Practical Inspiration at the London Book Fair 2019

A guest post from Francesca Zunino Harper, who manages our Practical Inspiration social media, on #lbf19

Book industry-wise, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Small publishers, big players, fiction, academic, art, comics, poetry, translation, from Indonesia (this year’s guest country) to Wales, from Reading to Mexico, from Latvia to China. Books, books, books. Beautiful stands, beautiful catalogues, posters, covers, marketing collaterals, leaflets, magazine special editions. And more books, and more amazing content to be shared globally.

But flat comfy shoes, summery clothing and lots of water are also a must; in the huge Olympia multi-space, it can feel a bit like spending the day inside the Kew Garden Temperate House. Olympia’s long vault ceiling, elevated in 1886, also looks like Kew’s beautiful Victorian glasshouse, although Olympia’s is even more imposing. There’s much more space for people and books to blossom in this exhibition ‘green house’, and all in the space of three days. Three levels of floors are all filled with people and books, catalogues and chats, at the pinnacle of their flowering season.

The roof at Olympia

As every year, our three days at this year’s London Book Fair were packed and extremely fulfilling. The Italians have a saying that the best wine is found in small bottles, and we’d argue the best content is often found in small spaces… Our little, happy, busy stand within the IPG’s collective space was surrounded by those of other independent publishers and as every year we felt part of a wonderful community of people committed to bringing out the best in culture and human inspiration. As usual the IPG space was one of the busiest spots in the Fair – and not just during the traditional Wednesday afternoon drinks!

The PI stand

We talked about books, listened to other people talk about books, made new contacts, said hello to old friends and colleagues in the industry, had numerous meetings to sell books, to promote books, and to help increase the number of quality books the UK industry will publish next year. It was the year’s greatest book event, as well as probably one of the most intense worldwide. Our brand-new catalogues were so popular that we had to have another set delivered on the second day, and we also had an excited new author come and hand-deliver her finished manuscript to our publisher Alison. What a joy to be part of such a great happiness. It was one of our proudest moments at the fair.

Manuscript handove

Our very own Alison Jones’s book, This Book Means Business, proved a victim of its own popularity: for the second year in a row it disappeared from our stand. Annoying on one hand, but oddly flattering on the other… we hope it will get yet another brilliant review soon, albeit possibly an anonymous one.

After three days our feet were tired but our spirits were high. Being able to offer practical inspiration to both business professionals and people who wish to deepen their wellbeing is such a rewarding way of life that we’re thankful to be in publishing, an industry which has not only a big heart but a very well-developed brain.