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Isobel at LBF10: Day 3

Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul is at the London Book Fair. She will be blogging her thoughts on this unusual edition of the annual trade event, disrupted by volcanic clouds that have reduced visitor numbers by an estimated 20 per cent.

London Book Fair

Day 3: Wednesday 21st April

"How did you get here?"

The London Book Fair today felt like the Mary Celeste. Stands with no one on them, publishers sitting looking very glum. It is such a shame after all the hard work they have done and hardly anyone there to appreciate it. A shame doubly, as the stands look so inviting: I wish I had time to visit more of these wonderful publishing companies. I am definitely a window shopper and find it very hard to pass by and not pick up some of the books on offer.

When I turn up for my appointments I am greeted by gasps of surprise. “How did you get here? What kind of journey did you have?” Well this is where my overactive imagination kicks in! I would love to say, by camel, by dhow, by foot across the Sahara, and I may even be believed! However that would not be the truth and it is a bit of an anti-climax when I have to let them know I was here prior to the volcano erupting and spewing ash into the skies.

The most important part: inviting authors!

Even though this was the last day of the fair, it turned out to be most worthwhile.

I had four meetings and each publisher suggested a writer or poet who we had not considered yet. I felt that by the end of the morning a very interesting and topical strand was emerging for our 2011 programme – if the authors are able to come.

The final day of meetings at London Book Fair looks like it will be key to next year’s festival, if all goes according to plan...


Finally I had lunch with Liz Thomson of BookBrunch, and we chatted about this year’s festival and next year’s, about the future of publishing in UK and in our region. Liz is such a knowledgeable person and I would imagine has spent most of her working life in the books industry. I find BookBrunch a daily must-read, to learn about anything that is happening in the world of books, and not just the UK. I am amazed how Liz manages to conjure up such good news, day in, day out. She did say that during the Book Fair she barely slept.

Well, I wave a final goodbye to this year’s book fair and now back on the train to Cambridge to write up copious notes of all the meetings. I am sure the Dubai team will be anxiously waiting to hear which authors we may have enticed to next year’s event.

It is a gloriously sunny day and London is very perky and full of busy people, long summer evenings are on their way and the air travel crisis seems to be coming to an end. I had visions of getting back to Dubai over land and by sea, and am quite sad that will now probably not be the case. On the other hand, I love being cosseted on the Emirates flight: time to watch some great films, eat some delicious meals... then stretch out and catch up on some well-earned sleep!

That's all from Isobel for now, but as you can see we will soon have more names to announce! To keep up to date with the Festival blog, subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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