Want to understand the forces impacting the global publishing industry in 2024 and beyond? Look no further than the London Book Fair’s Seminar Program, set to run March 12–14 at Olympia London. This year’s slate of events features industry leaders, experts, authors and A-listers and will explore hot topics including the rise of AI, the boom in digital audio, the influence of BookTok and social media, the translation market, copyright, threats to the freedom to read and publish, and geopolitical forces affecting the book world. What follows are highlights drawn from the conference program. For a full list, consult the London Book Fair website.

Tuesday, March 12

A New Generation of Readers: How BookTok is Diversifying Reading and Unifying Readers

Esther Fung, social media and marketing coordinator at PangoBook, and bookseller Léa Crumpton, both book influencers, will break down how BookTok and Bookstagram are changing reading habits, and offer tips on how to create one’s own successful accounts.

Opening Keynote: A Conversation with Jonathan Karp, President and CEO, Simon & Schuster

Main stage, 10:30-11 a.m. Jonathan Karp, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, will talk about the global publishing landscape and the future of the venerable publisher—which celebrates its centennial in April—in the wake of its recent acquisition by private equity firm KKR, in conversation with Publishing Perspectives’ Porter Anderson.

Publishers, Copyright & AI: Taking Action

Tech Theatre, 10:30–11 a.m. There is little debate that generative AI will change the publishing business. Here, scholarly publishers will weigh in on the intersection of publishing, copyright, and AI, including Claire Harper, head of global rights and licensing at Sage, and Sarah Fricker, group head of legal at the Institute of Physics, moderated by the Copyright Clearance Center’s Chris Kenneally.

Local Books, Global Trends: International Book Markets in 2023

International Markets Theatre, 11–11:45 a.m. Jackie Swope, senior account manager, book research for Nielsen BookData, will offer an overview of and key insights into the local and global factors driving varied book markets in 2023 using the combined data of U.K.-based Nielsen BookScan and GfK, Germany’s largest market research company.

Exploring the Ever-Evolving World of Publishing: Global Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Main stage, 11:15 a.m.–noon. In what is being billed as a debate by the program organizers, participants will explore the tension between the need to embrace digital innovation and the desire to preserve the essence of traditional publishing. Panelists include Karine Gonçalves Pansa, president, International Publishers Association; Ricardo Franco Levi, president, the Federation of European Publishers; Lawrence Njagi, president, African Publishers Network; and Youngsuk “YS” Chi, incoming chair of the Association of American Publishers, with moderation by PW’s Ed Nawotka.

Free Expression and Protecting the Right to Dissent

English PEN Literary Salon, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. This panel will explore the challenges facing publishers, festivals, and other literary entities as they work to protect free expression while fostering dialogue and making room for dissent within their organizations and audiences. Panelists include novelist and playwright Guy Gunaratne, Durham University professor Nick Barley, and Aki Schilz, director at the Literary Consultancy.

Keeping up with Social Media

Author HQ, noon–12:45 p.m. This panel will offer advice for authors seeking to make the most
of social media as a tool to promote their brand and their books. Panelists include Lisa Sharkey, executive director of creative development, HarperCollins; Ain Chiara Bensenouci, publishing consultant; Jojo Schlattner, senior social media manager, Penguin Random House UK; and Ashley Baugh, associate director, Midas PR.

Author of the Day: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Main stage, 12:15–1 p.m. The bestselling author of Carrie Soto Is Back and Daisy Jones and the Six will be in conversation with Leonel Teti, editorial director of Urano World for Spain and Latin America.

Sustainable Publishing 2030: Shaping the Future of an Eco-friendly and Ethical Industry

Main stage, 1:15–2 p.m. Panelists consider the impact of books and publishing on environment awareness, conservation, and sustainable lifestyles, as well as ways to champion inclusive storytelling. Panelists include Rachel Martin, global sustainability director, Elsevier; Piers Torday, author and chair, Society of Authors and Illustrators Sustainability Steering Committee; and Sherri Aldis, director, United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe.

Copyright and AI: A Global Discussion of Machines, Humans, and the Law

Main stage, 2:15–3 p.m. Industry leaders will explore the legal and ethical dimensions of
regulating the development and deployment of AI technology, including an advanced conversation about the risks and opportunities facing publishers and creators. Panelists include Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO, Association of American Publishers; Glenn Rollans, president and publisher, Brush Education Inc.; Nicola Solomon, CEO, Society of Authors; and Dan Conway, CEO, the Publishers Association, with moderation by Publishing PerspectivesPorter Anderson.

Palestine, Israel, and Free Expression in the U.K.

English PEN Literary Salon, 3–4 p.m. Participants will discuss how freedom of expression around Israeli occupation of Palestinain territory has become even more difficult following the recent escalation of violence in the region. Panelists include Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It; Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall; Yasmin El-Rifae, co-producer of the Palestine Festival of Literature; and Neve Gordon, professor of human rights and the laws of war at Queen Mary University of London.

The Marrakesh Treaty and Global Accessibility in Publishing

Main stage, 3:15–4 p.m. This session will discuss progress made in promoting accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in wake of the Marrakesh Treaty, which ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to literature and information. Panelists include Hugo Setzer, president, Mexican Publishers Association; Selina Mills, author and journalist; Claire Wade, author and founder, Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses; Anne Bergman-Tahon, director, Federation of European Publishers; and Jose Borghino, secretary general, International Publishers Association.

Cultural Resilience and the War in Ukraine

English PEN Literary Salon, 4:15–5:15 p.m. Ukrainian poet, essayist, and academic Iryna Starovoyt will discuss the importance of cultural resilience in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in conversation with English Pen’s Zoe Sadler.

English-Language Book Sales in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges

Main stage, 4:15–5 p.m. Sales of English-language books are rising fast in many European markets, fueled by BookTok and younger readers’ fluency in English. For trade publishers across Europe, this could be a boon. Panelists discussing the trend include David Graham, managing director of BT Batsford; Veen Bosch & Keuning CEO Geneviève Waldmann; and Rebecca Servadio, London Literary Scouting, with moderation by Andrea Joyce, Joyce Literary Rights Agency.

Wednesday, March 13

Evolution, Growth and Trends of the audio Industry Across Europe

Tech Theatre, 9:30–10 a.m. Spain-based industry analyst Javier Celaya, founder of
Dosdoce.com, will offer a look behind the first European Audio Industry Map, a resource designed to help publishing professionals navigate the wider audio market.

Keynote with Dr. Julie Smith

Main stage, 9:45–10:15 a.m. Clinical psychologist Julie Smith, whose 2022 debut Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? was a bestseller, will open the second day’s main stage program with a conversation with journalist Kat Brown. Smith will discuss how mental health issues impact authors and the creative sector, as well as her meteoric rise on TikTok, where she has more than 4.7 million followers.

Fear and Loathing in Translation

Literary Translation Center, 10–10:45 a.m. Translators are often champions for the texts they work on, but what happens when a project leaves a translator cold, especially when there are only a handful of translators working with a certain language? Here, translators discuss ways to handle the situation. Panelists include Mara Faye Lethem, Olivia Hellewell, Nashwa Nasreldin, and Sophie Lewis.

In-Car Audiobook Revolution

Tech Theatre, 10:15–10:45 a.m. Cars have become a haven where people consume audiobooks. This session will explore the burgeoning landscape of audiobooks as part of built-in car entertainment. Speakers to be announced.

Special In-Conversation with Steven Bartlett

Main stage, 10:30–11 a.m. Bartlett is an entrepreneur, author, and host of the popular U.K. podcast The Diary of a CEO. His most recent book is the bestselling The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business & Life.

The Next Chapter: AI in Audiobooks

Tech Theatre, 11–11:30 a.m. Hugo Rayne, of AI voice technology firm ElevenLabs, surveys how AI speech synthesis technology is revolutionizing storytelling.

Transforming the Future of the Written Word with Artificial Intelligence

Main stage, 11:15 a.m.–noon. This panel will discuss AI’s developing role in the publishing industry and its implications for content creation, including potential benefits and risks, how to use AI responsibly, and copyright issues. Panelists include Rebecka Isaksson, consultant for KnowFlow Value; Katie King, CEO, AI in Business; Kate Devlin, reader in AI and society at King’s College, London; and Bill Thompson, head of Public Value Research, BBC Research & Development, with moderation by journalist Kat Brown.

Audiobooks on Spotify: Innovating for the Future

Tech Theatre, 11:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Spotify v-p of audiobook product Owen Smith will lead a discussion about the company’s plans in the audiobook space and will offer insights on how Spotify’s audience is engaging with audiobooks since the streaming giant’s service launched last fall in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. Smith will be joined by Christina Calderone, Spotify senior manager for author success; Nia Beynon, sales and marketing director, Boldwood Books; and Daniel Orrett, lead writer and executive producer at sci-fi audio drama The Sojourn.

AI and Literary Translation

Literary Translation Centre, 12:10–12:55 p.m. This panel will focus on recent developments in computer-assisted literary translation, including the legal, ethical, and practical implications for literary translators. Panelists include James Hadley, assistant professor in literary translation, Trinity College, Dublin; Nicola Solomon, CEO, Society of Authors; Ayça Türkolu, literary translator; and Duncan Large, executive director, British Centre for Literary Translation.

Author of the Day: Richard Osman

Main stage,12:15–1 p.m. Osman, author of The Thursday Murder Club, The Man Who Died Twice, The Bullet That Missed, and The Last Devil to Die, will appear in conversation with author and journalist Elodie Harper.

Publishing and Politics

English PEN Literary Salon, 12:30–1:30 p.m. How should publishers, agents, authors, and readers engage with literature and authors in countries with poor human rights records or at the center of an active humanitarian crisis? Panelists lisa minerva luxx, writer and activist; Emma Shercliff; Ellah Wakatama; and Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN, will discuss.

The Future of Audio in Publishing: Global Trends and the Impact of AI

Main stage, 1:15–2 p.m. As digital audio continues to boom, publishers, distributors, and streamers weigh in on how high the ceiling might be, what effect emerging AI technology will have, and what the potential for international market growth is. Panelists include Michele Cobb, executive director, Audio Publishers Association; Helena Gustafsson, chief content officer, Storytel; Amanda D’Acierno, president and publisher, Penguin Random House Audio; Owen Smith, Spotify v-p, product and technology for audiobooks; Aurelie de Troyer, head of content, U.K. and Europe, Audible; and Videl Bar-Kar, v-p, audio, Bookwire.

X, Y, Z, A. Are we ready for Generation Alpha?

Focus Theatre, 2–2:45 p.m. LBF organizers say millennials will make up a large part of the fair’s attendee list in 2024, and here participants will discuss how publishers can be appealing employers and help employees thrive generational shifts. Panelists include Sharon Marshall HR manager, Bloomsbury; Lisa Waterman, group HR director, Hachette U.K.; Cassie Rocks, codirector, the FLIP; Javier Bajer, CEO, The Talent Foundation; and Suzy Astbury, managing director, Inspired Search & Selection.

Global Academic Panel: The Academic Publishing Landscape in 2030 and Beyond

Main stage, 2:15–3 p.m. Veterans of the academic publishing world offer insight into key topics such as open access, learning machines, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. Panelists include Antonia Seymour, CEO, IOP Publishing; Harsh Jegadeesan, chief publishing officer, Springer Nature; Jay Flynn, general manager, research and learning, Wiley; David Clark, managing director, academic division, Oxford University Press; and Richard Fisher, academic and policy correspondent, Independent Publishers Guild.

Voices Unheard: Addressing Inclusivity and Represen-tation in Publishing World

Main stage 3:15–4 p.m. This session will explore the importance of authentic storytelling and accurate representation, including the positive effects they have on readers of all backgrounds. Panelists include Natasha Carthew, writer/director, ClassFestival; Nelson Abbey, cofounder, Black Writers Guild; Stacy Scott, head of accessibility, Taylor and Francis, and chair, Accessibility Action Group of Publishers Association; and Diana Broccardo, managing director, Swift Press, with moderation by Publishing Perspectives’ Porter Anderson.

The Charles Clark Memorial Lecture: Perspectives on AI and IP

Focus Theatre, 4–6 p.m. Hayleigh Bosher, a reader in intellectual property law and associate dean at Brunel University in London who consults on AI copyright issues for the creative industries, and Eleonora Rosati, a lawyer and professor of intellectual property law at Stockholm University who regularly prepares technical briefings and expert opinions for E.U. institutions and agencies, consider how AI is affecting the IP landscape.

Celebrating London Book Fair’s Lifetime Achievement Awards

Main stage, 5–6:30 p.m. The annual awards reception honors an individual who has made a mark in the publishing world. This year’s honoree is YoungSuk “YS” Chi, chairman of Elsevier, director of corporate affairs for RELX, and recently elected chairman of the Association of American Publishers.

Thursday, March 14

Keynote Panel: SheEOs in Publishing, Women Pioneering the Pages

Main stage,10:20–11 a.m. Trailblazing women in the industry will discuss leadership, innovation, and the future of publishing. Panelists include Judith Curr, president and publisher of the HarperOne Group; Ameena Sayid, founder and managing director, Lightstone Publishers; and Bodour Al Qasimi, chairwoman of the Sharjah Book Authority and founder of Kalimat Group. The panel will begin with an announcement of shortlist nominees for the PublisHer Award.

Author of the Day: Joseph Coelho

Main stage, 11:15 a.m.–noon. Joseph Coelho, who was elected U.K. children’s laureate in 2022 and as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2023, will appear in conversation with BBC journalist, actor, and documentary filmmaker Greg McKenzie. Coelho’s books include the Luna Loves... series and the collections Overheard in a Tower Block and The Girl Who Became a Tree.

Writing Against Violence: Palestinian Literary Voices

English PEN Literary Salon, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Palestinian writers will consider the value of continuing to produce, share, and champion Palestinian culture and literature in the face of military bombardment. Participants include Elizabeth Briggs, Isabella Hammad, Hannah Khalil, and Rafeef Ziadah.

Creating a Culture of Reading for Pleasure

Main stage, 12:15–1:15 p.m. As the world turns ever more digital, it’s become increasingly important to champion reading as a source of pleasure for young people. But how best to do that? Panelists include Nicola Usborne, managing director, Usborne Publishing; Helen Freeman, director of Oxford Children’s at Oxford University Press; Cassie Chadderton, CEO, World Book Day; Jonathan Douglas, CEO, National Literacy Trust; Helenor Gilmour, director of insight and strategy, Beano Studios; and Kelechi Okafor, author and podcaster.

Diversity & Inclusion in Books: Have We Done Enough?

Main stage, 1:30–2:15 p.m. How far have the creative industries progressed in fostering diversity and inclusion, and what challenges must yet be addressed? Panelists include Michael Sheen, actor and philanthropist; Farrah Storr, head of writer partnerships, Substack; Tracey Markham, senior v-p, country manager, Audible; and authors Sunjeev Sahota and Katy Shaw.

Marketing Romance: BookTok’s Leading Genre

Tech Theatre, 1:30–2 p.m. Romance is BookTok’s leading genre. Panelists Georgia Henry, director, the Pitch Agency, and Genevieve Barratt, deputy head of marketing, Simon & Schuster, discuss how it happened and how publishers can make it work for them.

Authors and BookTok: Tips and Advice

Author HQ 1:45–2:30 p.m. This session will offer advice from content creators for authors wanting to make their mark on TikTok. Panelists include Joseph Hall, Amy May Andrawos, Anya Smith, and Zubs Malik.

A Trinity of Freedoms at Risk: Expression, Publishing, and Reading

Main stage, 2:30–3:45 p.m. Authors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians are all feeling the effects of the increasing number of threats to the freedom of expression, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read. What are the stakes, and where to go from here? Panelists include Tanja Tuma, interim international secretary, PEN International; Nick Poole, former CEO, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; Aziz Isa Elkun, researcher, SOAS, University of London; and Laura McCormack, Booksellers Association U.K., with moderation by the Guardian’s Claire Armitstead.