Focus on South Africa

<p>The London Book Fair is now just a few months away, and there is considerable excitement in publishing circles here about the South Africa Market Focus that will be part of the fair.<br />
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In preparation for the event, the London Book Fair and the London organised a three-day workshop for representatives from South African publishers in order to prepare and orientate them for the event, as well as to guide them on how to maximise opportunities at the fair.<br />
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The workshop was run at a conference centre north of Pretoria. I had been invited to attend the workshop by Amy Webster, international key accounts manager for LBF, but was able to attend only the final session on a wet and extremely chilly Friday &ndash; any of our English visitors who had been expecting glorious African sunshine must have had a real shock.<br />
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The workshop was facilitated by Sheila Lambie, senior lecturer in publishing from Oxford Brookes University, while Jane Henshall, the South Africa Market Focus co-ordinator, Karen Brodie from the British Council and Amy Webster were also in attendance.<br />
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From what I could gather, the workshop had been fast-paced and intense, with a bit of homework thrown in just in case the participants were bored in the evenings. The publishers present were a mixture of large operations, such as Pan Macmillan, and small, such as Two Dogs, African Perspectives, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and Modjaji Books.<br />
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The participants were, among many topics, given an overview of the British publishing industry, details about copyright and rights and translations issues, but also practical advice on organising and designing their stands, dress standards, security and, especially coming from a country with an exchange rate&nbsp;of R12 to the pound, some sound advice at budgeting and expenditure while in London.<br />
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Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books says: &quot;The London Book Fair is a focused trade fair, which is quite different, tougher and more demanding than our Cape Town Book Fair. The London Book Fair needs careful planning, and I need to set my agenda and my strategic goals and stick to them. I also need to redesign some of my marketing material, especially advanced information (AIs) or sales, sheets.&rdquo; <br />
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Nina Gabriels, publicist for Pan Macmillian, says: &quot;The&nbsp;workshop&nbsp;has more than prepared us for London Book Fair. It provided us with a comprehensive overview of the UK publishing industry and, more importantly, an understanding of the processes of buying and selling rights.&quot;<br />
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It was also noteworthy that the small publishers who succeeded in obtaining sponsorship to attend the London Book Fair are all full-time publishers, and not part-time operations.<br />
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I am not, however, suggesting that the part-time publishers failed to obtain sponsorship for that reason &ndash; perhaps, like Dye Hard Press, they did not apply. But the fact that no part-time publishers are likely to be part of the South Africa Market Focus does not diminish the importance of their contribution to South African literature. <br />
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