London Book Fair 2019

Athanasios VenitsanopoulosBook Fair, News

This year, IAF attended the London Book Fair to meet with members and hear about the issues affecting them. We have written up a selection of some of the most interesting events at the Fair for those of our members unable to attend.


Indonesia was the market focus at this year’s London Book Fair. Indonesia’s Publishing Industry: An Overview was chaired by Emma House, Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association, with speakers from Indonesia’s publishing industry including Wandi S. Brata, Laura Prinsloo and Rosidayanti Rozalia. They discussed the unique challenges and opportunities publishers in Indonesia face, giving an overview of the diversity of Indonesian culture in a country with over 261 million people speaking 200 languages. With more than 17,000 islands, the creative industries are not evenly spread, with Java containing more than half of the country’s population but an estimated 90% of the publishing industry. One of the most unique features of the Indonesian book market is how readers have used the internet to purchase printed books; direct selling from publishers is a major market, but one of the fastest growing ways to buy books has been through delivery apps such as Go-Jek, which acts as a kind of Deliveroo for book stores across Indonesia.

In my opinon: Contested identities are tricky to use

In Contested Identities: Writing, Writers, & The Brexit Enigma Katherine Faulkner, Head of News at The Times, chaired a conversation with Helena Farrand Carrapico, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Aston University, and writers James Meek and Caryl Phillips. Meek and Phillips debated how, for some, Brexit can be seen as a punk moment of the UK – upsetting the status quo – and for others, an unwelcome identity crisis from which the UK may struggle to reinvent itself. Phillips discussed his opinion that the US has reinvented itself as a result of shifts in each direction and posed the question as to whether the UK would do the same. Whatever the outcome, the panel agreed that writers will have a role in dissecting, describing and defining identity in the UK in the years to come.

Charles Clarke Memorial Lecture

This year’s Charles Clarke Memorial Lecture featured Daniel Gervais, Director of the Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Program at Vanderbilt Law School, who reflected on how the history of copyright can guide its evolution in the digital age. Gervais discussed how the UK Parliament originally established copyright to support and promote learning, but in the digital age we do not further this goal by simply enabling more content. He suggested that our intermediaries are no longer the cultural patrons by whom copyright was managed, and that now online platforms focus on enabling whatever content possible to gather data from, or deliver advertisements to, users. Posing many questions about where we go next, Gervais suggested policy makers look to our past to ensure progress in cultural matters; he stated that for the most part, culture that has stood the test of time has come from people who were given the time and opportunity to develop ideas, and who were paid for their work, and that policy makers should keep this in mind in their approach to copyright.

Deal(s) or No Deal(s)

The Publishers’ Licensing Services sponsored Deal(s) or No Deal(s), chaired by William Bowes, The Publishers Association; Peter Phillips, Cambridge University Press; Robert Specterman-Green, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS); Andrew Hood, Fieldfisher Law Firm; and Kathleen Farrar, Bloomsbury. The panel discussed the potential impact of Brexit on the UK publishing industry. At this event the Publishers Association outlined the key principles for intellectual property (IP) that it would campaign for in any trade deal, including free speech, effective copyright, no tariffs on books, regional exhaustion and acknowledgement of global IP treaties. Representing DCMS, Specterman-Green congratulated the work of the book industry in their preparatory approach to Brexit. Hood stated that with the uncertainty of Brexit, the industry has had to make preparations with the worst-case scenario in mind. Whether or not this happens, the biggest concern is how to manage a business with so much uncertainty, such as books that have already been dispatched may now be stopped on arrival. Phillips discussed his experience of working with UNICEF initiatives to deliver books to displaced children and how this demonstrated the importance of international logistics to the industry. Altogether, the panel hoped that principles such as free speech and effective copyright would feed through to any trade deals the UK might need to establish.