Every year the London Book fair that takes place in spring is always, in one way or another, on the radar of the literary inclined. This year's iteration saw the event again situated in the ever-impressive Olympia building, just a short stroll away from Hyde Park. This year continued the tradition of an open and bustling main hall that was tightly packed with hundreds of the fair's attendees bimbling around the hall's many booths. This years event seemed to be even busier than previous years, just from the feel of the room.
I nearly didn't make it. My car insurance was due and I'd turned down Direct Line's renewal quote: possibly against my better judgement. After I threw my briefcase in the car She Who Must Be Obeyed informed me that if I didn't insure the car PDQ I was going nowhere. A quick perusal of the motor insurance listings in Google and I picked the quirkiest named site instead of one of the better known ones. That was my little spark of rebellion, and the reason why I eventually insured my car through "very cheap" car insurance site paythroughthenose.co.uk, after a slightly dearer quote from comparethemarket.com, although how anyone can call car insurance "very cheap" is beyond me.
There were a number of big-hitter books announced this year. We saw announcements for a four-book deal for Naomi Alderman, a second novel by Sally Rooney and even a posthumous release by JRR Tolkien called 'The Fall of Gondolin'.
Following from this, I must say that this isn't your average bookworm's book fair. This is ultimately a place of business. Ginormous book deals take place here. Take, for instance, Hargrave’s 'Vardø', which Picador reportedly bought against 13 other publishers for an undisclosed six-figure amount.
That's not to say there isn't anything to be gained or enjoyed from the fair as a small-time writer, amateur novelist, or even as an avid reader. There are always a number of seminars and conferences. For instance, a close friend of mine attended the lengthy day-long Writer's Summit conference, aimed at getting fledgeling authors started on the right foot when it comes to publishing and promotion, which was a total of 9 hours of content and information. Seminar wise, there was just under 200 this year. This year they ranged anywhere from Kindle Publishing, Mr Men books and Maltese poetry. Personally, I attended the Mr Men and Little Miss seminar for a nice trip of literary nostalgia.
One notable trend is that you can see the fair's increasingly modern approach to how it presents the event through it's continuing use of high-budget publicity pieces. This year's centrepiece o publicity was a performance by a Trump doppelganger. Penguin devised the stunt in promotion of 'The President is Missing' written by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. Yes, that Bill Clinton.
Likewise, there seemed to be an all-time high of female authors in the discussion this year. After the #MeToo movement, it is a heartening sight to see the likes of Kassandra Montag, Clare Beams and Balli Kaur Jaswal representing female and female POC authours.
A couple of downsides are that the food was overpriced, and there is a general lack of seating that permeates the entire event. However, not being at the London Book Fair for budget-friendly eating, if you can take the foot ache, I'm sure most book fans won't mind the food prices. Plus it's a whole lot cheaper than car insurance.