The Authorlounge in Earls Court 2 at the London Book Fair

April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

My first taste of the London Book Fair, yesterday, 15th April 2013 was the wrong one; I went in the Earls Court Entrance that was visible from West Brompton tube station (there was no train going to Olympia that morning). I went up the escalator into an area that was largely filled with rows of tables. Was this the extent of the London Book Fair? It was a little dim and bleak. Of course it wasn’t! I was soon looking down on the illuminated ground floor, filled with hundreds of stands.

As a visitor, I should have gone through the West Brompton Entrance which is just a hundred metres or so up from the Earls Court Entrance. Then I would have orientated myself better. Of course, you can plan your day in advance by looking at the London Book Fair site. I had done a little of that but not enough; I never thought there would be so much.

The London Book Fair is divided into Earls Court 1 and Earls Court 2. If you have navigation skills like mine, you may well find that your allegiance to one of them proves to be permanent. If you start out living in North London, you may never venture to live in South London.

For a first-time visitor the London Book Fair is overwhelming. What business does an unpublished writer have at it? Where is she to spend her time? She has no need yet for international distribution solutions or much to say to the hundreds of stand holders.

Having been given The Love Learning Onsite Guide by the London Book Fair team, I thought I would start the day attending seminars. As seminars were being given in the AuthorLounge (Earls Court 2) that lasted for three quarters of an hour and, with fifteen minute intervals, went on throughout the day that seemed a good place to start.

I was there before ten and was able to secure a seat in the second row easily enough. But by the time the first seminar was underway, the lounge was filling up and there was soon only standing room. If you wanted to keep your seat, you needed to stay on it. The audience overflowed the lounge. Some had to be content with standing outside the booth.

There were other events at the Pen Literary Café (Earls Court 2), and other seminars too in Earls Court 1 that I would have like to have attended. However, unless you are blessed with powers of bi- or tri-location, you have to plump for something and hope it is the right thing. Do you really want to stand outside the AuthorLounge when you can sit at the front and ask questions? At the end of each seminar was a question and answer session.

The seat, after three hours, became increasingly uncomfortable. When I left it at lunchtime, I lost it and had to be content to listen to some parts of seminars from without.

For the seminar on ‘How to Get a Literary Agent’, I was back in the lounge but not on a seat; my seat was on the floor which I discovered was more uncomfortable than the seat I had deserted. People hovered, ready to pounce when a seat became vacant.

For authors of any kind, published and unpublished, who want to find out what is happening at the moment in the world of books, the AuthorLounge is the place to be.

One attendee commented that even as recently as two years ago the AuthorLounge was not much of a draw. It was evident to her that authors were more important today.

All speakers at the AuthorLounge made it clear that there is a revolution or renaissance (as one speaker called it) in the world of books, and no one quite knows the direction to take. But few would deny that all concerned must adapt, change, and evolve to survive.

Authoright is curating the Authorlounge at the London Book Fair.

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