My second day of the London Book Fair was mostly made up of wandering around and talking to various publishers with a seminar, and a meeting with Nosy Crow and other of my coursemates in between, followed by the Phaidon Book Party (which I was very excited about).
The London Book Fair is a great place to gather career advice from people who are actually in the industry; it is not a fair to go to with the notion that you absolutely will get a job in publishing while there (it is definitely not that sort of a fair) but I found that publishers were more than willing to give me advice in the small lulls between their appointments. It is in these lulls that I learnt that it was definitely a good idea for me to hastily have assembled a business card before the fair, they were everywhere! Being given, being taken, being asked for, being offered and I am so glad I didn’t have to awkwardly announce that I didn’t have any when asked.
I was on a mission; my dream, if I were to be asked about my career aspirations (which I was), is to work in design but I did not have this foresight before my first degree so I did not go to university to study design. I catered to my other dream of becoming a published author/poet and studied creative writing and while it is an experience I would not change for the world, part of me wonders whether I should have studied graphic design as my other subject rather than English literature. My mission was to find out how achievable that dream is without being formally educated in design since A Level.
Luckily for me, the overwhelming response I was given (particularly by independents) was that in comparison to a good body of work, a degree really wasn’t that important. Larger publishers, due to the sheer amount of applications they receive, may opt to making a degree part of their criterion but I was assured that my lack of a degree would not prevent me from getting a design job from a smaller press. Once the first job is out of the way, the experience becomes all important.
It was a very heartening experience and those I spoke too were brilliantly enthusiastic about the books they produce; I love the industry even more because of those conversations.
The day’s seminar was titled ‘The Digital Generation: The Future of Children’s Storytime’ with Ed Franklin (of Booki), Geraldine Brennan, Babette Cole, and Nathan Hull (of Penguin). It explored the children’s book in the digital context, particularly in regards to illustrated works.
It is a worry among parents and grandparents that the move between print and digital may lessen the sanctity of the children’s book and the experience of reading with a child, an experience treasured long before the first tablet. The talk explored how this can be combated, it was remarked that ebooks should be just as beautifully produced as print and treated with the same respect; digital is just a varied format and should not detract from the work it presents.
A positive of digital, which has been expressed in various talks, is that digital can attract children who may not otherwise read. For some children, reading is just not exciting but with the addition of interactive content these children may find in them the home they never found in print. However, there is an issue of balance, too many animations, games and the like can be distracting; any additional content, therefore, should not be detrimental to the story. It is, afterall, a book.
I think it was Babette Cole that expressed that reading is an investment whereas apps and games just pass the time. It was an interesting look into the thought behind the illustrated ebook concept though success in the medium depends entirely on how tech-savvy the parents are.
In this talk, I even had my own little star-striking experience; not a few seats away from me was Suzy-Jane Tanner, a figure who coloured the reading of my early years, whose own works are being converted into e- form.
Talk of digital was rife at the fair, it was very hard to find a spot where you couldn’t hear someone talking about digital opportunities even just in passing. It is not surprising with the wealth of new products that are appearing. One of our modules at OICPS was testament to this, every group had a digital option for their projects and some projects, like my own, were almost entirely digital.
The day ended with the Phaidon Book Party, which was lovely. It was nice to see everyone again and it’s amazing how much my life has changed since interning with them before the MA had started.
The whole London Book Fair experience was brilliant, as I said in my last entry, it definitely affirmed my love for the industry and my future within it. I cannot wait until next year, and I cannot wait until I finally have a proper foot in the door of publishing.