Tuesday, April 17, 2007

London Bookfair

It is a fabulous venue for LBF this year; I missed last year's disastrous trip to the Docklands but against Olympia the venue at Earls Court is far superior. It also helps that the organizers have listened to the attendees and the publishers to make the aisles wider, the furniture and fixtures more accommodating and pleasant and made sure there were enough food outlets. Olympia was especially bad at food and drink outlets.

It is also an active show with a lot of seminars to attend but the traffic on the floor is also robust. There is more than enough discussion about the state of the business both from the perspective of publishers and retailers. There has been some expressions of concern I have heard about the state of book retailing in the UK and the unknown impact of the Border's divestiture. There have been rumors that Richard Branson is interested in acquiring the chain and if that were to happen perhaps it would invigorate the book segment. There is a pervading emotion of disappointment by publishers in the way book retail has been managed in the UK and there is a general feeling that publishers can not expect improvement any time soon. It is a sad circumstance.

Given the level of acquisition activity in education publishing, there is a sense from publishers I spoke with that this is going to continue to be a very active year. There is an expectation that the Harcourt and Thomson deals are only the beginning and that trade will also see at least one major house put on the block before the end of the year.

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