I spent the last few days at The London Book Fair as part of the press (possibly only one based in Australia?) – blogging for my own website and live tweeting under @briscreative. It was an amazing event to be a part of and definitely was not something that I expect. I was actually thinking that it may be something like Macworld in San Francisco but with more of a focus on books and the publishing industry, but LBF went beyond and above that. While Macworld had some repetition in their programme (apps, accessories), a deep US focused and lack of an international trade focus despite that fact that this was a tech event delving more into the lifestyle (rather than trade and industry) brand for global consumers. From Russia to Romania, from the emerging markets of Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong, from high tech China m-publishing on smartphones to the large global publishing houses, The London Book Fair was a deep dive into the publishing, literary cultures and overall creative industries world-wide. This year, the trade market focus was on China and I had an opportunity to properly look through what was on offer, talk to the representatives and even picked up a copy (which is, believe it or not, all about LED design manufacturing and packaging – something that I’ve been interesting in reading about due to my festival days).
There was something really personal to this event for me as well, something that was unexpected. While I came in specifically to seek out digital solutions, innovative ways in the publishing industry and also seek out what the level of Australian involvement is, I have never realised until this event the major role that the publishing world has in my life.
There was a huge children’s section and it was amusing seeing the juxtaposition of men and women in suits discussing deals, rights and content distribution amidst the backdrop of colourful, even sparkly, children’s books titles. I remember as part of a primary school project, having to make a children’s book which my mum has still kept and so I was having memories of the time when I did that project.
It seems as if the publishing world has played a major role in many stages of my life – from early to mid high school (Random House Publishing for their young adult series), university (McGraw Hill, Oxford University Press) and today (the App Zone run in partnership with Nook and the Wireless Industry Partnership, and all the digital and tech companies involved).
Another realisation that I had from LBF was that when it comes to content (such as published literary works or print to digital conversions), access is still a major player. Access could be in the form of digital devices such as eReaders and smartphones vying for my attention, it could be the presence of other languages (for example, the Romanian Cultural Institute books in their native language), and other regions that are still yet to enter the mainstream such as those from the Arab world.
It wasn’t just the geographic reach, exhibitor companies as well. It was the very presence of all these printed works. Very obvious I know, but I remember moments late in high school and first year of university while I was doing designs set for print – seeing not just books but also seeing the presence of companies representing prepress, typography, speciality printing and more reminds me of the ‘time’ before I went all completely digital and social and when I spent quiet a bit of time fawning over art and design books.
Personally it was a great event to go to and I highly recommend attending this