LBF stays upbeat despite EU woes

Publishers and agents sounded a note of caution about European markets, but insisted optimism in the UK was strong as LBF entered its final day.

Many fairgoers noted it as one of the busiest LBFs in recent years, yet a number pointed out that many European territories seem to be struggling.

Jeremy Trevathan, Pan Macmillan publisher of adult fiction, said: “I get a real sense from Europeans, especially the Spanish and Italians, that they are virtually suicidal about their markets, and you spend the first 10–20 minutes of your meeting talking to them about that, before books.”

A M Heath agent Oli Munson said: “I think the general vibe internationally is that the mood of ‘constant nosedive’ has changed, and now there are green shoots in some places. However Spain and Portugal are still struggling.”

Plexus director Sandra Wake commented that “when we speak to European publishers, the offers are smaller than they used to be”.

Suzanne Cullum, rights executive at Summersdale, said: “I think there’s a feeling that some of the bigger European players are backing off a bit. The other side of that is it gives more space to others, like companies from eastern Europe. It’s a lot more diverse.”

Faber publisher and c.e.o. Stephen Page echoed her thoughts, saying: “This fair is all about working out how we do business, and there are huge opportunities out there. This weird model village we set up has everything on offer, and it’s completely a global discussion.”

Many enthused about digital discussions taking place. Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director at Profile, said: “There’s been lots of good talk about where e-books are moving, especially in terms of library and business-to-business models. The whole mood is upbeat.”

  • Books are my Bag launch, by Benedicte Page

At yesterday’s (16th April) official launch of the UK industry-wide Books Are My Bag promotion, M & C Saatchi founding partner James Lowther said the scheme was intended to be “a movement rather than a campaign”, saying it would utilise people on the street to “express their love of bookshops”. He added that the bags with their slogans would be “hundreds of thousands of small posters on the street”.

Patrick Neale, president of the Booksellers Association, said the campaign was a perfect example of a conversation between publishers and booksellers. He said he hoped bookshops would be part of a high street renaissance, adding that the industry had in recent years “concentrated too much on cold transactions and . . . forgotten about relationships”. 

LBF Bookseller Daily: Day 3