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London Book Fair 2009

Yesterday was Day One of Book Fair, so I arrived keen to see if the books we sent months ago are actually on the stand, and to discover if the shelf is buried in obscurity or near to eye level. Once again, the Independent Publishers Guild stand was prominent and effective. I even forgot to take a photo of our shelf of Rucksack Readers. Next year we'll be 10 years old, which seems amazing.

One of the joys of Book Fair is being able to sit and talk to our partners from all over the world: Derek and Wayne of Hong Kong Graphics and Printing who make all our books these days, Craenen of Belgium who distribute in Europe and Interlink Publishing, Massachusetts, who distribute for us in North America. In fact it was this time last year that the idea of going back up Kilimanjaro by the Lemosho route was conceived at Book Fair in a conversation with Michel (who set up Interlink in 1987). Last June we all summited, and he and his partner Hildi have even created a gift book drawing entirely on this trip. I'd be truly delighted about that if it weren't for the fact that their book is likely to be out before my own, overdue guidebook, which keeps getting sidelined!

Today's main joy was listening to great novellists. I began with Umberto Eco, who is one of my favourites. A new novel from Eco is a rare event, about once in 8 years, and hearing about his full career as an academic historian, philosopher and teacher of semiotics and essayist, no wonder. Unlike most authors, he wasn't here to promote a new book, but to present an award to his editor. He spoke freely about the passionate battles between his editor and translators, sometimes days and weeks debating a single mot juste. Happily he scotched the rumour (spread in Wikipedia) that he would never write another novel, though he conceded he might be slowing down a little. Now in his late 70s, he seemed much younger, more energetic and full of humour as well as wisdom and patience.

Later I caught up with William Boyd talking about an unusual source of ideas for his novels. He lives beside the Thames, and had been struck by the little-known fact that over 50 bodies a week are recovered from its waters. How many of us could turn that into a best-seller? Sadly my business meetings that clashed with Vikram Seth, speaking this afternoon, whose novels "A Suitable Boy" and "An Equal Music" are some of my favourites.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 21, 2009 6:53 PM.

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