Notes from London: A 'President'; Awards; the 'Hobby' of Bookselling

Hail to one chief or another!

An unusual stand at this year's London Book Fair was a replica of the Oval Office in the White House, where a stream of attendees were photographed at the Resolute desk. The office was part of a promotion for The President Is Missing, the novel by Bill Clinton and James Patterson being published in the U.S. by Little, Brown and Knopf on June 4.

On the first day of the fair, Penguin Random House, whose Century imprint is publishing the book in the U.K., announced that a "special guest" would appear at 12:30 p.m. Former President Clinton had been in Dublin the day before, so rumors spread that he would be appearing at the fair. Alas, that president went missing, and instead a slightly disheveled impersonator of the current president appeared, complete with "Secret Service guards."

Among the nice touches at the stand: the trinkets on the presidential desk included several Russian matryoshka dolls, and next to the Oval Office was a putting green for the hardworking chief of state.


Among the winners of the London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards (see the full list here), announced Tuesday evening:

Bookstore of the Year: The Uppsala English Bookshop, Uppsala, Sweden. (The judges said that the store "demonstrated their all-round capability with the outstanding loyalty of its customers and outreach.")
Library of the Year: The National Library of Latvia
Literary Festival of the Year: George Town Literary Festival, Malaysia
Audiobook Publisher of the Year: Penguin Random House Audio (U.S.)

Sara Miller McCune

In addition, Sara Miller McCune, founder and executive chairman of SAGE Publishing, was honored with the 2018 London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award. Describing her as "a visionary publisher, philanthropist and entrepreneur," LBF said Miller McCune "oversaw the growth of SAGE from a start-up to one of the largest independent publishing companies in the world. For over 50 years, she has led the publishing industry in business, through her tireless support for social science research and through her passion for philanthropy."

"I am a passionate supporter of what I call the four justices--economic, educational, environmental, and social--on an international scale, and I view the work of Sage Publishing as pivotal to their advancement as we build bridges from ideas to usable knowledge," Miller McCune said. "I receive this award as acknowledgment of my pledge to this work and an endorsement to continue to improve the world of scholarship and education for the long-term future."

LBF director Jacks Thomas praised Miller McCune as a "pioneer and an inspiration to those of us--perhaps especially women--in publishing."


Imtiaz Dharker

In what might be a first at a trade book fair, the London Book Fair named Imtiaz Dharker as its first Poet of the Fair. She appeared at the LBF's Poets' Corner; her latest book, Luck Is the Hook, was published last month by Bloodaxe.

Dharker commented: "I am delighted that the London Book Fair has chosen to shine a light on poetry with Poet of the Fair. It is a recognition of the power of poetry, the fact that it cannot be contained and will always find a way to say the unsayable across seemingly impossible barriers."


During a Booksellers Association panel on Wednesday afternoon, Peter Donaldson, co-owner of Red Lion Books in Colchester, which opened in 1978, shared some reports he had found of BA luncheons in the 1950s. One such report, quoting a member of the BA, proclaimed that bookselling was "more a hobby than a job," and "being in the book trade is really rather a lark."

The same BA member stated that as booksellers, "we are extremely un-businesslike people. That follows from our vocation." Someone whose job consisted of working with the "whole of literature," he continued, could not be as driven as someone in a normal business. This BA member added: "Books are nice things to have about the place and book buyers are very attractive people to have about the shop."

Donaldson noted that the era of the "hobbyist bookseller" is long gone, and for a long time now no one has been able to afford to be un-businesslike and continue to survive.

Powered by: Xtenit