Books Need Us Blog: The London Book Fair

By Maria Vassilopoulos – Books Need Us. 

In the Book trade we are currently in the middle of the London Book Fair, the biggest trade event we have in the UK! If you’ve been before then some of what I’m about to say will be familiar to you. If you are coming along then it may help, and if you are thinking of going next time then it will hopefully give you a good picture of what to expect.


What is it?

The London Bookfair has been going since 1971 and originally was a much smaller event – read more here. Nowadays the emphasis for the publishing business is around meeting their sales teams and bookstore buyers, showcasing new products, reminding customers about their past and best-selling titles and selling and acquiring international rights.


What’s there?

Basically most of the UK book trade under one roof. As the big publishing conglomerates have the plush stands its easy to spot them but also great to explore the medium and smaller publishers. There is also a digital zone were you can find out about the latest content driven technology. Each year a different country becomes the Market Focus – for example this year it’s Korea, so it’s quite interesting generally to see what publishing looks like in a different international market. There are seminars throughout the 3 days and these range from finding a job in publishing to marketing a children’s book – if you want to do a bit of networking then these are a good idea.


What’s the general atmosphere?

The book industry is a small and quite friendly place so there is a lot of meeting, greeting and clique behaviour. A career in the industry can include many companies so exhibitors are also ex-colleagues and friends. There is a lot of socialising. However, as it’s the only UK trade fair there is also a lot of work to be done. Some international bookstore customers come especially to see particular publishers and meeting lists are long. Stand events usually happen in the afternoon when diaries are clearer.


Are there any parties?

Yes but usually they are invite only so it really helps if you have friends in the book trade you can check in with. If not the pubs around Earl’s Court fill up with bookish folk each evening so it may be worth networking that way. The book industry is very much built on who you know.


What if I have an idea or submission?

The book fair for publishers is primarily sales focused. It can be a great way to find out more about the companies within and also get talking but don’t expect much time to be given to you. The best thing to do is take a business card and contact them in a couple of weeks as the fair also produces work in sales and rights after it has finished.


What other organisations are there?

The Bookseller, the UK’s only trade magazine that has been going since 1858 is the go-to place for industry charts, news, views and reviews. We produce a special daily edition each day of the fair that is actually worked on the day before to give current news as it is happening. The Booksellers Association- the guys behind books are my bag will also be there so look out for more of those totes as they have said there will be some again this year.


Top tips.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Network in the lunch queue, at the pub, after the seminar.

Take business cards and do submissions later, but casually talk about your latest project

It gets stuffy in the afternoons so wear clothes that aren’t too warm.

Have a pen and paper handy.

Tweet about your day and @ who you spoke to.

Wifi will go down in the afternoons so bear in mind.

Take cash in case food stalls can’t take cards – nearest cashpoint charges.

Look out for stand gatherings in the afternoons.

If you are going, have a great fair, I may even see you there! I will be on or around The Bookseller stand J558 so do stop by and say hello!


About Maria – I have worked with books for 10 years, selling, stacking, event hosting, marketing and even making posters of them!  I have double-stacked shelves at home and want to offer advice to authors that may need some clarity on the book trade from time to time – you are not alone!


Twitter: @Booksneedus

Website –

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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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