Recently I attended the London Book Fair, for the first time. The market focus for the 2015 fair was Mexico. I wore two caps on the day; blogger and aspiring picture book writer. The first thing that struck me was the amount of men in the industry. I suppose on a level I knew but it really hit me at the event. Men in dark suits, of course there were women but at a glance the ratio didn’t appear balanced. Nonetheless, I felt like a child on Christmas morning strolling from stand to stand. I did curb my reader’s enthusiasm, to switch on my writers curiosity for the publishing process. I spent my day predominantly in the children’s publishing area. I visited the stands of a few publishing houses I’d been following via social media. I had brief chats about: their stock, what influences what they produce, the production timescale, what’s popular now and so on. Everyone I encountered were friendly and helpful. I also attended a few seminars in the Children’s Hub. The seminars were all engaging and informative. My only regret was not visiting the Mexican stand. In a nutshell here are key points I noted on Day 2 of the London Book Fair:
- On the challenges of publishing for children with additional needs: An idea gap exists. There is a need for touch and feel books for 3+ years old that has a meaningful identifiable story
- In children’s literature it’s important for children’s stories to explore, reiterate and encourage discussion.
- Touch and feel books should have different, recognisable textures, simple lines, no clutter and not unnecessarily complicated
- Images should join with the story
- NB- any book that has a novelty element must be safety tested
- In a price sensitive area like Mexico, the market is grown by creating books that are needed and not going with the fashion. Think of the needs of the children and create books that will develop the sense of beauty aesthetic in the child.
- The best picture books put the child at the centre and transcends cultures
- There is no longer a browsing experience when it comes to buying book, in the UK many books are bought online, therefore authors and illustrators have got to be more available to their readers.
- e-books encourages children to be interactive
- On why do children read, looking at case studies of reading promotion
- Low reading level and poverty are linked
- Only 1% books in the UK have translated from another language
- Annually Ibby has a collection of books translated from literature of its member countries
- There is a need for a strategic statement of intent for a reading plan, at the moment there is no government reading plan for the UK
- When books were made freely available to mother & baby groups in one town in Mexico, known for its narcotic problems, it was noted that after a few weeks father’s began coming in for books for their children as well
- Aspirations of the future (next 6 months)- more readers in the children market reading translated books, award winning books should be published in translation in England, the first reading ambassador in Mexico to build a great readership, more collaboration for marketing and publishing book, more libraries and bookshops in Mexico
I’m very pleased I attended the London Book Fair. It was a busy full, intelluctally stimulating event and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bring it on London Book Fair 2016.