On Wednesday, I was very pleased to meet up with Karen from Eurocrime and Maxine from Petrona at the London Book Fair. Could this become an annual event and could other friendly blog voices add to the triumvirate in future years? I hope so.
I've already talked about our encounter with the Espresso machine in an earlier post so this one is more general. The first thing to note is that the final day is quieter, much quieter. The only benefit to this is that it's easier to find a seat to sit, eat, drink and talk. There are also fewer queues when it comes to collecting a drink. The downsides include some stands having already lost their human participants, or they've run out of catalogues or started to pack up.
I had arrived some time before the meeting arrangements so I managed a short tour over 15 minutes, before grabbing a table at our meeting point. After a good hour or so of chat, we headed out to navigate the stands. Maxine had done exactly the same as me and listed the names and stand locations. But then came the pantomime performance. I think it was twice that I stood by a stand, diary in hand, saying "Well, we're here by X so Y should be very close." To which I had the reply "It's right behind you." I hadn't even spotted the genie coming out of the lamp. This year's LBF looked as big as last year's, but I found it harder to navigate. I blame the shorter timeframe.
The ladies who were front of house at the Panmacmillan stand were very friendly. I even walked away with a rather chunky diet book – more on that later. I wonder if it will prove to be this year's trend. It has made its way across the pond from the US. As the economy continues to enter an even frostier mode, if it was titled "Dieting in the Frugal Years" I think it might have a better chance. But who knows?
On passing a Swedish book stand, we admired the covers on the chidren's books. I spotted a Henning Mankell book for children that was indeed in English. Until then, I had not realised that Mankell had written for children.
We spent a bit of time at the Quercus stand, a publisher very much appreciated by both Maxine and Karen for their engagement in crime in translation. I'll be making a start with Quercus when I read Esther Verhoef's Close-up, which is coming up soon and I also have a copy of Prue Leith's The Choral Society, for when I feel like a departure from crime.
Quite late in the afternoon the IPG stand was still very busy, with a lot of activity within its inner hub, even though some of the independent publishers had already departed. I hope the activity was a sign of good things for them.
One thing's for sure, although it was the last day and quieter, there was no discernible reduction in the effort put in by publishers and others in the trade. The set up, in terms of size and nature of stands was about the same as last year. If anything, I think the IPG utilised a larger floorspace this year.
Acceptance of book bloggers was greatly improved this year, with far less suspicion encountered. This was also reflected in an experience I had earlier today. I am slow to do all the "following" I'd ideally like on Twitter and I discovered that The Bookseller had clicked to follow me before I could reach to them. I think the phenomenon of Twitter in the world of books and publishing is worthy of investigation one day; but for now, I have the survey of book bloggers to analyse…