London Book Fair 2013

LogoThis week saw me heading to London for my first visit to London Book Fair. I felt a complete novice as it took me half an hour to even find the children’s section, given both the size of Earls Court and the distraction of the stands en route. Bless the kind lady who took me to the right place and told me to stay on the red carpet!

I was glad I had some meetings lined up as everyone seemed to know everyone else and be in the midst of important meetings. I did have a momentary flashback to that first-day-at-school feeling. What really impressed me about the event though was the calibre of the presentations and the passion and enthusiasm for children’s books. As Book Events for Children is an online venture, I’m always interested in the use of social media and online activities to promote the book industry and enjoyed the presentation by YA bloggers and publicists. Publishing companies have professional relationships with bloggers and see working with them as an integral part of a new publicity campaign. It’s such a fast-moving, innovative area with bloggers creating their own book trailers and BookTubers using YouTube as a means of reaching their audience. It makes me wonder how we’ll be promoting and marketing books in another five years.

Equally fascinating for me, was listening to publicity managers describing how they created successful publicity campaigns and book events without actually having an author to take part in the events, either because they’re so high-profile (in the case of JK Rowling) or not in the country (Jeff Kinney). One campaign involved an online poll to find the nation’s favourite Harry Potter villain to promote JK Rowling’s books. Another innovative idea to promote the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series was to create a Wimpy Kid show featuring draw-along events, a quiz and exclusive clips of Jeff Kinney talking about the books and demonstrating his illustrations. A hugely-successful book event which doesn’t need an author!

The interest in children’s books didn’t seem to be confined to the hall either. as I was leaving the event, a security guard was telling me about his dyslexic son and asked for recommendations about publishers specialising in books for dyslexic and struggling readers. In spite of all the bad-news stories about the closure of libraries and  struggling independent bookshops I did leave with the feeling that this is a really exciting time for the children’s book industry.

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