London Book Fair: 'Back with a vengeance', say publishers

London Book Fair: 'Back with a vengeance', say publishers

Publishers and agents greeted this year's London Book Fair with a flurry of deal making and active seminars, following the lacklustre 2010 fair. Despite the transition to digital, and ongoing speculation about the future of Waterstone's publishers and agents reported positive trading. "It is back with a vengeance," was Simon & Schuster m.d. Ian Chapman's view, while agent Carole Blake called it "stupendous". United Agents' Jessica Craig added: " I think we're all facing a lot of challenges in the market and we're facing the same problems, but it's all been very positive."

Here is what fair-goers told The Bookseller:

Simon Littlewood, Random House international director: "I sensed there has been a collective will to make it a real success after the devastation of last year and there has been a buzz and vitality about it because of that. I think that in publishing globalisation does not mean that one size fits all;  you may be thinking globally but you've got to act locally and that means personal contact."

Mark Smith, Quercus c.e.o.: "From our perspective, it has been really buzzing for us this year. It's been a positive fair for us. It's a great opportunity for people to maintain and develop their relationships. There is a variety [of talking points], digital continues to be on the top of everyone's agenda. When you get in here you're focusing internationally. "

United Agents, Jessica Craig, foreign rights agent: "It's been a really pleasant Fair. I think we're all facing a lot of challenges in the market and we're facing the same problems, but it's all been very positive. There's not for us a big blockbuster book that everyone is running around talking about. Now I feel the book fairs become more relevant, they are the only time in the year where we're able to get together and share stories and trends. At book fairs, it's the only time when people are in the mood to buy new things. I find the other times of the year are a lot less productive now. "

Carole Blake, Blake Friedmann: "It's been just stupendous, it's been fabulous. People have come with more of a will to do things. Partly because there has been a more positive attitude in the last few months, and partly because people really missed the LBF last year. Every literary editor I have spoke to have said there has been an explosion of manuscripts in March, and that has been the same for us."

Wayne Brookes, Pan Macmillan publishing director: "It's been very busy, I think after last year. It is really buzzy this year because everyone is back. There's a really exciting mood despite the overall economic environment. There's not been the really huge books, but [there's been] lots of different books, a lot of variety in terms of genres and submissions."

Ian Chapman, Simon & Schuster m.d.: "It is back with a vengeance. It's never been busier in terms of population and number of appointments. It's energising and it does remind me of full on Frankfurt of days of yore. A lot of networking, a lot of Americans, a wonderful presence from our Americans, that's really important to us. Post-volcanic ash, people have flocked to it. E-books and so on, a lot of talk around the digital new world,  met someone from Australia and we were talking about that this morning, and the Europeans are trying to prepare themselves."

Chapman also said the fair had two "different, but very significant and generational" focal points in agent Abner Stein's memorial last Friday and Sonny Mehta's lifetime achievement award on Tuesday. He added: "The LBF has changed its personality dramatically over the past 3 to 5 years, become a credible addition or an alternative to Frankfurt. It is an opportunity for people to come together and talk about books."