My London Book Fair: Charlotte Bush

My London Book Fair: Charlotte Bush

Don’t ask which number LBF this is for me, because I won’t tell you.

I like LBF because it is packed full of global media. In 2016 there were more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries, so what better place to start building buzz? It’s also fun seeing foreign treatments of titles—our rights team does a phenomenal job.

The daftest thing I’ve done at the fair is shave a male model’s back so we could apply a Twitter hashtag transfer. He was our Christian Grey, helping to hand out early copies of Fifty Shades of Grey just before we published it.

Another book stunt that I loved was ahead of the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. We were announcing the rights deals with her agent, Andrew Nurnberg, and we needed a new image for media. So I took a photo of the title page of the manuscript and our marketing team had the idea of creating stickers [of it], which we placed around the tables at the fair.

It’s good catching up with the wider PRH family. It is always great to see colleagues from the US, in particular. Global collaboration matters more than ever and I love working with the teams from our New York offices. This year, the fair falls the week after our Penguin Random House conference, so it is a busy fortnight, with plenty of meetings with colleagues from our overseas companies too.

People sometimes ask what the point of the book fair is, when we have email and Facetime, etc. But there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation. And it’s the chance meetings that make it, both bumping into old colleagues and making new connections.

My first memory of LBF is... visiting when I was in my first publishing job as a picture researcher at Dorling Kindersley. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed by the scale.
One person I always love bumping into is Jeremy Robson. My first proper publicity job was working for Jeremy, at Robson Books. He took a risk in hiring me and I’ve always loved his spirit.

The things I always have with me are both of my iPhones. The other essential thing is a clear head. And water: a key to LBF survival is lots and lots of water.

My favourite place for coffee is... not at the fair! It’s the industrial-strength stuff I brew at home before setting off.

What will LBF be like in 50 years? Well I’m a publicist and I like to plan ahead, but 50 years is a little too far off—even for me.

Charlotte Bush is the director of publicity and media relations at Penguin Random House.