The London Book Fair announces keynote sessions

Olympia, London,18-20 April 2023

The London Book Fair announces keynote sessions
The London Book Fair will be held from 18-20 April 2023. Photo: Wiki

The London Book Fair (LBF) on 1 February announced the names of a host of speakers from the international publishing community who will be participating in the popular Main Stage theatre. Registrations have also opened for the 2023 edition of the fair.

The Main Stage will feature agenda-setting talks and panel sessions led by experts from across the publishing industry. Brian Murray, president and chief executive officer at HarperCollins Publishers, will open the program on Tuesday, 18 April. Additional topics to be discussed on the Main Stage include the cost of doing business, book-to-screen adaptations, sustainability in book publishing, attracting the next generation of publishing professionals and many more.

Gareth Rapley, Director of The London Book Fair, said: “The Main Stage was a popular addition to last year’s Fair, and I’m delighted that we are able to deliver another exciting and extensive selection of discussions to The London Book Fair 2023.  We are honored this year to present a selection of industry big hitters, ranging from international publishing organizations to indie publishers, multi-million selling authors, book retailers and media executives. The Main Stage will be an opportunity for not-to-be-missed debate and discussion, and we are looking forward to hearing the insights and innovations of this world-leading array of speakers.”

The initial program on the Main Stage includes:

Tuesday 18 April

*Keynote interview: Shaping the Business and the Art of the Book Industry

The conversation style session will cover perspectives from HarperCollins Publishers over how the book industry can be prepared for growth in a shifting landscape. Brian Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer, HarperCollins Publishers, is the key speaker.

*Global Outlook and Value of the Publishing Industry

With a changed publishing landscape and the demand for information consumed across a variety of media platforms, this session will address the value of growing the book market and book readership in a today’s digital world. What are the challenges and opportunities in this changing ecosystem and how can business models be continuing adapted?

The participants are Nigel Newton, president, Publishers Association – PA;  Karine Pansa, president, International Publishers Association – IPA;  Bodour Al Qasami, founder and president, Emirates Publishers Association – EPA.·It will be chaired by Philip Jones, managing editor, The Bookseller

*In conversation with The International Author of the Day, Colson Whitehead

An in-conversation panel with Colson Whitehead, international and #1 New York Times Bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for Fiction, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature. His latest book Crook Manifesto will be published by Doubleday in summer 2023.

*The Cost of Doing Business – What is the Precise Focus?

With rising costs in both supply chain and day to day living, what might be the impact of the recession on pricing and book sales? This session will address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on writers and how the book industry can support the writing talent during this challenging scenario.

The participants are  Hazel Broadfoot, president, The Booksellers Association,  Nigel Wyman, sales & marketing Director, Gardners Books and chaired by Publishers Weekly

*Copyright in a Global Context – What Threat Does This Pose to the Publishing Industry?

Copyright laws and intellectual property rights (IPR) varies in different countries. How is the legislation changing across the world, with legal challenges on different continents? What are the expectations of the industry? What can the industry do to encourage free expression and copyright? Copyright Exhaustion – what does mean for the industry? Topics explored will range from intellectual property framework copyright agreements in a post-Brexit Britain to new regulations currently impacting South Africa and the region.

The participants are Dan Conway, CEO, Publishers Association – PA;  Brian Wafawarowara, president, Publishers Association South Africa;  Maria A. Pallante, president and chief executive, Association of American Publishers – AAP;  Isobel Dixon, president, Association of Authors’ Agent – AAA; and chaired by: Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Publishing Perspectives

*Book to Film – Leveraging the Battle for the Attention Economy

What are TV and other media looking in the book industry for creative content? What are the challenges and opportunities in developing the written word for film, TV and new media? This session will explore the evolving landscape of creative content, and its bridge between streaming channels and what the creator is looking for in the book industry.

The participants are  Hannah Griffiths, Head of Literary Acquisitions, All3Media;  Danny West, Script Editor, Kudos; and chaired by: Emily Hayward-Whitlock, Head of Lit and Book to Film, The Artists Partnership

Celebrating London Book Fair’s Awards and Drinks Reception: International Excellence Awards & Lifetime Achievement Award

Wednesday 19  April

*In Conversation with The Illustrator of the Fair, Dapo Adeola

An illustrator, author and character designer, Dapo Adeola was awarded Illustrator of the Year at The British Book Awards in 2022. His new book Speak Up! will be published by Puffin in May 2023. by He will be in conversation with actress, director and public speaker Kelechi Okafor.

*Sustainability in Books Publishing – What has Been Achieved to Date and What Still Needs to be Done?

This session will explore strategic views on sustainable publishing – lessons learned, best practices & future actions. The discussion will focus on concrete actions and ways to work together to minimise the input of resources across the whole supply chain, including the advancements of a bespoke ‘Carbon Calculator’ to help industry tackle climate change.

The participants are  Rachel Martin, Global Director Sustainability, Elsevier;  Amanda Ridout, Founder and CEO of Boldwood Books, Chair of the IPG Sustainability Action Group;  and chaired by: Ashley Gordon, Publishing Market Development Manager Leader, HP.

*In conversation with The Adult Author of the Day, Ann Cleeves

In conversation with UK crime writer Ann Cleeves to discover one of publishing’s most popular genres. Ann is the author of over thirty-five critically acclaimed novels, and winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger 2017. She’s created detectives Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn, who can be found in ITV’s Vera, BBC1’s Shetland and ITV’s The Long Call. Her latest book is The Rising Tide, her tenth Vera novel.

*Celebrating Inclusivity and Representation in the Book and Publishing World

How do we inspire and connect with young readers to embrace inclusivity and diversity through the voices and stories we read?

The participants are Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books;  Meryl Halls, Managing Director, The Booksellers Association;  Kate Wilson, CEO, Nosy Crow and Irum Fazal, Founder, Asian Women Writers.

*Is the Publishing Industry an Attractive Workplace for the Generation of Tomorrow?

With the rising cost of living, aligned to the perceived long-hours and burnout in the publishing industry, how is it recruiting and retaining the next generation? What are the next generation looking for in terms of culture, office hours, and career opportunities?

The participants are  Suzanne Collier, Career Development and Publishing Consultant,; a senior representative of the Society of Young Publishers and Suzy Astbury, Managing Director, Digital and Print Publishing Recruitment.

*Indie Publishing: The Creative Heart of the Industry

Many would say that most of the finding and nurturing of author talent happens in independent publishers. Indies offer a very clear counterpoint to big five publishing and bookshelves are much richer for their existence. However, there are many challenges to indie publishing, not least not having the budgets and economies of scale that the big five have. This discussion will encompass the challenges and successes of indie publishing.

The participants are  Iain Millar, Managing Director, Canelo Publishing (commercial fiction);  Matt Haslum, Managing Director, Chelsea Green Publishing (non-fiction books on progressive politics and sustainable living);  Ebony Lyon, Managing Director, Formy Books (inclusive children’s publisher);  Valerie Brandes, Founder, Jacaranda Books (diversity-led fiction publisher); and  haired by: Sam Missingham, Founder, The Empowered Author.

Thursday 20  April

*Global Market Size and Trends – Championing the Hits in the Industry and Beyond

Delving into the numbers, this session will reveal the most popular books selling around the world in 2023 with a focus on trends observed in the Children’s market. A senior spokesperson from Nielsen Data will speak.

*The Power of the Written Word – What can the Book Industry Do to Address Key Society Topics?

What is the role of the Book industry in using the power of the written word to address key society topics? The conversation will range across topics such as addressing mental health and reflecting on a more inclusive society, to achieving sustainable society and Net Zero 2050 goals.

The participants are  Sanphy Thomas, Managing Director, Jessica Kingsley Publishers;  Jasmine Richards, Founder, Storymix;  and Leah Hernandez,  Chief Executive Officer, Young Authors Publishing.

*In Conversation with The Children’s Author of the Day, Robin Stevens

In conversation with celebrated children’s author Robin Stevens. Her first murder mystery for children, Murder Most Unladylike, was published in 2014, and the series is now internationally award-winning and bestselling. Her latest book, The Ministry of Unladylike Activity, is a spy murder mystery set during World War Two that follows on from her original series.

*The Freedom to Publish: Authors and Publishers Fighting SLAPPs and Censorship

This session, delivered by the International Publishers Association, the Publishers Association, English PEN and PEN International, will focus on the use of libel laws and SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) to intimidate authors and publishers into self-censorship and the importance of the work to defend freedom of expression. Starting with the case studies of two high-profile books published by HarperCollins UK – Putin’s People by Catherine Belton and Kleptopia by Tom Burgis – the session will also examine the risks in other countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Finally, the IPA will announce the shortlist for the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire.

The participants are Tom Burgis, Author (UK);  Simon Dowson-Collins, General Counsel & Company Secretary, HarperCollins (UK);  Jeronimo Pimentel, Director General, Penguin Random House Peru (Peru);  Judha Su, a founding editor & publisher, soi squad (Thailand) and  Tanja Tuma, President, PEN Slovenia (Slovenia), PEN International Trustee.

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