The London Book Fair gets underway

Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska among VIP line-up

The International Booker Prize 2023 shortlist announcement;

The largest Spring gathering of the international publishing industry assembled at Olympia on 18 April as The London Book Fair kicked off its first day. Thousands of exhibitors and visitors from the UK and around the world gathered to do business, share expertise, network and attend sessions covering topics ranging from Ukraine to sustainability, tips for writers, social media, and augmented reality in education.

Gareth Rapley, director of The London Book Fair, said: “What a wonderful opening day of LBF. It has been amazing seeing global publishing meet again face to face under one roof – the buzz has been incredible. From the Ukrainian guest spotlight with an address from Olena Zelenska, to the International Booker Prize shortlist announcement, to Colson Whitehead as our International Author of the Day, it was great to see Olympia buzzing with authors, agents, editors, publishers, journalists and influencers. We hope everyone has had a great, productive first day of LBF and we can’t wait to welcome you back for the next two days of the Fair.”

Highlights from Day One:

There was a welcome address for the guest spotlight Ukraine, with speakers Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine, Oleksandr Tkachenko, minister of Culture, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Parliamentary under-secretary for the department of Culture, Media, and Sport, and Gareth Rapley, Director, The London Book Fair.

Gareth Rapley, director of The London Book Fair conducted the International Press Briefing.

Brian Murray, president and Chief Executive Officer, HarperCollins Publishers, was in conversation with David Roche, Non-Executive chairman, The London Book Fair. David Roche Enterprises covered thought-provoking perspectives from HarperCollins Publishers over how the book and publishing industry can be prepared for growth in a shifting landscape.

Sherri Aldis, director, United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, United Nations, and Gareth Rapley, Director, The London Book Fair inaugurated the sustainability lounge.

Anna Davis, founder and managing director, Curtis Brown Creative, Alexia Casale, Course leader and Senior Lecturer, MA Writing for Young People and author, Bath Spa University – Faber&Viking, Sarah May, writer and creative writing tutor, Faber Academy, Magdalene Abraha, publisher, Jacaranda shared tips on how to make a work-in-progress stand out.

Brian Wafawarowa, president, Publishers Association South Africa, Lawrence Njagi, managing director, Mountain Top Educational Publishers, Gbadega Adedapo, MD/CEO, Accessible Publishers  Nigeria, Mercy Kirui, Senior manager, Content, eKitabu,  Bibi Yusuf Bakare, Publishing director, Cassava Republic Press celebrated the journey of promoting literacy, book access, indigenous languages, and library restoration in Africa.

The International Booker Prize shortlist was announced, which included Boulder by Eva Baltasar translated from Catalan by Julia Sanches (And Other Stories), Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim (Europa Editions), The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Conde translated from French by Richard Philcox (World Editions), Standing Heavy by GauZ’ translated from French by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press), Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Fitzcarraldo Editions) was announced by novelist Leïla Slimani, Chair of judges.

Naomi Bacon, founder and director, Tandem Collective Ltd, Emma Petfield, head of Digital Marketing, One More Chapter, HarperCollins UK, Jules Swain, Ashley Baugh, head of Digital, and associate director, Midas discuss the most effective ways to reach readers as an author and make the most of social media in 2023.

Helen Freeman, director of Oxford Children’s, Oxford University Press, and Benny Arbel, CEO, Inception XR uncovered the latest trends in immersive media and talked about recent parent and teacher findings on the perceptions of reading and discover what opportunities that presents for combining traditional reading with Augmented Reality.

There was a meet and greet with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.

The 2023 BookBrunch Selfie Awards winners in the three categories – best adult fiction, best children’s book and best memoir/autobiography – were announced by Jo Henry, managing director of BookBrunch.

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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