The Paris Book Fair wasn’t the only casualty of the Coronavirus over the weekend. The Paris Manga and Sci-Fi Show also took a hit.

Scheduled for March 7-8, the event happens twice-yearly, and the hope is that the second incarnation later this year will go ahead, but the March event, which fell within the event-ban guidelines of the French government, is now officially cancelled.

As this post goes live the event’s twitter feed is just announcing how to get refunds. @ParisManga

UPDATE: For clarity, ParisManga tell me that in fact the ParisManga event was cancelled Sunday afternoon around 4PM, several hours before the Paris Book Fair cancellation was officially announced just before midnight, so strictly speaking the headline might read Paris Book Fair joins ParisManga in cancelling.

Thanks to ParisManga and Sci-Fi Show Press Attachée Marion Cochet-Grasset for the clarification. I’m leaving the post headline unchanged as it reflects the fact that TNPS had previously reported the Paris Book Fair would not be allowed to proceed under French government rules to contain the Coronavirus situation.

Meanwhile the French publishing industry journal Actualitté carries a pertinent quote from the organisers of the Paris Book Fair as they explain their decision (paraphrasing an auto-translation):

Our sense of responsibility means that we do not take any risk with the health of those who ensure the success of the Paris Book Fair. Our responsibility is to the exhibiting publishers, authors, speakers, partners from more than 50 countries, and of course our audience of more than 160,000 visitors each year. 

Per a report here at TNPS earlier today, it looks very much like the London Book Fair intends to stand firm and let the British government make the decision for them.

That may be soon. From TNPS:

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend that plans will be published this week, included banning big events.

But as a pandemic looms, is this all too little too late? From TNPS on February 28:

The World Health Organisation has just raised the warning level to its highest. The world is on the brink of a global pandemic. And the London Book Fair is inviting 25,000 people from around the world to cram into a closed environment for three days in a city of 8 million people, and then fly home.

Here’s the thing, LBF: All these cancellations – Penguin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Ingram, Amazon, HarperCollins and a lot more – were driven by a social responsibility – nay, a duty – to their staff and to their country.

The same sense of social responsibility and patriotic duty that saw the Paris Book Fair cancelled.

As one of the most important events in the global publishing calendar, these decisions not to attend the London Book Fair were not taken lightly. But they were taken responsibly.

At this stage in the crisis, with schools closing in the UK and the British government’s leaked worst-case assessment that a half million could die in the UK alone, and with the EU raising its own risk warning, it’s surely time for the London Book Fair to follow in the footsteps of its Paris counterpart and do the right thing.