The IPR team were at London Book Fair in full force last week, with back-to-back meetings on the German Collective Stand and elsewhere. Olympia was packed, and rather hot, for the 3 days we were there, but there was a really good buzz about the place and we packed a lot in!
On the Tuesday morning, Director of the London Book Fair Jacks Thomas kicked off an event entitled “Censor, Advocate, or Disruptor? The Role of Publishers in an Evolving Publishing and Media Landscape”. This talk, which saw a number of different speakers take to the stage, discussed whether it was our duty to enable publishers the freedom to publish. As Thomas pointed out “It all starts with literacy”. Mark Stephens CBE, a solicitor specializing in media law, intellectual property rights and human rights, raised some important issues: how is censorship working and what are the fundamental standards that we should be look for internationally?
On an altogether different and lighter note, one of the main attractions of the Fair was a reconstruction of The Oval Office which had been created by Penguin Random House to help launch Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s new thriller The President is Missing. It even came with a Donald Trump look-alike and secret service personnel in dark glasses! Fair goers were offered the chance to get their photo taken seated behind The President’s desk and then post them on social media. Which they did in spades…
Industry news released during London Book Fair reported that crime/thrillers are now the biggest genre in the UK now. Last year, 18.7 million crime books were sold – 19% more than in 2015, data company Nielsen Bookscan says. And at the Fair itself, it was deals for feminist fiction that were making the headlines.
Another highlight of the week, was a talk put on in the packed-out CrossMedia Theatre when bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes was in conversation with her agent from Curtis Brown, Sheila Crowley. The author of the ‘Me Before You’ series, told the audience how it had taken her 10 books before making her breakthrough, so she advised perseverance as it can really pay in the end. She also confessed that, having worked so closely on the film version of her novel, she can’t think of her heroine Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark now without imagining the actress Emilia Clarke. At the end of the session, her Chinese publishers cheekily took the opportunity in a Q&A session to put her on the spot and ask her to come and promote her books in Beijing. ‘Ask my agent, she’s right here!’ came Jojo’s quick response!
Finally, we also had time to attend a ‘YA Spotlight’ session on the Wednesday. On the panel were: Denise Johnstone-Burt, Publisher and Executive Editorial Director at Walker Books, Rogers, Coleridge & White Director Claire Wilson, and author Taran Matharu, and proceedings were ably curated by freelance publicist, Lisa Shakespeare. This event was also packed out as attendees listened to discussions about current trends, growth areas and the intersection between books and gaming. One visitor made a despairing plea as she declared ‘No more vampires, PLEASE!’.