Ever since Online Information stopped running, several years ago (the last show I attended was in 2011, the last time it took place at Olympia), there has been an opportunity for a London publishing event based around technical and professional publishing. The Frankfurt Book Fair has always had a flourishing professional and STM component to it, alongside mass-market trade publishing. This year, yet again, The London Book Fair has missed an opportunity to fill that space. Firstly, the conference that precedes it, Quantum, has nothing of relevance to professional publishers. Secondly, and most importantly, it has been scheduled to overlap with the UKSG Annual Conference, the UK’s largest scholarly publishing event, with well over 1,000 attendees, held this year in Glasgow. The Glasgow event runs from Monday to Wednesday; the London Book Fair from Tuesday to Thursday of the same week.
I was talking to one of the UKSG team the other evening and they assured me that UKSG sets the date for its event some five years in advance – well before the London Book Fair determines its own running date. So clearly LBIF knew about the overlap in dates but were not concerned. I spoke to two publishing people who were in the same boat as me, trying to work out some way of managing both fairs, situated at opposite ends of the British Isles. It is an opportunity missed, both for the organisers of the Book Fair but also for the scientific publishing community, and for institutions such as the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Brookes University, who do a great deal to promote the Book Fair and who train students for the whole range of UK publishing. With a little thought, the London Book Fair could be so much more wide-ranging; at present you could almost call it the London Trade Book Fair.