I got into London at 9:30 this morning and had my first meeting at 12. Yep, it’s London Book Fair time again, when everyone says to me “Oh you lucky man, you get to spend the better part of a week in London.”
I, on the other hand, say “Oh, you mean I get to have 28 meetings in 48 hours in a crowded zoo of a Rights Center, trying to remember if my next meeting is with Spain or Germany, whether I’ve met with this person or not, and am I ever going to eat?
Yes, it’s fun, and I love it. I mean, I’m beat—I have slept two out of the past 36 hours and my first meeting stood me up. But I started my day with a lunch with my wonderful client Elaine Powell, ended my workday at a cocktail party for a publisher, and am writing this at a pub with a pint of Trinity Pale Ale. So, I mean, life doesn’t exactly suck.
And I got to spend my day talking to people who spend their days the way I do—thinking about the best books they’ve read recently and how they can convince the most people to buy those books. They just do it in Portugal or the Netherlands or Israel, which is the point of the London Book Fair—it’s a gathering of book folks from around the world who want to figure out what’s Out There.
Publishers advertise their lists in Trade Show booths, sure. But everywhere you look people are sitting across from each other with notebooks or tablets, talking about their books—how certain markets can’t sell paranormal romance while others are dying for dark domestic dramas; which countries need a hardcover publication to show you are serious, while other countries have basically frozen their market until their fiscal situation improves.
There is an abundance of air-kissing and cardboard espresso cups, of eye-rolling and shrugging and tweeting. When I worked in baseball, my wife always said that I enjoyed the Winter Meetings trade show more than I had any right to; I believe the same is true of the London Book Fair. It’s part class reunion and part convention, with elements of speed dating and fraternity rush. But with books. In London. Where you can end your day with a pint of Trinity.