LBF: That day one buzz

<p>Having had an earful of all the doom and recessionary gloom for the past several months, I was half-preparing to step out into Earls Court for the opening day of the London Book Fair to something out of a Wild West ghost town. You know: tumbleweeds blowing through aisles, the only sounds the creaking of swinging saloon doors on the IPG stand.</p>
<p>Well, hardly. Attendance figures are two percent down from last year and it does feel it a bit. But only a bit, and perhaps if I wasn't looking for it, I wouldn't have noticed. There is a buzz to the place, deals are still being done, publishers and book agents hunched over in deep conversation.</p>
<p>One publisher told a colleague: &quot;I thought it was going to be well down, but it isn't.&quot;</p>
<p>&quot;Blooming busy&quot; was another quote I heard.<br />
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The Americans were widely tipped to stay away, but worst case scenario predictions do not seem to have come true. Jon Malinowski at the American Collective Stand admitted to being troubled about this year, but has been pleased by the numbers on the ACS stand. The weak pound has been a boost: &quot;The exchange rate certainly helps. Last year it was at 2.1 [dollars to sterling], this year it is about 1.5. It means people might be able to go out for a decent meal.&quot;</p>
<p>There has unquestionably been some belt tightening. The ACS and Canadian stands have reduced space - as most of the publishers I talked to said they have done - and the larger players say they have brought less people. And the number, and scope, of the parties has been scaled back.<br />
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But there is a reason exhibitors come here. To sell and acquire books, to show off new technologies. Even in the downturn the business of the publishing goes on.</p>
<p>As NBN International Sheila Bounford says: &ldquo;Attendance is definitely down. But that doesn't mean you aren't going tot have sensible conversations.&quot;</p>