Crime author Pauline Rowson takes a look back at the London Book Fair and how things in the publishing world have changed


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.

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 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.  This year though, 2018, I have given the London Book Fair a miss.  Maybe next year I will visit.

The publishing industry has changed a great deal 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.

Where to buy

Pauline Rowson's books at The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery)

Pauline Rowson's books USA

Pauline Rowson's books UK

From your local bookshop


Also available as an ebook and on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and for loan from UK, USA, Irish and Commonwealth libraries


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