Two weeks ago, on a rainy day not unlike today, I went to the London Book Fair. Immersing myself into the business of books seemed a logical part of my quest to understand the wonderful world of publishing.
Having been to a great many trade shows in my previous life, it was quite exciting to see all the stands and watch people do business. And business was indeed being done ever which way you looked. In addition to enticing book displays, just about every stand had tables and chairs to facilitate getting down to meetings and negotiations. The Irish Times in their review described ‘the “Big Six” publishers (Simon Schuster, Hachette, Random House, Penguin, Macmillan and Harper Collins)… [as] situated in the centre of the hall boasting vast stands, which resemble[d] sizeable coffee shops’. And despite some of these coffee shops having very professional-looking reception areas, I have to admit I was halfway expecting someone to shout out an order for a venti latte and a ham and cheese panini any minute.
The realization that publishing is indeed big business is particularly exciting as it takes me back to the buzz of the big business that is the hospitality industry, where I spent fifteen happy years of my career. And having at one point or other been responsible for revenue managing just over one billion dollars worth of sales, I get that publishing, like any other industry, is all about making money… and lots of it.
Yet at the same time, it was completely magical being drawn back into the exciting world of stories and make-belief that is children’s books. I am rather enjoying rekindling my love affair with picture books in particular, although Lilly is not yet a willing accomplice. At this stage, she loves to play with her board books but really above all she wants eat them. She’s probably just hungry due to lack of snacks, and the nutritional value of cardboard trumps that of wooden blocks. Her very first puppy book is already looking rather ‘loved’ (read ‘gnawed around the edges’). So for the moment, the pleasure of checking out stacks of picture books from the library (under the pretense of research, of course) is all mine.
Even more exciting was the unexpected highlight of someone in the writing world actually liking my blog! It was a comment hidden in a ‘PS’ at the bottom of an email so I didn’t even see it until about 10 days later. I blame my lack of attention to detail and fine print. Made my day though!
Felt a bit like Sarah, the girl in Love Actually who hides behind the door doing a silent celebratory dance… just without Karl, the dishy design director, waiting on the other side. What I got instead was a strange look from the husband. I get those a lot. I guess life isn’t like the movies… although I do rather feel like I am auditioning for a part in a new play called publishing!
I guess I just need someone to deal with that fine print.