LBF 2022 kicks off

LBF returns in person for first time since 2019

Sharjah opening ceremony at the London Book Fair 2022. Photo London Book Fair

The London Book Fair (LBF) returned on 5 April as a physical event, with exhibitors and attendees descending on Olympia to hear talks and sessions with expert publishers, award-winning authors, internet sensations, and more.

Andy Ventris, director of The LBF, said, “After two years away, we are delighted to welcome the global publishing industry back to Olympia in person for The London Book Fair. It is so wonderful to see exhibitors and attendees returning and to see the warmth and connection throughout the venue.

“With a keynote by publisher Louise Moore and a talk by award-winning novelist Maggie O’Farrell, as well as the opening ceremony for Sharjah as this year’s Market Focus, we have certainly started the Fair with a bang. We look forward to sharing even more exciting program events over the next two days.”

LBF Day 1 highlights

Louise Moore, managing director of Penguin Michael Joseph, gave a keynote on the importance of commercial fiction for the publishing industry, exploring why the genre does not always receive the respect it deserves.

Author of the Day Maggie O’Farrell appeared in conversation with Jo Finney, Good Housekeeping Books editor, discussing her career, winning the Women’s Prize for Hamnet, and her highly anticipated upcoming novel The Marriage Portrait.

Sharjah, LBF’s 2022 Market Focus, held their opening ceremony on the Sharjah Pavillion, with speeches from Market Focus Author of the Day Afra Atiq, Keith Nichol, head of Cultural Diplomacy, DCMS, Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, executive chairman of the Department of Government Relations, speaking on behalf of the Ruler of Sharjah and Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association, Stephen Lotinga, chief executive officer of The Publishers Association, and a performance by a ten-strong Emirati band. The ceremony marks the start of three days of sessions showcasing literature and culture from the region.

Monique Roffey, author of 2020 Costa Book of the Year The Mermaid of Black Conch, spoke about the intersection between the mythic and postcolonial in the English PEN Literary Salon, while European Union Prize for Literature winner Walid Nabhan did a reading of his work at Poet’s Corner.

Other authors appearing on the day’s program included bestsellers Nicola May and JD Kirk, discussing independent publishing through Kindle, writer Lizzie Damilola Blackburn on her highly anticipated debut Yinka, Where Is Your Husband?, and Eva Verde, Natasha Carthew, and Mahsuda Snaith exploring the challenges facing working-class writers.

A session on the influence of TikTok on the publishing industry saw large crowds gather to listen to an expert panel comprising of Ashley Baugh, Midas, Naomi Bacon, Tandem Collective, Sharika Teelwah, Penguin Random House, and author Fiona Lucas.

TikTok star Francis Bourgeois, whose popular trainspotting videos have secured Gucci campaigns and 2.3 million followers on the platform, visited the Fair. Bestselling Jane’s Patisserie baker and social media star Jane Dunn also appeared at LBF following the announcement of Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate!, the follow-up to her bestselling debut cookbook.

The Spotlight on Catalan program saw award-winning novelist Max Porter in conversation with Catalan author Marta Orriols, and writer Jay Griffiths discuss time, experience, and meaning with University of Barcelona professor Josep Maria Esquirol.

The Writer’s Summit saw an audience of aspiring, emerging and independent writers gather to hear publishers and authors discuss the realities of writing as a career, with speakers including debut novelist Kasim Ali, Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, James Spackman of BKS Agency, and Nikesh Shukla, award-winning writer and co-founder of the Good Literary Agency.

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film, and digital channels. The LBF is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalize on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content, and emerging markets. The London Book Fair 2022 is taking place from  5 – 7 April 2022 at Olympia London.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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