A few weeks ago I wondered out loud on social media whether to attend the London Book Fair. I had no ‘real’ understanding at the time of what the event was all about. The response of those who answered my thoughts was fairly consistent: don’t bother.
What the London Book Fair is: a place for the book industry’s players to get together and do business: press the flesh, network, trade, buy, sell, thrash out deals for their traditionally published pets. It is a place for the professionals.
What the London Book Fair isn’t: an opportunity for unpublished or self-publishers to prowl the stands and the aisles, clutching carrier bags of manuscripts and book synposes, stalking possible marks (agents and publishers) that they might be able to corner in the hope of impressing them with the quality of their work and get a ‘deal’ out of it.
I’m clear about all that. Now that I am I can attend and just relax. I have my ticket.
Why would I go to an event where I will likely be treated as a pariah if my identity were uncovered? The truth is that having just spent eight months living in a culturally sterile city – in fact hidden away in the suburbs – where my unswerving daily routine has been devoid of cultural and English language experiences that haven’t come out of a computer screen, a television or a Kindle I feel the rather desperate need to dive into an atmosphere devoted to one of the loves of my life: books. (Think man in tattered clothing, sunburned to a violent crimson, weeks of stubble and almost blind from the intensity of the light, crawling out of the Sahara desert and spotting a swimming pool shimmering with cool, unchlorinated mineral water. [Or is it a mirage?]) And the opportunity to visit and soak up a bit of London’s atmosphere is something else I’m looking forward to. Maybe I’ll call in on the bookshops in Charing Cross Road and Cecil Court. Just thinking about it is making me smile.
As for the LBF I have aboslutely no intention of doing anything other than turning up, mooching about, handling books, smelling success, sipping coffee and generally spooning up the ambience of the place. I don’t think that I even want to talk to anyone. (After eight months in the wilderness I’m not much of a conversationalist these days).
I’ve never been to anything like it before so it’s something new for me. It can feed my dreams, which is never a bad thing if it’s not hurting anyone. And who knows, I might learn a thing or two.