An Upbeat Atmosphere at the 2024 London Book Fair

An Upbeat Atmosphere at the 2024 London Book Fair

The familiar hustle and bustle of pre-pandemic times continued to be felt at this year’s London Book Fair

2024 London Book Fair

Tuesday at 6:45pm, pitching as if it’s my first meeting of the day!

After the optimism we witnessed at the most recent Frankfurt Book Fair, Sr Agent Chrys and I also felt a wave of dynamism and positivity during this year’s London Book Fair, with editors from around the world actively seeking new titles to acquire from many different genres.

We hadn’t seen this much enthusiasm in London since before the pandemic, even though the early fair dates (March 12-14) seemed unpopular with everyone attending. Indeed, it felt like we’d only just wrapped up submissions done around the Frankfurt Book Fair, and (pitch) material often wasn’t quite ready yet in early March. We are going to have to get used to it though, since the LBF will take place early to mid-March for at least another two years!

2024 London Book Fair

Chrys already deep into pitching mode as I arrived on Wednesday morning for my 9am meeting!

We did notice, though, that many companies were paying extra attention to their travel budget. London is an expensive city, and the number of attendees per company was usually lower than at previous fairs, while the people who were there seemed to stay for a shorter amount of time than they used to.

One notable trend that we already observed in Frankfurt continues to be the rising popularity of romantasy, a genre that combines elements of romance and fantasy. While English-language books in this genre continue to be in high demand, often spurred by the popularity of TikTok/#BookTok videos by influencers who review these books, (Northern) European markets such as the Netherlands, Germany, and, to some extent, the Scandinavian countries have been more actively looking for non-English language romance and romantasy titles, as well as other genres.

In these markets, as I pointed out in our article covering the 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair, English export editions are an increasing threat to the local publishing industry, as there is a growing appetite for English books. English-language publishing groups such as Penguin RandomHouse US are adapting to this trend by opening distribution centers in Europe.

Unfortunately, literary fiction continues to face challenges in terms of sales, and literary novels seem to increasingly need nominations of well-known prizes, or even better, well-known award wins to attract the attention of foreign publishers.

Another significant trend is the continued demand for books focused on (mental) health and, in general, prescriptive nonfiction. At this fair, quite a few books on longevity were being pitched, perhaps in the wake of the international success of Peter Attia’s book Outlive.

In nonfiction, we also noticed a continued interest in the true crime genre. Business, marketing, and leadership titles continue to find homes specifically in South-East Asia (China, South Korea, Japan,..).

Speaking of which, Asian titles are gaining popularity worldwide, particularly from countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. While I visited several London bookstores, I noticed countless translations of Japanese novels focusing on themes like cats or bookstores, or preferably both, and the requests for books from South-East Asia that we received during our meetings show that this trend is not slowing down any time soon.

2024 London Book Fair

fltr: Chrys, Ilana, and me just before we were kicked out by the LBF staff as they needed to clear the premises 😉

As it happens, we’re grateful to handle an Asian title that became one of the ‘hot’ titles at the LBF, with preempts and auctions happening in multiple territories: Hu AnYan’s I Deliver Parcels in Beijing. We represent this literary memoir from China, which has drawn comparisons with acclaimed films like Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days and the Oscar-winning Nomadland, on behalf of Astra House in the US, who acquired world rights excluding Chinese simplified and complex characters from the original Chinese publisher Insight Media. The enthusiasm we continue to receive for this title is truly refreshing and encouraging!

We ended our full three-day schedules at the LBF with a bang when our current, London-based intern Ilana joined us during our last meetings on Thursday. She even pitched a few books and handled things like a pro, as if she’d been doing this all her life!

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.