This week the annual London Book Fair returned, but to an all new location: Olympia. And it was huge! Don’t get me wrong, it’s never been a small event, however Olympia felt almost overwhelming, especially as I have no sense of direction whatsoever!
Luckily, the children’s publishers were all housed together, upstairs, which meant that once we’d got past the crowds, it was relatively straightforward to find what we wanted. Adding to that, I had Mr Frog with me, which helped greatly. The poor man spent the majority of our visit saying things like ‘No we’ve already been that way,’ in a slightly exasperated tone.
As usual, there was a great amount to see. With new books hitting the shelves constantly, it was exciting to see the actual books, rather than just a catalogue. Interestingly, many of the stall holders seemed surprised to meet real-life booksellers. One lovely woman actually exclaimed ‘Are you real booksellers, with an actual shop? Oh, how lovely.’ Although it made us chuckle at the time, on reflection, that’s a bit sad. Partly because we are a dwindling breed and partly because booksellers don’t seem to be taking up the opportunity to visit this great event. It is true that much of what happens at LBF is geared up for international trade and publishing, but there’s still a great deal to learn for us. The fact that you get to see the books, meet up with publishers, authors and fellow booksellers, makes the experience well worth it. Even if the journey is a nightmare, due to lorries hitting bridges and trains being cancelled. But we won’t dwell on that…
For us, the highlight was the children’s publishers event, where very brave (and accomplished) representatives from a plethora of publishing houses had just four minutes each to dazzle us with hot new titles for the year ahead. The time keeper was firm but fair, meaning that we got to hear about so many wonderful titles in just over an hour. Not only that, but we met up with the sparkly Laura Dockrill, who has asked to come back for a visit very soon – watch this space!
As an aside, it was truly lovely to see Laura again. Firstly, because she’s great and secondly, because we always worry that authors are just being polite when they say that they’ve enjoyed their experience with us at Chicken and Frog! So, it’s brilliant when an author genuinely wants to come back for another event. Maybe it’s the chocolate that we bribe them with…
Mr Frog was particularly pleased when he spotted this gem from Stephanie Blake,
And I was more than happy with this tea room, in addition to the huge amount of glorious Alice books etc that are coming this year, to mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece. I shall leave you with this image. Here’s to #LBF2016 – although I think that the organisers need a jolly good rest first.