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Countdown to the London Book Fair

11 April 2010


The London Book Fair takes place 19-21 April, with a programme of paid seminars starting next weekend on subjects including digital transformation, how to get published and writing for screen. Throughout the week, there is a comprehensive programme of events, including frequent sessions on assessing your manuscript, self publishing and book promotion. On Monday there is a session on the Google Books Settlement, which could be of particular interest to authors. These events are included in the entry price.

The authors of the day will be Hilary Mantel (Monday), Andre Brink (Tuesday) and Eoin Colfer (Wednesday). They will take part in Q&A sessions, seminars and book signings.

This year there will be an area dedicated to comic books and graphic novels for the first time. The fair's website says they have "finally emerged as a serious part of the publishing industry", but we're still a long way behind France where graphic novels are a part of the mainstream culture. They do present an interesting opportunity to expand the market, particularly to younger people, at a time when book retailers have been struggling.

The Digital Zone and theatre will be back again this year. Last year, there were a lot of people selling technology to package ebooks. It will be interesting to see how much that has changed in the intervening year, in particular whether there are any companies developing apps for the iPhone or iPad. The sponsor for this zone is the Sony Reader, and there are no obvious Apple-related companies in the exhibitor guide. There is a comprehensive programme of talks dedicated to ebook publishing, covering technical, business and legal issues.

The market focus this year is on South Africa, and there is an impressive number of exhibitors (about fifty) in this area. If you're looking to break into the South African market, there is bound to be helpful advice there.

Outside the themed areas, the exhibition can be a bit hard to navigate. To help find your way around the exhibition floor, there is an interactive guide creator on the London Book Fair website. You tick the boxes for the product classes you're interested in, and it will generate a map and exhibitor listing showing only the companies you'll be interested in. If you have fairly narrow interests, this can be a valuable planning tool.

Tickets are cheaper if you register in advance, and you'll be able to get into the show more quickly on the day too. Members of the Society of Authors have a special discount. Details are in the latest issue of The Author.

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