For decades, the London Book Fair has been the primary showcase for the English-language publishing industry, with no equivalent in size or import anywhere in the world. This year’s event, set to run March 12–14 at Olympia London, is looking to be something of a return to form after a pandemic lull. Attendance at last year’s fair was nearly all the way back to 2019 levels, organizers say, and anticipation is building for an even stronger event in 2024.

Gareth Rapley, director of the London Book Fair, tells PW that the fair’s efforts to reach beyond the traditional book business to London’s many creative, book-adjacent industries—such as film, TV, and tech—have established it as “the right place to open up business conversations far beyond the publishing sector itself.” And while the American contingent was slow to come back to London in the wake of the pandemic, registrations from the U.S. are up this year.

“We’re expecting a strong showing of Americans,” Rapley confirms, adding that a strong dollar is helping.

Indeed, the fair’s day-one programming has a noticeable American presence this year. Among the highlights: the opening keynote will feature Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp; Association of American Publishers president and CEO Maria A. Pallante will take part in a discussion about artificial intelligence; and American author Taylor Jenkins Reid, whose sales have been boosted by TikTok and last year’s Apple TV+ adaptation of her novel Daisy Jones and the Six, is serving as the fair’s International Author of the Day.


In addition to more American participation in 2024, Rapley says this year’s fair will also see greater numbers from another key constituency that was im-pacted by pandemic restrictions: Chinese publishers and exhibitors. “We are seeing a significant increase in people coming from Asia, which is going to be a big priority for our growth in the coming years.”

Several other changes will be evident in 2024—most prominently, the fair’s new dates. Usually held in mid-
April, the London Book Fair has moved up to mid-March. And while many attendees may be dreading the rainy weather in London in March, there are some clear advantages to the switch.

“The fact that we are now effectively the first major international fair on the publishing calendar lets us set the tone for industry discussions the rest of the year,” Rapley says. “It means that for publishing professionals, especially those working in English, we are a can’t-miss event.”

The London Book Fair’s Olympia home is also in the midst of a major makeover—part of an ambitious £1 billion plan to turn the 137-year-old landmark into a glittering cultural hub. When finished, the Olympia will include an updated exhibit space, two hotels, a 1,500-seat theater, and a 1,000-seat performing arts venue. But some London Book Fair attendees last year bemoaned the fact that parts of the Olympia felt like a hard-hat zone.

That we are now effectively the first major
international fair on the publishing calendar lets us set the tone for industry discussions.

“We’re doing our very best with the venue, which poses challenges,” Rapley says. But he promises better organization and more comfort at this year’s fair.

Programs and exhibits

As always, the London Book Fair will feature a busy show floor with roughly 1,000 exhibitors and a strong and varied professional program. The 2024 seminar program features hundreds of speakers, presentations, and panel discussions addressing the hot topics in the international book business on numerous stages over the fair’s three days.

Rapley notes that the fair’s most popular venues are all returning, including the Tech Theatre, the Sustainability Hub, the Focus Theatre, Author HQ, and the English PEN Salon. There’s also a new Audio Alley (a dedicated space for audio exhibitors) and an International Markets Theater. The Literary Translation Center will also return with a diverse program featuring discussions on trends in literary translation, including the rise in self-translation by bilingual poets and more.

A host of great authors will also be featured in London. In addition to Jenkins Reid, the program includes appearances by bestselling crime writer Richard Osman, U.K. children’s laureate Joseph Coelho, and Flavia Z. Drago, who is serving as illustrator of the fair. As well, many of the authors at this year’s fair have found success on social media—among them clinical psychologist Julie Smith, a TikTok star with 4.7 million followers, and Steven Bartlett, a podcaster with more than five million subscribers on YouTube.

“Writers are the reason we do what we do,” Rapley says. “And the London Book Fair is a unique opportunity for visitors to see and hear these authors in person, getting unique insights into the way they write, think, and create.”

More coverage of the 2024 London Book Fair

Rights Center Central
At this year’s London Book Fair, U.S. agents will be talking up works by Richard Price, H.S. Cross, Riley Sager, Sylvester Stallone, and more. This year, submissions will remain open through the opening of the fair on March 12.

The Rights Stuff
U.S. agents expect romantasy to be hot, debut fiction not.

Program Highlights
A selection of the more than 150 panels and discussions featured on tap in the fair’s Seminar Program, including sessions on AI, audiobooks, BookTok, DEI, and the freedom to read and publish.