Day Planner: London Book Fair 2021

Day Planner: London Book Fair 2021

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    Pick of the Week: Leading the Way in Book Publishing

    Thursday 24th June, 1.45pm

    There are some pretty big global publishing names on the “Leading the Way in Book Publishing” panel, organised by BookMachine. It tackles the theme of leadership: Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association and founder of Sharjah-based Kalimat Publishing Group; Lance Fitzgerald, vice-president of content and business development for Penguin Random House Audio in the US; Sanphy Thomas, managing director of Jessica Kingsley Publishers and director of professional publishing at John Murray Press; and Macmillan Children’s Books managing director Belinda Rasmussen. After more than a year of uncertainty, in which the publishing sector has largely pivoted to “the new normal” pretty successfully, these influential leaders will share their experiences and expertise on a range of topics. The panel will be chaired by Laura Summers, director of book publishing community BookMachine.

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    Author of the Fair: Matt Haig

    Tuesday 29th June, 9.15am

    It seems fitting that Haig is the Author of the Fair for LBF’s online iteration, given that he has amassed such a loyal following on social media. The writer and mental health advocate has had a stellar showing over the past 12 months, with his most recent novel The Midnight Library becoming his best- performing title to date, helping publisher Canongate to achieve major sales growth and nab the Independent Publisher of the Year award at the British Book Awards. With new non-fiction volume The Comfort Book coming soon and another children’s book on the horizon, Haig’s star only looks set to rise—and he’ll surely have plenty of wisdom to share in this talk.

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    Young Adults: Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing Through Fiction

    Thursday 24th June, 2pm

    Though children’s publishers have largely performed well throughout the past year and a half, the full effect of the pandemic on their young readers—whose day-to-day routines were completely disrupted—is yet to be seen.

    As part of LBF’s increased offering for this sector of the market, The Bookseller’s children’s editor and presenter of podcast “Chapter and Verse: The Art of Selling Children’s Books”, Charlotte Eyre, chairs a panel looking at how fiction can help young adults deal with the mental health and wellbeing issues caused by the lockdown. She is joined in this discussion by public health physician, academic and author Professor Anthony Kessel, and writers Phil Earle, Sita Brahmachari (pictured) and Joanna Nadin.

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    Championing Black Voices and Stories, Past, Present and Future

    Thursday 24th June, 4.35pm

    Next year marks a decade since Valerie Brandes (pictured) founded award-winning independent publisher and bookseller Jacaranda Books. Over the past year, her press completed its Twenty in 2020 initiative to publish 20 titles by 20 Black British writers across a range of genres in one year, launched an online book festival to celebrate this new wave of authors, announced a new non-fiction series dedicated to celebrating and exploring Black British culture, and partnered with Hachette UK to expand its sales and distribution across both its physical and digital list. In this panel, Brandes will showcase the company’s work and its mission to champion Black voices and stories, alongside Jacaranda editorial manager Magdalene Abraha, and authors Anni Domingo and Isabelle Dupuy.

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    Challenges and Opportunities of Publishing Children's Books from Wales

    Thursday 24th June, 12.10pm 

    Welsh children’s indie Firefly Press’ publicity and marketing manager Megan Farr, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Strategic Action for Internationalisation of the Children’s Publishing Sector in Wales, chairs a panel about kids’ publishing in her home country. It’s an exciting time for this growing market, with Welsh-language publishers looking to release more original titles in both Welsh and English, while presses are also beginning to expand into translation and capitalise on the rights potential of their lists.

    There is also a new kid on the block—Cardiff-based Llyfrau Broga Books, founded by author-illustrators Huw and Luned Aaron in late 2019—while discontinued publisher Gomer Press’ impressive children’s backlist has recently been bought by fellow Welsh indies Atebol and Y Lolfa. Joining Farr to discuss the challenges and opportunities of publishing in this space and the benefits of investing in it are: Firefly’s publisher Penny Thomas; Owain Saunders Jones, m.d. of publisher Atebol; Helgard Krause, c.e.o. of the Books Council of Wales; and award-winning poet and rising star Alex Wharton.

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    Quick, Quick Slow: What Have Been the Technological Changes in Publishing this Year?

    Wednesday 23rd June, 1.30pm 

    Though publishers had overflowing email inboxes and were obsessively refreshing Twitter “for work purposes” pre-2020, it’s safe to say that since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the industry has relied on technology more than ever.

    While indie bookshops and presses have revamped their websites to sell books directly to customers, events have pivoted to online models—and we have all realised that meetings can be held outside London, thanks to virtual platforms such as Zoom.

    There have been real challenges to living life online, and it’s safe to say that many of us are looking forward to the day we can enjoy canapes in the presence of our publishing colleagues again, rather than talking to them through a screen. But there have also been benefits too, with festivals becoming more accessible and reaching people across the globe, flexible working practices being widely adopted and regional barriers becoming less pronounced.

    Whether these upsides become embedded in the industry long-term remains to be seen, but in this panel Justine Solomons, director of Byte the Book, will chair a discussion looking at how some of these changes have affected the industry.

    She is joined by: Mark Stay, author, screenwriter and co-presenter of “The Bestseller Experiment” podcast; Hermione Ireland, m.d. of specialist wine book publisher Académie du Vin Library; and Simon Appleby, director of Bookswarm, a digital agency for book trade clients.