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LBF 09: Fewer people, more focus

<p>Greater realism, less hype and fewer but more constructive meetings was publishing&#39;s assessment of the 2009 London Book Fair as it enters its final day. While the fair has not felt as busy as in previous years, publishers have said that this has resulted in more productive meetings. Harper non-fiction publishing director, Carole Tonkinson, said: &quot;It has been more buoyant than one might have expected. It has been one of the most productive fairs for a while.&quot;</p><p>Transworld publishing director, Selina Walker, said: &quot;There&#39;s noticeably less attendance at LBF this year but it is still busy, there are a lot of deals being done.&quot;</p><p>Guinness World Records UK marketing manager, Paul Kenny, said: &quot;The fair has been good for us so far, we&#39;ve had lots of meetings. But it is a bit quieter, it&#39;s very similar to Frankfurt really. People aren&#39;t buying as much at the fairs anymore.&quot;</p><p>While publishers are more optimistic than several months ago, when sales were down and redundancies were pending at several firms, there was a sense of pragmatism at the fair. Publisher at Picador, Paul Baggaley, said: &quot;It&#39;s business-like this year; a lot more realistic. I haven&#39;t been aware of any ridiculous over-enthusiasm or hype. People are looking quite pragmatically at what they want on their list and how they want to develop.&quot;</p><p>Atlantic Books c.e.o. and publisher, Toby Mundy, agreed, adding: &quot;There&#39;s a more general caution and extraordinary uncertainty about the future. Most people I have met say [the recession] is an opportunity but it&#39;s not clear what the future of certain types of books or publishers or certain territories is going to be.&quot;</p><p>Canongate m.d., Jamie Byng, was more bullish, saying that more staff from the publisher were manning the stand than in previous years. He said: &quot;The fair is still really important for meeting people face to face and talking through the books that are coming out. Generally the mood is flatter but we are having a great time with it.&quot;</p><p>However, there was a discernible lack of a &quot;book of the fair&quot;. Harper Fiction publishing director, Lynne Drew, said: &quot;When you talk to all the different European publishers, they are all talking about different books, which usually isn&#39;t a good sign.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What they are saying at Earl&#39;s Court</strong><br /><br />&quot;We&#39;ve had as many meetings as last year and it seems quite busy, but I think that a lot of people are cutting the number of people they are sending over.&quot;<br />Amy Hundley, subsidiary rights director and editor, Grove/Atlantic US<br /><br />&quot;It doesn&#39;t feel like people are frenziedly buying books. I&#39;ve got my busiest schedule ever, but it feels more relaxed somehow.&quot;<br />Francis Bickmore, senior editor, Canongate Books<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s pretty good where we&#39;ve been located [in the Market Focus India section]. The interesting thing has been the number of walk-ins who&#39;ve come in for the first time.&quot; <br />Preeti Gill, rights director, Zubaan, New Dehli<br /><br />&quot;I&#39;m back to back with meetings&mdash;the economy hasn&#39;t changed my behaviour here. It might not be something that we see right now because people had already booked for this year&#39;s fair, so we might not see an impact yet.&quot; <br />Jason Hanley, strategic development manager, Google<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s a mixed picture. We&#39;ve had a few less people round, but we&#39;re very full for meetings, certainly. In the book market we ought to be optimistic because we&#39;re not trying to sell luxury goods, like holidays in the Seychelles. People can rediscover the pleasure of a good book.&quot;<br />Robert Seath, international rights manager, Lion Hudson<br /> </p>

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