Monday, April 11, 2011

Around the Word, London Book Fair Edition

The London Book Fair kicks off today, gathering together an expected 23,000 industry pros for three days of international wheeling and book-dealing. While last year's event was hampered by the Icelandic volcano, which made travel impossible for a huge percentage of the fair's oversees delegates, Variety reports that the 2011 version has quite literally risen from the ashes: this year's show features an unprecedented 1,696 exhibitors from 58 countries.

We may be stuck stateside, but we're doing our best to round up this year's writerly talking points and key you into the conversation over the next few days. Here's a couple opening tidbits of interest.

Bear market (Part I): The current retail market is be tough, but Random House CEO Ian Hudson, for one, isn't swayed by the publishing doomsayers. "I’m convinced we’ve got a bright future. What we’re talking about really is how to bring books to our customers. To do that, we need to buy books," he told The Bookseller -- music to every writer's ears.

Bear market (Part II): Russia is the international "Market Focus" of this year's book fair, succeeding South Africa as the event's featured guest. The program, designed as a "key opportunity for UK and international publishers to liaise with their foreign counterparts," will spotlight some 50 Russian literati, along with about Russian 70 publishers. In Rossiyskaya Gazeta's supplement to London's Telegraph, Russian publishing guru and deputy head of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications Vladimir Grigoriev reflects on the state of post-Soviet letters.

Bullish on digital: "Platform is key, distribution will be a challenge, but the digital numbers are finally beginning to live up to the hype." This was the general takeaway on the state of the E-volution from a range of speakers at the Sunday kickoff of the LBF's Digital Conference, according to Publishers Weekly. Some of the most encouraging word came from outside the book world. British video entrepreneur Michael Comish predicted that 2011 will be a "tipping point" for the e-publishing field. And Paul Brindley of argued that the publishing industry was much better positioned that their recording peers had been to adjust to changes in the marketplace.

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