Monday, June 01, 2009

The Show Must Go On?

Things change. Sounds glib, but reality is that nothing remains as it is forever. So why are we taken aback when many start to question the very social fabric of publishing – the book fair?

We didn’t go to BEA this year, not because we didn’t think it worthwhile, but simply because we felt a holiday break may prove more rewarding. We didn’t miss the frantic scurrying from stand to stand, the eating on the floor, the missed or late appointment and the sore feet? We missed the people one only sees at these events and of course Fred Bass’s Strand party. But life moves on and so should BEA, Frankfurt and London. We remember sitting in Frankfurt as the economic crunch was happening and thinking we were on some weird Titanic that refused to stop partying despite the reality of the world outside.

Just as the UK Booksellers Association has realised with their annual conference that the agenda moves on and there is always a need to question, revisit and improve. The BA conference may not work moving forward, or in its new form, but it has no god given right to do so just for the sake of it. It will be a pity if it now failed, but it has been doing so for some years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

It would be interesting to add the newsprint column inches devoted to Hay on Wye compared to the London Book Fair? Some may say that you can’t mix business events and consumer ones, but anyone who opens their eyes will tell you different. It’s a Book Event and should be managed, run and presented as one and remember there are only two people that matter, the creator who pours the effort in and the consumer who pays for it.

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