London Book Fair Tips

Or, Why You Are Better Off Without a Table in the IRC

By Marleen Seegers – first posted in April 2013.

1) Don’t worry if you don’t have a table.

Really! For various reasons I didn’t book one in the International Rights Center this year (2013), and all things considered I am very glad I didn’t.

The entrance to the IRC (up the escalators), which is the standard meeting point for people without a table, is an amazing place to network! I ran into people I hadn’t seen or spoken to for weeks/months/years, got to chat and meet with other people who like me were waiting for their next meeting, who introduced me to other people, who introduced me to some more people, and so on. The spontaneous nature of these encounters was very uplifting and I did pitch quite a few titles (hey, it only takes five minutes!)…

Now, you do run around quite a bit, so I wouldn’t recommend this if you can’t part with your dear Louboutin pumps.

The LBF only lasts three days, which makes it definitely doable. The Frankfurt Book Fair and its five (or six, or seven) days of meetings is of course another story.

See also tips #2, 3, and 4.

2) Wear flat shoes, especially if you don’t have a table.

3) Find a friend who does have a table, and leave your coat/hat/umbrella (it is London and it is April) with them.

Tables come with a locker and space to hang your coat. Thanks again Andrea and Elsa!

4) Again, if you don’t have a table: go to the entrance desk to the IRC first thing when you arrive at the fair each morning to get your daily sticker which allows you to enter the IRC.

Even if your first couple of meetings aren’t in the IRC, as this will avoid having to stand in line later on. It can get quite crowded there during the day.

To get a sticker, you need to prove that you have at least one meeting inside the IRC that day, and showing them your schedule will suffice.

5) Organize a dinner

Don’t wait to get invited, organize one yourself! Preferably with one or two other people (which is what I did this year—thank you for co-organizing Ella and Marina!).

Pizzerias are the perfect place for this kind of event—who doesn’t like a good pizza after a long day of meetings? Your vegetarian friends and publishing partners will also be grateful as there’s almost always a veggie option.

I’m currently establishing a list of good restaurants and cafes in amongst others London that aren’t located too far from the Fair, which I’ll share with you soonest.

Pay attention not to end up with too big a group (sorry for those not invited!), 10 to 12 people is the maximum.No worries about not seeing all the others you would have liked to invite, as you will surely see them later that evening at the Londoner Hof:

6) Go to the Londoner Hof

Created two years ago (thanks Greg!) to fill the void felt by many of us at the LBF—that there wasn’t a place where we could all gather at the end of the day like the Frankfurter Hof during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Londoner Hof is the place to end your evenings in London. It takes place at the NH Kensington Hotel, just a few minutes from Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.

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