The Publishing Post
London Book Fair 2023 Round-Up
By Megan Whitlock
From sustainability to the cost of living, the 2023 London Book Fair came back with a bang to cover a wide range of pressing industry topics and news. The London Book Fair is one of the biggest annual events in the industry calendar, with the 2022 event seeing 15,000 attendees and exhibitors from over one hundred countries (The Bookseller). With the 2023 event running from 18 to 20 April, initial reports suggest that this year the attendees have nearly doubled to 30,000 (Publishing Perspectives), indicating a return to the fair’s pre-pandemic levels. The fair’s new director, Gareth Rapley, who was announced in September 2022, shared in a statement recorded by Publishing Perspectives that the boost in attendees “is such a vote of confidence in the event and a testament to the special place it holds in the publishing calendar.”
Indeed, as well as being a place for key industry figures to network and exhibit, the fair is also a hotspot for deal making, rights trading and collaboration. Notable speakers this year included the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and bestseller, Kate Mosse. Khan gave a keynote talk on what publishing can learn from other industries about sustainability, and promoted his book, Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency; Mosse particularly focused on global championship of women's voices in the industry. In addition to an array of chief executives from organisations such as HarperCollins, Nosy Crow, Bonnier Books and the Publisher’s Association, there was also a guest spotlight on Ukraine and Ukrainian writers’ responses to the war, organised in partnership with the Ukrainian Book Institute.
There were plenty of events for publishing hopefuls, too, with the SYP (Society of Young Publishers) hosting panels covering the attractiveness of publishing as a workplace for future generations and the price of publishing in relation to the impact of the cost of living crisis on the industry. There was also a panel on getting into publishing featuring the winners of this year’s publishing Trailblazer Awards, including The Publishing Post’s very own founder, Chelsea Graham!
The key topics picked up on throughout the book fair focused on the urgent need for publishing to adapt to the climate crisis, the rising costs of publishing in the current economic circumstances – and subsequent need for book price increases – and the rise of influencer marketing (and books), with several TikTok stars receiving book deals. Though it may be a while before the dust settles and some of the biggest deals that came from the 2023 fair can be dissected, one thing that’s certain is that post COVID-19 publishing is back with a boom.