On Monday morning we were at the stand bright and early for the 9am kick-off. We quickly realised that it would take even the most fleet-footed visitors a good 45 minutes to reach the back of EC2. A quick wander revealed an amazing array of books from all around the world. How on Earth could our little books have any chance against such massive competition? Gulp. A couple of positive meetings boosted the confidence, and at lunchtime I popped outside and found a cafe selling wonderful sausage baguettes for a quid. These one pound baguettes became somewhat legendary, as Martin began a one-man marketing campaign to inform everyone at the LBF of their amazing bargainous properties. Gordon Brown turned up at the cafe across the aisle (presumably not for a one pound baguette) but somehow none of us spotted him. Too busy, I'm saying. Jill arrived in the afternoon and, beginning to be feel the grip of the dreaded lurgy, I made an early exit to hunt for a pharmacist. I did managed to rally to meet Stu, Jill and Martin, and Andy and Emma from Northumbria Uni Press, for a quick pint, but I was severely flagging, and a quick pint was all I had. I retired to the hotel and resorted to gargling asprin. Meanwhile, I'm told, a good night was had by all.
Tuesday saw Stu hit the casualty list, with sore feet sending him off shopping for comfortable shoes. I was pepped up on paracetamol plus, but luckily, Ashley Hames had flown in for LA to act as wing man in a couple of great meetings. It was nice to see how many people from different countries recognised Ashley - his Sin Cities book really does have international appeal. Other titles also attracted international interest, but of course we'll not discuss that until the deals are signed! The day ended in near disaster when Martin realised that a very naughty passer-by had dumped two half-full coffee cups in the box containing our promotional stuff. After the stress and rush to get our catalogues printed in time for the fair, the last thing I wanted to see was a soggy load of them getting chucked out... I went back to my sick bed!
Wednesday was a blur of last-minute meetings and hand-shakings, then a quick pack up, a rush back to the hotel, and then negotiating the Tube back to King's Cross. Any chance of three hours of precious shut-eye on the way back to Newcastle? Not if the woman who was sitting next to me with her mobile on speakerphone had anything to do with it.
So that was the London Book Fair. Good stuff, bad stuff, ill stuff, funny stuff. Was it worthwhile? I suppose we won't know for sure until a few months down the line. Certainly it gave a very useful overview of the strange industry in which we operate. And, thankfully, I am now very much on the mend. God bless antibiotics and all who sail in them.