A Postcard from London Book Fair 2019

March 14th, 2019

Our Books Publishing Director Briana Melideo recently attended the London Book Fair. Here are some of her reflections on this important industry event.
Briana leaning on red balcony overlooking the London Book Fair

Books Publishing Director Briana Melideo at the London Book Fair

Our Books Publishing Director Briana Melideo recently attended the London Book Fair. Here are some of her reflections on this important industry event in the publishing calendar.

On a grey, damp and windy morning, the doors of Olympia London open up to reveal a bustling, vibrant, dynamic world of books – and all of those who love reading, writing, making, illustrating, selling and publishing them – in multiple formats. As I enter into the London Book Fair, it’s clear that I am with kindred spirits, united together under the theme of ‘Taking Words Further’.

Briana sitting in deck chair inside trade hall

Briana relaxes in the mobile beach library display at the London Book Fair

The opportunity to attend the Fair provides an amazing array of conferences, seminars and meetings. It’s a chance to catch-up with old friends, establish and build relationships and to be part of publishing on the global stage. Wandering through the seven different sections is initially overwhelming, but you quickly ascertain key features – the two-storey stand with neon signage for a major trade publisher; the bright farm setting, complete with tractor, trees and rubber duckies that marks the start of the children’s hub; or the beach umbrellas and deck chairs showcasing how a mobile beach library works. These are my landmarks for the next three days.

As a small STM publisher in Australia, coming to London gives me the chance to see what we’re doing well, where we need to develop and expand, and what new industry offerings should we consider. The opening Quantum conference highlighted that while publishers need to learn new skills, the old skills of supporting our authors, offering great services and believing in our products are critical for the future. The Research and Scholarly Forum is another highlight, where I was in good company with others grappling with Open Access, Plan S, metadata and discoverability. As I write this, the latest Brexit deal has just been rejected, so this will no doubt dominate discussions.

While the STM discussions are familiar territory, one of the joys of the Fair is seeing other sides of the industry. This year the Fair is celebrating Indonesia as their market focus and their stand has been a hive of activity showcasing the country’s dynamic publishing industry.

The daily magazine keeps me updated on the seven-figure rights deals that have been signed, and the hotly contested bids for new authors, new books and feature film adaptation rights. While I haven’t sold any Netflix rights to date for a science title, I’ll certainly be spending the next two days learning, listening and collaborating, so that we can help our authors to take their words further… and you just never know, maybe I’ll be back next year to sign that adaptation deal!