I spent Monday afternoon at the London Book Fair and, whatever else anyone tells you, it was buzzing. OK, so the buzz was mostly concentrated around the bigger name publishers with queues in particular at the HarperCollins, Orion and Penguin stands. Wiley was also very popular and Macmillan packed out with sales and rights people clustered head to head around tiny tables. If anything, it was the foreign language publishers who were quiet – I overheard one man aghast at the fact that the books on the Russian stand were, amazingly, mostly in Russian.
The International Rights Centre was similarly besieged with a constant flow up the escalators to its hallowed halls. One agent I spoke to, however, preferred to walk through the fair, meeting up with colleagues old and new on the way. This tactic had already yielded her an impromptu meeting which would almost certainly lead to four or five good deals. There was a preponderence of books about Robert Pattinson, the Twilight hunk, although my own publishers, Piccadilly Press, had beaten everyone to the punch and got their book out months ago.
There was no dearth of drink either – I left at 4.30pm and the wine glasses were already out. There may be talk of a new abstemious attitude in publishing but here, at least, people seemed determined to remain upbeat. The Fair is a dizzying experience even without wine and it’s almost impossible to take in all the titles on display. I did, however, pay homage to my YA trilogy, Kumari, prominently displayed on the Bounce Marketing stand.
Of course this is a tough economic climate but I see no reason why books should not ride out the storm. If anything, I would expect them to follow the pattern of DVDs and ready meals – sales of which are up as people hunker down at home. What will sink us all is a giving-in to the general malaise that infects, and is propagated by, the media. Newscasters seem to take a positive delight in passing on the latest horrific recession story or of bandying around depressing figures. Yes, things are bad. But we can get through this. And the best way to do that is to maintain a positive, creative attitude – a ton of which was in evidence at the London Book Fair.
The London Book Fair finishes today. For more about it: