The early signs are not promising for this year’s London Book Fair or at least the omens are not good. Back in December I went online to purchase tickets to visit, six weeks later and four phone calls it was finally discovered that my purchase which initially through a ‘computer’ glitch had gone through twice had indeed not gone through at all. The organisers had all of this on record but never once contacted me either by email or phone. A further phone call persuaded them to take my credit card details by phone. A week later I finally received an invoice but still no tickets. Now this in itself shouldn’t be too disconcerting, after all we are all used to bad service but after I had finally managed to extract my badge number to log into the site and begin the usual process of making appointments I found that this function has been scrapped. One of the single most useful aspects of the whole LBF website has been scrapped. No longer is it possible for visitors to go online at the site and make appointments through the calendar system which has worked so well for the last few years. It seems parts of the industry don’t want ‘outsiders’ coming in to their cosy little club.
The Internet has democratised publishing and it scares the pants off certain parts of it. Digital publishing has arrived and it scares the crap out of most of it. I am hoping that this year we see a much greater presence for digital publishing with more emphasis on eBooks and eReaders. Of course it would be great to see Apple their with the iPad or even Microsoft with its ‘Courier’. I hope this year we start to see more acceptance of new independent publishers who are changing the face of the industry. We need doors being opened and not closed and personally I would like to see the area for agents, TV & Film rights and International rights made far more accessible. It is not impossible to get appointments but clearly it is designed to keep interlopers out.
Only time will tell if this year will be a step forward or a step into the dark.