Amelia’s Magazine | The London Book Fair: the volcanic fallout on attendance in April 2010

London Book Fair- empty stand
London Book Fair- empty stands due to volcano

The London Book Fair is held yearly at Earls Court in West London and it is the primary place for book publishers, pharm distributors, information pills shippers and producers of associated book paraphernalia to gather and do business together. Yesterday I went down there to find out how my tiny contribution to the book market, Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, is getting along amongst the sea of titles, and to find out just how much attendance had been affected by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

What I found was lots of empty stands. One was for Clarks Worldwide Shipping: the irony was not lost. Some had hastily scribbled notes taped to the table. South African companies were particularly absent, as were visitors from America and Australia. But I met a Swedish man who had travelled overland to get to the book fair, and on one stand the Norwegians were putting on a great deal of fish based canapes. The Scandinavian countries, I am told, always put on a great nosh-up because they are keen to promote their arts to the rest of the world.

London Book Fair- empty stands due to volcano
London Book Fair- empty stands due to volcano
London Book Fair- empty stands due to volcano
London Book Fair- empty stands due to volcano

Central Books distributes Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration in the UK, and their stand is located in the second arena, just behind the discount booksellers. I suspect most people will only pass this area in search of the tasty Scandinavian snacks beyond. (The beauty of hospitality at the book fair is that anyone can dive in, anywhere. Just head down an aisle in the direction of any cluster of people and you’re bound to find a mini party that you can join.)

London Book Fair- Scandinavian Snacks

My book was sandwiched between a photo book about the seasons and a guide to London. And beneath two memorable tomes by different authors, joined in their delusions: The Hockey Stick Illusion and The Wind Farm Scam. Both clearly my kind of book. I skim read the intro to the latter, and discovered no clear idea of what exactly is suggested as an alternative energy source. Suffice to say I will not be reading this book to find out. Sadly I don’t think I’ll be attracting a multitude of buyers given the company that Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration is keeping.

London Book Fair - Central Books

At Idea Books – who look after my international sales – my book looked more comfortable, sandwiched between lots of other idiosyncratic art books. One that I particularly took a shine to was a hardback photography book called Diggers and Dreamers by the wonderfully named Love Enqvist, which documents the utopian vision of architects across the world. One place I had not heard about is called Arcosanti, in the Arizona Desert. It’s been a work in progress since 1970, a vision of the Italian architect Paolo Soleri, who invented the concept of “arcology” – where buildings are designed to interact with the living environment. What remains is a brutalist masterpiece and there are plans afoot to complete the rest of the dream.

London Book Fair- Idea Books

Over at Gestalten I had a cheery chat with Lee who works down the road in Spitalfields. Two books in his roster really caught my eye, The Upset compilation of young artists, and Flowerhead by Olaf Hajek. He also introduced me to the second issue of Elephant magazine; produced by Marc Valli of Magma Books, who I am more used to dealing with concerning sales of Amelia’s Magazine. It’s a beautifully produced affair by someone who is up to his eyeballs in the design world every day of the week.

London Book Fair-The Upset, Gestalten
London Book Fair-Flowerhead, Olaf Hajek, Gestalten

Black Dog woo-ed me onto their stand with a new title, The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home. As well as being intrigued by the assimilation of different cultures I’ve always loved a bit of kitsch, so this looks like a thoroughly fascinating book that I hope to be able to review.

London Book Fair- The Front Room, Blackdog

As the witching hour fell I wound along the aisles, snaffling a peanut here, a glass of water there (yes really, I didn’t take advantage of the free wine.) A few people said with resignation that the fair seemed very quiet but everyone was sanguine as to the reasons why. It will be interesting to see how the lack of visitors from further afield impacts book sales in the long run – but most predict far busier fairs in New York and Frankfurt later this year.

London Book Fair- empty stand

In the meantime if you would like to stock Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration in your shop, please get in touch with Central Books or for international buyers, Idea Books. Or alternatively just drop me an email.

Categories ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Arcosanti, ,Arizona, ,Black Dog, ,Canapes, ,Central Books, ,Diggers and Dreamers, ,Earls Court, ,Elephant magazine, ,Eyjafjallajökull, ,Gestalten, ,Idea Books, ,London Book Fair, ,Magma Books, ,Marc Valli, ,Olaf Hajek, ,Paolo Soleri, ,The Front Room, ,The Upset, ,Volcano

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