Pauline Rowson takes a look back at the The London Book Fair over the years

I was trying to recall how many times I have visited the London Book Fair and have to admit that I can't. I do however remember that the first time I visited  the London Book Fair was in 1998. It's hard for me to believe that it was so long ago.  My first impressions were that it was like no other exhibition I had ever attended and that impression remains, although I have witnessed the changes over the years.

In 1998 I was running my own Marketing and PR Agency and had branched into writing a series of marketing sales and assertiveness books (which are published by Crimson and Matrix Media) so I thought the London Book Fair would be a good place to eye up the competition and find new contacts.  What struck me was that whereas in every other exhibition  I have attended people on the stands try to sell me something, at the London Book Fair no one wanted to sell me anything! In fact nobody even wanted to speak to me. I have since learnt over the years that the London Book Fair,  like the much larger Frankfurt Book Fair, which I have also attended, is a place where you meet up by prior arrangement with your contacts from around the World. You go there with appointments already made.

Looking back I believe that yesterday was either my tenth London Book Fair or my eleventh.  The London Book Fair team will announce the visitor and exhibitor statistics at the end of the three day event taking place in Earl's Court but to me it  seemed less vibrant than in previous years, with the exception of when the ash cloud from the volcano in Iceland prevented  the overseas visitors flying in. 

Pauline Rowson outside the London Book Fair 2013

So what are the changes?  Well for a start the digital arena didn't exist in 1998 but is now a major part of the London Book Fair. The stands dedicated to self publishing and e books were also non existent in 1998. There are more seminars across a whole range of subjects of interest not only to the publishers and agents but also to authors both published and self published. And in the past whereas authors were positively frowned upon or ignored they are now welcomed.  

And what have I got from attending the London Book Fair? I have made some great friends and met up with my various publishers, Summersdale, Matrix Media, Crimson and the publisher of my DI Andy Horton crime novels, Severn House, I have also learnt a lot about the publishing world and selling rights and have met up with my Chinese, Italian and Brazilian Literary Agents and many more.

Pauline Rowson left with her publisher of the DI Andy Horton crime series, Edwin Buckhalter, Michelle Duff and Katie Buckhalter of Severn House

 On Monday 15 April it was good to catch up with those I know in the book world and see so many people there from all around the world.  The publishing industry has changed a lot since 1998 and will continue to change but then what industry doesn't. The one thing that remains constant though is that people still want to read books in whatever format, they still like a good story and from an author's point of view that is good news indeed.

Undercurrent is the ninth in the DI Andy Horton crime series published by Severn House in the UK, Commonwealth and USA.

Available in hardcover and as an ebook in all formats including Kindle, Kobo and Nook.


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