“LBF offers an important, tangible opportunity to Indian publishers to do business”

Says Gareth Rapley, Director, London Book Fair, in an interview with All About Book Publishing.

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London Book Fair 2023 is all set to be held from April 18-20, 2023 at Olympia, London. Here, Gareth Rapley, Director, London Book Fair, shares more on the upcoming book fair.

AABP: How has the London Book Fair evolved according to changing dynamics in the publishing industry?

Gareth: Our focus for this year is to deliver real value to our customers, exhibitors and visitors. We want to continue to make of London Book Fair a crucial business opportunity for participants through productive commercial meetings, as well as offering key areas for discussions in our seminar panels, on the topics that are affecting our sector the most.

AABP: What is your vision for the London Book Fair and how do you wish to make it happen?

Gareth: As our tagline says, London Book Fair 2023 aims to “define the future of creative content,” by providing a platform where the book is central and that will be bridging the discussion across all areas of creative content. Indeed, the London Book Fair is hub of the publishing world and the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. As the world is able to (slowly) go back to business as usual, our goal is to help businesses getting back on their feet, but providing great opportunities for new partnerships, fresh conversations, informed discussions, and a renewed excitement for the written word and the creative sectors surrounding it.

AABP: What new initiatives are you bringing in for the 2023 edition?

Gareth: I would like to highlight three new initiatives we are bringing at the London Book Fair 2023:

  • Sustainability Hub: The new sustainability hub will provide a way for people from different organisations across the lifecycle of a book to get practical info on sustainability – as we’ve seen there’s still work to be done after COP27.
  • Focus Theatre: This will be an additional hub to our seminar venues, featuring lots of international content, including a session around African publishing.
  • Schools Programme: We are keen to engage with the next generation of talent, and to reach children who are about to make a career choice. We are partnering with the National Literacy Trust for school visits from under-represented areas in London.

AABP: What are the popular mainstays of the Fair?

Gareth: We’re excited that many popular aspects of the London Book Fair will be returning this year, including English PEN Salon, Illustrator’s Afternoon, Author HQ and more. We’re also bringing back our amazing Authors of the Day, which this year are celebrated US writer Colson Whitehead; popular crime writer Ann Cleeves; rising star in the international illustration panorama Dapo Adeola; and much-loved children’s writer Robin Stevens.

AABP: What are the key topics for debate on the Main Stage?

Gareth: We’ll be revealing our full programme for the Main Stage shortly, but here’s a preview of the key areas for discussion:

  • Sustainability: We’re excited to launch the already mention Sustainability Hub, as a place for people across the book industry to get practical information on sustainability; there will also be a number of sessions on Sustainability as part of our seminar programme; we’ve also added a new category in the International Excellence Awards for the Sustainability Initiative of the Year.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: We continue to be conscious we ensure our platform is as accessible as possible, reflecting the breadth of the industry, and we still have a category in the International Excellence Awards for the Inclusivity in Publishing (UK only). Building inclusivity is integral to our programming, a generic undertone that runs through the heart of what LBF does.
  • Cost of doing business: We want LBF to be the key moment for discussing the pressing issues at the heart of the industry, through business discussions and panel sessions.

AABP: What are your expectations from the Fair?

Gareth: We’re fully anticipating a busier Fair than previous years, with attendance driven by international exhibitors and visitors. We aim to be the key meeting point for the industry in Spring 2023, and we have ambitious plains to make sure we fulfil this ambition.

AABP: In your opinion, how important is the Indian publishing industry? What message would you like to give to the Indian publishing community to participate in the fair?

Gareth: The Indian publishing industry has a huge influence in the global book industry. There is a strong relationship, historical as well as commercial, between India and the UK, and the London Book Fair offers an important, tangible opportunity to Indian publishers to do business. Historically, tech and logistic solution companies have had a major presence at LBF, in addition of course to high-calibre poets, authors and exhibitors attending the Fair. We look forward to welcoming the Indian publishing industry again in 2023.

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