off—see p. 19).

Situated six months from the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, LBF has sealed its place on the publishing calendar, a number of attendees told PW. A full report on the fair will appear in the April 14 issue.