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I've written stories ever since I could write, but somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the joy and natural desire to write for me. Churning out stories every other week for my degree course, and forcing non-existent brilliance out of myself has drained my natural spirit. So, I have created myself a blog in an attempt to find a way back to what made me fall in love with writing in the first place. Only you and I will discover if I fail or succeed...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

In Which I Take a Trip to Earl's Court

The London Book Fair was in full stride last week as my train pulled into Earl’s Court station. After a brief panic when I realised I’d forgotten to print directions,[1] I found my way to Earl’s Court 1. My first thought was, it doesn’t look like you could fit a whole house in here.[2] But otherwise it was as I’d expected. At first.

I wandered around, scanning stands for How to Books Ltd, the publisher on which I’d decided to base my publishing assignment. After passing about fifty publishers I realised I needed some directions. Helpfully I chanced upon a huge map listing all publishers. I found the stand I was looking for, rather surprised at the size of the independent publisher and headed in that direction...and then headed right back. Had I looked at the map wrong? Double checking I’d got the directions I headed back towards the stand...[3]

Two more tries and I gave up for the mean time and looked around instead. I wandered through the entrance of the IPG’s stand. Sitting right in front of me was How to Books. The strangely large stand was actually a collection of smaller stands within the IPG. A few seconds pretending to examine catalogues and neighbouring publishers and I’d built up enough confidence to approach my first ever publisher.

What I thought was going to be ten minutes trying not to be too bothersome turned into a half hour fully fledged interview about the workings of How to Books. They were more helpful than I thought any publisher would be.[4] Then it was time for the first of many seminars in the Children’s Theatre.

Later on, a mix-up with the schedules and I had an hour and a half free to wander and explore. A few stands in and I was stopped in my tracks by Hachette. I don’t think I can call the sophisticated construction a stand. Which, by the way, had a second floor.[5] And that was only the first...

HarperCollins displayed their international presence with archways made out of enlarged bar codes saying ‘HarperCollins Canada’, ‘HarperCollins USA’ etc. Hungarian Szalay Publishing and Trading House had an archway made entirely out of books. Steve Brookes Publishing’s stand was every bit as mystical as its book The Land of Dragor. It was complete with crystal ball and real fume effusing cauldron, below.

Other highlights were Bloomsbury’s swanky-hotel-like reception desk, Walker Books’ logoed window and illustrated wall, Alligator’s ... alligator border, and a particular favourite of mine, The Noble Collection UK’s display filled entirely with Harry Potter memorabilia.

Finally, to end this particularly long post,[6] walking past Hay House’s stand saw me do a double take.[7] The fake grass floor, adorning leaves and spinning hearts made out of flowers didn’t do it. The life-size Easter Island-esque waterfall certainly had me intrigued.

Until next time. Au Revoir xx

[1] Quickly solved by the ‘exhibition centre’ signs. Oh, and the massive ‘London Book Fair’ banner staring over the station.
[2] This thought was propelled by a conversation I’d had with my mother two weeks before. It went something like: ‘I’m going to the London Book Fair. It’s in Earl’s Court,’ ‘It’s very big there – you know they fit whole houses inside at the home show.’
[3] Note: the stand numbers weren’t shown on the actual stand, hence why I could not be sure which stand I was looking for.
[4] But still just as intimidating to the novice publishing student.
[5] And a refreshments bar. Unfortunately, only for those taking part in meetings.
[6] For which I will not apologise, because the pretty pictures more than make up for the lengthy text.
[7] Literally – I walked along, glancing past the stand as I did all the others, stopped with my foot held in the air and looked back.

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