The London Book Fair was a 3-day extravaganza – Peju Akande and Toni Kan

...a clear affirmation that the book industry is alive and well

The 2023 edition of the London Book Fair has come and gone but the echoes continue to reverberate.

Hailed as the “largest spring book trade and publishing event in the world”, the London Book Fair (LBF) drew a mammoth crowd of constituents of the book and publishing value chain made up of writers, editors, publishers, writers, illustrators, translators, rights buyers and sundry book lovers.

More than 30,000 attendees

Over the span of three days, more than 30,000 people gathered at the Kensington Olympia in London in a clear affirmation that the book industry is alive and well.

This was highlighted by Gareth Rapley, Director of The London Book Fair, who said: “What a wonderful Fair it’s been. We are delighted to see attendee figures back to pre-Covid levels, which is such a vote of confidence in the event and a testament to the special place it holds in the publishing calendar. As my first London Book Fair, it’s been a fantastic experience and I look forward to growing this momentum in future years.”

Countries from Canada to France, Turkey and Germany amongst others were represented while book publishers like Harper Collins, Faber, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Canongate, HQ and more came out in all their glory to give Londoners and visitors from across the globe a three-day extravaganza.

Who’s who at LBF

The London book fair drew heavy hitters like London Mayor, Sadiq Khan who gave the opening keynote and was not shy in promoting the imminent publication of his memoirs, Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency, royalty like Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and literary A-listers like Colson Whitehead, who was Author of the Day 2,  Kate Mosse OBE , novelist and founder of the Women prize for Fiction who delivered an inspiring keynote address, Children’s Author of the day, Robin Stevens, and  Sophie Keetch, Author of the hit debut Morgan is My Name whose conversation with podcaster and author Mark Stay to focused on the resurgence of retellings of myths and legends.


Other notable attendees were Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Louise Minchin, Leone Ross, Nikesh Shukla, Sadiq Khan, Leila Slimani, Natasha Carthew, Irenosen Okojie, Fflur Dafydd, JD Kirk, LJ Ross, Pablo Rivero, Juno Dawson, Sofia Rehman, Janice Hallett, Eve Werscoki Morris, Elle McNicoll, Katie Khan, Luan Goldie, Jasmine Richards, Tskenya-Sarah Frazer, Dr. Julie Smith, Vaseem Khan, Dr Margaret Skea, Daniel Kehlmann, Samvartha Sahil, Mark Stay, Colin Grant, Clare Lydon, So Mayer, Georgina Moore, Jeffrey Zuckermann, Jen Calleja, Jai White, Carl Reader, Preti Taneja, Xesús Fraga, Sawad Hussain, Annie McDermott, Jamie Lee Searle, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Mark Dawson, Hannah Lynn, Nicola May, Sophie Keetch, Ioane Pezuashvili, Gordon Smith, Paul Westmoreland, Robert Tregoning, Harriet Muncaster, Laura Lee Dockrill, Harriet Evans, Rebecca Abrams, Matt Adlard, Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York and more.

Canongate @ 50

Jamie Byng of Canongate celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publishing house with a shindig at Koko in Camden Town where he Deejayed while Pan Macmillan threw a party to celebrate Ken Follett’s fifth and final Knightsbridge title, The Armour and the Light. Follet, a former journalist has sold 190 million copies and been translated into 43 languages was celebrated at the festival by.

Nigerian born, Dapo Adeola whose book, Aniyah and the Dragon has just been acquired by Puffin in a six figure deal was Illustrator of the Fair.

The ever-popular Author HQ stage returned to The London Book Fair this year, with varied sessions tackling key topics of interest for aspiring, emerging and independent authors. Topics include TikTok and social media, sensitivity reading and copyright, AI tools for writing and marketing books, children’s books, preparing for publication, writing and resilience, how to design a top-notch cover, and more.

Writing, AI and Ukraine

Ukraine, AI and ChatGPT received attention at the fair. Ukraine’s resilient publishing market was spotlighted by discussants Olesia Khromeychuk, writer, scholar, and director of the Ukrainian Institute in London, Mariana Savka, poet and editor-in-chief of award-winning Old Lion Publishing house, and Olena Odynoka, deputy director of the Ukrainian Book Institute. It was moderated by Olha Mukha, Ukrainian philosopher, and cultural analyst, PEN International.

Dr Andres Guadamuz, Reader in IP Law, University of Sussex and specialist in both AI and copyright, gave his perspective on what advancements while such as ChatGPT mean for the future of copyright.

Africa joins the convo

The African book and publishing industry was thrust into the conversation thanks to Dr. Aniete Isong, writer and research who presented the “Sub-Saharan Africa Literature and Publishing Sector Report” which was commissioned by The British Council as a scoping report into the trade publishing and literature sectors in nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in which it operates. Lamenting the lack of structure in Africa’s  book publishing sector, the report notes that “Pirates are also estimated to control a staggering 90 per cent of the book, music and film publishing industries in Nigeria.”

Aniete Isong at LBF 2023
Anite Isong at LBF

Deals were struck, insights were shared at well curated seminars and literary salons organised by the likes of PEN English and the British council publicity garnered for books yet to be released at a true gathering of who’s who in the book publishing industry and The Lagos Review was there to cover the event.

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