In depth: Book fairs 2013

London Book Fair
15th–17th April 2013
London, UK

It will be all change at the 42nd annual London Book Fair next year—Midas chief Jacks Thomas, who has been appointed senior exhibition director, will take over from Alistair Burtenshaw following his decade-long stint at the helm of LBF.

Publishers’ concerns about the e-book agency pricing model and the wider shift to digital dominated the headlines at this year’s LBF. But the event saw its fair share of controversy too, thanks to its Market Focus country of choice, China—exiled Chinese poet and essayist Bei Ling vociferously criticised the British Council Cultural programme, which featured only Chinese-state approved writers and organisations.

Next year could see further debate about free speech, with Turkey stepping into the Market Focus limelight. One thing is for sure, though—Turkey will be one of the last countries to set up its pavilion in Earls Court Exhibition Centre. With the site earmarked to be demolished for redevelop-ment (after 2014), LBF will soon be searching for a new home.  

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
24th–29th April 2013
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

This year, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair well and truly entered the digital arena, launching its own iPhone and iPad app in March, a few weeks before the 22nd annual fair kicked off.

One of the fastest-growing book fairs in the Middle East, ADIBF runs over six days, and this year’s fair saw 220 events, 7,000 students, over 900 exhibitors from 54 countries, half a million titles on display, and more than 4,000 guests at its professional and cultural programme—all factors which help turn it into the UAE’s biggest bookshop.

The fair in 2013 will feature all of the usual elements: a Show Kitchen, a Creativity Corner, an Education Chapter, and a professional programme that aims to help generate contacts in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The annual Spotlight on Rights stream will run again, supporting the translation of books by offering a subsidy of $1,000 to help with the costs of licensing rights to and from the Arabic language for each rights deal that is negotiated at the fair itself. This year also saw the fair’s first Arab Rights Showcase, which gave publishers the opportunity to present up to five Arabic titles in an online catalogue and in the Business & Rights centre at the fair.

BookExpo America
30th May–1st June
New York City, US

Although Neil Young and Patti Smith could be seen walking the halls of the Javits Center in New York this June, the pros and cons of DRM was actually the hottest topic on people’s lips at BookExpo America—North America’s largest book fair, with over 2,000 exhibits, 500 authors, 60 conference sessions and a thriving rights centre.

The annual fair includes three days of exhibitions, plus multiple conferences, including the two-day digital conference International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Digital Book Conference. This year its speakers included Otis Chandler, founder and c.e.o. of Goodreads, Google’s Garth Conboy, Madeline McIntosh, president of sales, operations and digital at Random House, Bloomsbury’s Richard Charkin and Touch Press founder Theodore Gray.

BookExpo America saw an 18% growth in new exhibitors from 2011 to 2012, with around 200 new companies participating in the event. Following on from this year, which saw Russia as its focus country, Mexico will be the Guest of Honour at the Global Market Forum in 2013.

Frankfurt Book Fair
9th–13th October
Frankfurt, Germany

The world’s largest book fair is a staple on every publisher’s calendar. With its impressive programme of events covering all aspects of the trade, it is an annual must-go.
Next year’s FBF—which will see Brazil appearing as its Guest of Honour ahead of its hosting of the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years after, in 2016—is set to be bigger and better than ever; the arrival of a thriving Latin American market in the Buchmesse will undoubtedly be good news for UK publishers looking to increase their international reach.

Sharjah International Book Fair
November
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

The Sharjah International Book Fair’s tagline is “For the love of the written word”, and this 10-day annual event now draws more than 800 publishers, showcases books from nearly 42 nations, and attracts over 400,000 fairgoers.

Next year’s fair will be the 32nd, run by Sharjah’s Department for Culture and Information. The fair’s goal is to promote reading by making books easily available at affordable prices, and the local population is encouraged to spend time at the fair. SIBF also provides an insiders’ look at Arab culture; the programme is split into three strands—professional, cultural and children’s—with the fair holding seminars on multiple issues facing publishers in both the Arab and Western world.