London Book Fair buzzes with insight and innovation on day 2

The second day of The London Book Fair 2024 witnessed a vibrant confluence of literary luminaries, industry experts and enthusiasts at Olympia London. 

With a lineup that boasted names like Richard Osman, Dr Julie Smith, Steven Bartlett and Flavia Z Drago, according to a statement, day two was abuzz with insightful discussions, celebrations of literary achievements and a deep dive into the evolving landscape of publishing.

Gareth Rapley, the Director of The London Book Fair, expressed his excitement about the day’s events, highlighting the incredible turnout and energy that permeated throughout Olympia. He mentioned the diverse and well-attended sessions that catered to various facets of the literary world, from mental health in the creative sector to the burgeoning realm of audiobooks and AI integration.

The day started with a captivating keynote address by Dr Julie Smith, skillfully moderated by journalist and mental health author Kat Brown. Their conversation touched upon crucial topics such as mental health challenges faced by authors and Dr Julie’s meteoric rise on social media platform TikTok, showcasing the intersection of mental well-being and digital platforms in today’s literary landscape.

A highlight of the day was the Trailblazer Awards ceremony, which celebrated the accomplishments of industry trailblazers and offered insights into their journeys and upcoming endeavors. In partnership with key industry players, this event symbolised the spirit of innovation and progress that defines The London Book Fair.

Stephen Bartlett, renowned British entrepreneur and podcaster, engaged in a thought-provoking discussion with Joel Rickett, Managing Director of Ebury, shedding light on the parallels between podcasts and books and advocating for creativity and accessibility in content creation.

The Author of the Day, Richard Osman, captivated the audience with reflections on his publishing career and the creative process behind his bestselling novels. His conversation with author and television reporter Elodie Harper offered valuable insights into crafting compelling narratives and engaging readers across diverse demographics.

The Illustrators’ Afternoon witnessed engaging sessions on book cover design and the evolving role of illustrators in the publishing realm. Flavia Z Drago, the Illustrator of the Fair, sparked intriguing discussions about visual storytelling and its impact on readership.

The rise of audio content consumption and the role of AI in shaping global trends were explored by industry experts from the Audio Publishers Association, PRH Audio Publishing Group and Audible, highlighting the dynamic shifts in content consumption habits and technological advancements.

At the Sustainability Hub, discussions centred around the impact of UK donated books on global literacy, underscoring the role of literature in fostering education and cultural exchange worldwide.

The Charles Clark Memorial Lecture delved into Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property, featuring esteemed speakers who examined the intersection of AI technologies and legal frameworks in the publishing domain.

A panel comprising authors, industry leaders, and accessibility advocates emphasized the importance of authentic storytelling and representation, showcasing the positive impact of inclusive narratives on diverse readerships.

The day also witnessed the announcement of The Writers’ Prize winners, marking a decade of literary excellence and celebrating outstanding contributions to fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

In a testament to the global reach of literature, fans of translated fiction gathered to celebrate Foundry Editions, a new independent publisher focusing on translated works from the Mediterranean basin.

The London Book Fair serves as a dynamic platform that not only facilitates rights negotiation and content distribution but also fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration within the publishing ecosystem. With each session and interaction, LBF 2024 reaffirmed its status as a vital nexus for literary enthusiasts, industry professionals and emerging voices shaping the future of storytelling.

Highlights for Thursday, March 14

•Keynote Panel: SheEOs in Publishing, Women Pioneering the Pages

Main stage,10:20–11 a.m. Trailblazing women in the industry will discuss leadership, innovation, and the future of publishing. Panelists include Judith Curr, president and publisher of the HarperOne Group; Ameena Sayid, founder and managing director, Lightstone Publishers; and Bodour Al Qasimi, chairwoman of the Sharjah Book Authority and founder of Kalimat Group. The panel will begin with an announcement of shortlist nominees for the PublisHer Award.

•Author of the Day: Joseph Coelho

Main stage, 11:15 a.m.–noon. Joseph Coelho, who was elected U.K. children’s laureate in 2022 and as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2023, will appear in conversation with BBC journalist, actor, and documentary filmmaker Greg McKenzie. Coelho’s books include the Luna Loves… series and the collections Overheard in a Tower Block and The Girl Who Became a Tree.

•Writing Against Violence: Palestinian Literary Voices

English PEN Literary Salon, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Palestinian writers will consider the value of continuing to produce, share, and champion Palestinian culture and literature in the face of military bombardment. Participants include Elizabeth Briggs, Isabella Hammad, Hannah Khalil, and Rafeef Ziadah.

•Creating a Culture of Reading for Pleasure

Main stage, 12:15–1:15 p.m. As the world turns ever more digital, it’s become increasingly important to champion reading as a source of pleasure for young people. But how best to do that? Panelists include Nicola Usborne, managing director, Usborne Publishing; Helen Freeman, director of Oxford Children’s at Oxford University Press; Cassie Chadderton, CEO, World Book Day; Jonathan Douglas, CEO, National Literacy Trust; Helenor Gilmour, director of insight and strategy, Beano Studios; and Kelechi Okafor, author and podcaster.

•Diversity & Inclusion in Books: Have We Done Enough?

Main stage, 1:30–2:15 p.m. How far have the creative industries progressed in fostering diversity and inclusion, and what challenges must yet be addressed? Panelists include Michael Sheen, actor and philanthropist; Farrah Storr, head of writer partnerships, Substack; Tracey Markham, senior v-p, country manager, Audible; and authors Sunjeev Sahota and Katy Shaw.

•Marketing Romance: BookTok’s Leading Genre

Tech Theatre, 1:30–2 p.m. Romance is BookTok’s leading genre. Panelists Georgia Henry, director, the Pitch Agency, and Genevieve Barratt, deputy head of marketing, Simon & Schuster, discuss how it happened and how publishers can make it work for them.

•Authors and BookTok: Tips and Advice

Author HQ 1:45–2:30 p.m. This session will offer advice from content creators for authors wanting to make their mark on TikTok. Panelists include Joseph Hall, Amy May Andrawos, Anya Smith, and Zubs Malik.

•A Trinity of Freedoms at Risk: Expression, Publishing, and Reading

Main stage, 2:30–3:45 p.m. Authors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians are all feeling the effects of the increasing number of threats to the freedom of expression, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read. What are the stakes, and where to go from here? Panelists include Tanja Tuma, interim international secretary, PEN International; Nick Poole, former CEO, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; Aziz Isa Elkun, researcher, SOAS, University of London; and Laura McCormack, Booksellers Association U.K., with moderation by the Guardian’s Claire Armitstead.

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