Too soon now to make any changes in the relevance stakes for LBF ’23. Likely LBF ’23 will just be the same old same old. But Rapley needs to rethink LBF ’24 if the London Book Fair is to remain a factor in the international book fair calendar.
When the Bologna Children’s Book Fair announced its 2024 dates would conclude just days before London ’24 was scheduled to start, CEO Gareth Rapley complained that Bologna did not consult with London first.
But as noted in the TNPS essay on same, why would they? They are competitors, not bosom buddies.
I argued then that “Rapley could have held his head high, acknowledged the challenge, and tried to rise to the occasion. Let’s make LBF24 so good that those who had to choose would choose London over Bologna. Hey, Gareth, you’ve got a full year to make it happen!”
Rapley had other ideas and has rescheduled London to happen before Bologna, to run 12-14 March 2024.
A stroke of luck for Rapley that the venue was even able to accommodate the change, and per a report by Lauren Brown in The Bookseller, Rapley said:
“This will be a longer-term move to this period going forward, and we now are planning for LBF to be held around the same time in March from here on. We hope this provides welcome certainty for the international adult and children’s industry.“
Brave words. The danger here being that having said this will be a regular new date, Rapley cannot now pivot again if a new clash arises in the future.
The bigger issue remains what London will bring to the international publishing table apart from a more convenient date.
In a previous TNPS essay I too up a theme raised by the Bookseller’s Philip Jones, asking if two West European book fairs in one season are even needed.
That question remains to be answered.
Rapley hopefully understands that the future of the LBF is not about when, but what and why.
What can London offer that Bologna cannot, and why should publishers with limited budgets amid a global economic downturn even need to be at two not-so-very-different European book fairs just a few weeks apart, when they have PW’s US Book Show in attend in May?
Too soon now to make any changes in the relevance stakes for LBF ’23. Likely LBF ’23 will just be the same old same old. Valuable, but not indispensable.
But Rapley needs to rethink LBF ’24 if the London Book Fair is to remain a factor in the international book fair calendar.
Book Expo America, anyone?
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