For more years than I care to admit, book fairs were a huge part of my professional life: spring and autumn, London and Frankfurt, the same stand in the same exhibition halls for more than a decade. Prior to the pandemic, the only signficant disruption to the routine was the Eyjafjallajökull eruptions in 2010 when, absent many foreign visitors, London Book Fair was more of an opportunity to catch up with colleagues. Obviously that routine came to a crashing halt last year. LBF has been put off until later in the year, but this week I participated in the closest thing I’ve experienced to it online, the Independent Publishers Guild’s International Publishing Forum, where I spent two days with Xigxag. Despite the occasional technical hitch, the whole thing worked pretty well, with a mix of events and virtual stands to visit. It can’t compare with the serendipity of running into someone at Olympia, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the networking side of it worked, and we did a useful amount of business.
Events aside, the shape of the week was working on publisher contracts and follow-up material from the strategy workshop I ran at the start of the month: a fairly standard week. The biggest difference was doing it in a largely empty house with the girls back at school. The lack of interruptions meant quite a high level of productivity, but it felt too quiet at times.