Zoned Out in London

Defying the duck-and-cover geopolitical indicators, this year’s London Book Fair remains stolidly on-message that it’s going to be more buzzed than ever when it rolls out on March 16. The “Publishing Solutions Zone” is — yes — “bigger than ever before this year,” with 60 stands, up by more than 20; the number of international table-holders at the Rights Center was up 31% last year, with jam-packed conditions forecast once again; and don’t forget the new “zones” of specialization: Art, Architecture, and Design; Christian (last year’s Frankfurt boycott by Germany’s religious publishers should result in a sellout for this sector); and, hearteningly, Travel and Maps, a category that knows geopolitical fallout when it sees it.

Then there’s (gasp!) The Public. Coming off last year’s “How to get Published” event, there will now be three “Master Classes” aimed at the writing masses. Held in conjunction with English PEN, the courses cover children’s fiction; memoir and biography; and film and TV writing. Each session lasts two hours and is chaired by a leading broadcaster (consumers can attend all three for £85). The scribbling commoners still won’t be admitted to the main hall at Olympic, but the idea seems to be that they’ll feel as if they’re touching the hem of the veil. And there’s Granta’s Young Writers Sessions and the Hay Festival seminars — and sponsorship by the Guardian and Daily Mail, media buy-in to be considered by BEA organizers, perchance.

The 3rd EpubLondon remains a two-day affair but is a long way from the glitzy consumer focus of Rocket eBooks and We’re talking e-learning, B2B, content management, and metadata. Unfortunately, the “Great Autumn Flood” panel, which PT previewed last month, has been canceled (after being renamed “Running To Stand Still”; apparently the metaphors got too depressing). We’ll leave you with this note of consolation: The LBF dates dovetail grandly with Paris’s Salon du Livre, so there’s just enough time to pack up your stand and your bags, recover from the week’s excesses, toddle across the Channel, and do it all over again.