LBF LATEST: fair cancelled as Big Five pull out

LBF LATEST: fair cancelled as Big Five pull out

The London Book Fair has been cancelled owing to the coronavirus outbreak following a wave of cancellations from major publishers and agencies.

Latest update, 3.20pm (Wednesday 4th March): Book trade reacts to LBF cancellation 

The book trade has expressed disappointment at the cancellation of the London Book Fair (LBF) but accepted that it was the "right call", as the UK works on containment of the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association, said: “Like everyone, we are obviously disappointed that London Book Fair has been cancelled but we fully understand why this difficult decision has been taken. The fair is an annual highlight for our industry and part of the very fabric of publishing globally. We look forward to it returning in 2021.”

Bridget Shine, chief executive for the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG), whose collective was due to host 100 independent publishers at the fair, said it was “such a shame”, but that there had been a creeping realisation LBF’s cancellation had become “inevitable”, while Perminder Mann, c.e.o., Bonnier Books UK, said the fair’s cancellation would “undoubtedly” have a knock-on effect on business, but branded the decision “wise and prudent”. Read the full story here

Latest update, 9.56am (Wednesday 4th March): LBF cancelled

LBF has been cancelled, "following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Europe", organisers Reed Exhibitions have announced. 

In a statement, Reed said: "The effects, actual and projected, of Coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions. We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.
"We recognise that business has to continue. With this in mind, we will of course support and collaborate with exhibitors and visitors to keep our world moving during this difficult period. We thank all those from the UK and a multitude of other countries who have prepared over the last year to deliver what promised to be a wonderful book fair showcasing, as ever, the exciting best of the global book industry. The London Book Fair will return, better than ever, in 2021." Read the full story here

Latest update, 9.50am (Wednesday 4th March): Simon & Schuster will not attend

Simon & Shuster has become the last of the Big Five to pull out of the fair. Read the story here.

Latest update, 9.10am (Wednesday 4th March): HarperCollins cancels fair appearance

HarperCollins has announced it will not have a presence at the fair this year, including its UK teams. Read the story here.

Latest update, 4.15pm (Tuesday 3rd March): Penguin Random House makes 'difficult decision' to exit London Book Fair

Penguin Random House has withdrawn from the London Book Fair, including its UK staff. Read the full story here.

Latest update, 2.57pm (Tuesday 3rd March): Pan Mac pulls plug on LBF

Pan Macmillan has announced it is pulling out of the London Book Fair this year following concerns about coronavirus.

Managing director Anthony Forbes Watson said: "The duty of care that we have to everyone who works for us and the news that so many of our customers and partners will no longer be attending the book fair have combined to lead us to this conclusion." 

The publisher plans to reschedule as many planned meetings as possible. Read the full story here.

Latest update, 2.50pm (Tuesday 3rd March): Leipzig Book Fair cancelled

One of Germany’s most popular book events has succumbed today to the pressure connected with the spread of the new coronavirus. The news that Leipziger Buchmesse, scheduled to run from March 12th-15th, has been cancelled has spread like wildfire within Germany. Read the full story here.

Latest update, 12.45am (Tuesday 3rd March): Original Talent withdraws from LBF

Curtis Brown, C&W, Fane, Tavistock Wood, CBC and Ed Victor Ltd will all be absent from this year's London Book Fair, after parent company Original Talent made the decision today (3rd March) to withdraw. Read the full story here.

Latest update, 11.30am (Tuesday 3rd March): Government issues coronavirus action plan

The government has issued its coronavirus action plan, emphasising it is currently in the "Contain" phase of the outbreak while planning for the "Delay" phase. Action that would be considered in the Delay phase could include reducing the number of larger scale gatherings and encouraging greater home working. The plan says everyone can help the UK's response in a number of ways including "following public health authorities’ advice, for example on hand washing", checking and following the latest Foreign Office advice when travelling, ensuring vaccination are up to date and using NHS 111. 

In a statement, the department of health and social care said: "The current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which began in December 2019, presents a significant challenge for the entire world. The UK government and devolved administrations, including the health and social care system, have planned extensively over the years for an event like this. The UK is therefore well prepared to respond in a way that offers substantial protection to the public."

Latest update, 11.19am (Tuesday 3rd March): Hachette Livre pulls out of LBF

No staff members from Hachette Livre will be attending London Book Fair, the publisher has confirmed.

A Hachette spokesperson said today (Tuesday 3rd March): “We have a duty of care to our staff, and, after careful discussion and reflection, no one from Hachette Livre will be attending the London International Book Fair - including staff from Hachette UK.”

Read the full story here

Latest update, 10.15am (Tuesday 3rd March): LBF director Jacks Thomas confirms the event is still on schedule

London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas has confirmed that the event is still on schedule to run next week, with widespread trailers for the government’s new coronavirus action plan, to be revealed later today (Tuesday 3rd March), indicating that the government will not recommending cancelling large events or closing schools unless Public Health England advises it.

Thomas and Reed Exhibitions c.e.o. Hugh Jones are understood to have faced opposition in this decision from some members of the LBF Advisory Board at a conference call discussion late yesterday (Monday), with some on the board - which includes representatives of the major trade associations – said to have been calling on Reed to cancel the event.

Read the full story here.

The government has said it will publish its coronavirus action plan tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd March); meanwhile earlier today Amazon pulled out of the London Book Fair, joining the US businesses of HarperCollins and Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin Random House who had withdrawn a number of their rights staff from the Fair amid the coronavirus outbreak. Hachette Book Group US has confirmed that now none of its staff will attend. 

HarperCollins and Hachette are also reviewing the attendance of their UK teams ahead of the trade fair, which is scheduled to begin on 10th March. 

Latest update, 3.45pm (Monday 2nd March): Hachette Book Group US announces that none of its staff will attend LBF this year

"In a spirit of caution and protecting the health of our colleagues, Hachette Book Group will not be sending any employees to the London Book Fair," a spokesperson said. Earlier HGB US had said that its rights team had withdrawn but that its publishing and sales staff were "still considering" their attendance.

Latest update, 3.00pm (Monday 2nd March): Government will publish 'action plan' tomorrow

A UK-wide action plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak has been agreed at this morning's government emergency COBRA meeting and will be published tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd March). Prime minister Boris Johnson said following the meeting that the outbreak was "likely to become more significant for this country in the course of the next days and weeks" but added that people should "as far as possible go about business as usual". On Sunday (1st March) health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC's Andrew Marr that he wanted to avoid "social and economic disruption"; however tools the UK government could employ if needed could include banning mass gatherings, closing schools and encouraging people to avoid public transport, he said. In a statement on its site updated on that day, London Book Fair stated: "If the advice from the UK authorities does change we will act upon it and immediately update the industry."  

Latest update,11.30am (Monday 2nd March): Amazon also withdraws from LBF

An Amazon spokesperson told The Bookseller: “Out of an abundance of caution, and with the health and safety of our employees, customers and partners as our number one priority, we have taken the decision to withdraw from participating in the London Book Fair 2020, scheduled for March 10th to 12th.” The move affects the whole business, including Kindle Direct Publishing.

An email sent from Amazon Publishing to contacts this morning said: "We understand that you have spent significant time preparing for meetings and speaking engagements at LBF. We deeply regret that we will not be able to proceed as planned. We look forward to future opportunities to meet and collaborate." The email noted that the Amazon London Book Fair party planned for the 11th March has been cancelled.

Latest update, 9am (Monday 2nd March):  French book fair Livre Paris cancelled as Hachette US and HarperCollins US exit fair

The French book fair Livre Paris, scheduled to take place this month shortly after LBF, has also been cancelled after the French government banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

London Book Fair, however, maintained that "LBF is going ahead, 10th–12th March", with an update put out on its website on 1st March. LBF will take possession of fair venue Olympia on Wednesday, with building work to commence on Thursday. Prime minister Boris Johnson is to chair a meeting of the UK government’s Cobra national security committee regarding the coronavirus later today (2nd March).

LBF added in its statement that: "If the advice from the UK authorities does change we will act upon it and immediately update the industry." Advice for participants includes: " Exhibitors may wish to book an enhanced cleaning/sanitisation regime for your stand and you may want to consider having extra sanitising gel/wipes for buyers coming to your stand. Keep up to date with public health advice for your location and that of the events." A number of publishers, including those from the US, confirmed their attendance.

Staged annually, more than 25,000 publishing professionals usually attend LBF 

HarperCollins' international and US teams and the Hachette Book Group US rights team are the latest confirmed absences, with HarperCollins also saying it is "reviewing" the fair attendance for its UK staff. Hachette is also reviewing the attendance of its UK team. This follows the news on Friday (28th February) that Simon & Schuster US, Macmillan US and the Penguin US rights team have all pulled out of this month's event amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

A HarperCollins spokesperson told The Bookseller: "HarperCollins Publishers can confirm that staff from its international and US teams will not be attending London Book Fair 2020. HarperCollins is currently reviewing its presence at the Fair and the attendance of its UK teams. In addition, and with the health and safety of its staff and industry colleagues in mind, HarperCollins will no longer hold its pre-London Book Fair party which was scheduled to take place at Home House on Monday, 9th March."

An HBG US spokesperson confirmed that the company's rights team, representing Grand Central, Perseus and Little, Brown, had cancelled its trip to the fair; initially the spokesperson said that publishing and sales personnel were still considering their decision, but it has now been confirmed that none will attend.

The Bookseller reported on Friday that Simon & Schuster's entire US team have withdrawn from the event. A spokesperson said: “Those staff who were scheduled to attend are looking at alternate means to have meetings with their contacts in the international publishing community, as they already do on a year-round basis.” Company spokesperson Erin Coffey also confirmed that Macmillan Trade US would not be participating in the London Book Fair.

The Penguin side of PRH US’s rights team, representing the Viking, Riverhead, Penguin Press, Putnam and Dutton imprints, are understood to be skipping this year’s LBF. Penguin Random House US said the company continued to support the London Book Fair and would be loading its booth on schedule this week; however "for our US employees, and any other colleagues who are required to travel internationally, we have communicated that if they prefer not to travel to London, the company is fully supportive of that decision".

Other US exhibitors said their plans had not changed. John Malinowski of Combined Book Exhibit told The Bookseller: "We will be attending unless the UK government tells us otherwise. We only have two people from the USA Pavilion that have told us they would not attend. We are proceeding as normal."

Meanwhile the French book fair Livre Paris, scheduled to take place this month shortly after LBF, has been cancelled. Vincent Montagne, president of the French publishers' association SNE and of the fair, made the announcement late last night (Sunday 1st March). The decision was made regretfully, and the fair will return in 2021, he said. The cancellation was inevitable given France's recent ban on indoor gatherings of over 5,000 people in an attempt to stop the outbreak. Jérôme Salomon, French health ministry director general, said earlier on Sunday evening that the number of diagnosed Covid 19 coronavirus cases in France had risen to 130 since the end of January, up from 100 the day before. The cases are scattered across various parts of the country.

Organisers of Bologna Children’s Book Fair have postponed their event until May owing to the outbreak.

This story will be updated throughout the day.