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FBF and that bulldog spirit

Horace Bent leads the tired, hungry UK publishing masses into the terra incognito of EU-land


ou will immediately recognise us, fellow international book- trade brethren, by the stoop of

our shoulders; the fraying, threadbare clothes; and the dead, hollow eyes of people who have seen far too much. For it is us, the post-Brexit British book industry contingent. If the predictions of Brexit’s

apocalyptic effect on the UK publishing industry were true, I imagine we would walk into Hall 6 today to see it reduced to a shantytown, with Tom Weldon right and Ian Hudson huddling together for warmth as the remains of the Penguin Random House stand burns; Charlie Redmayne below hauling a wheelbarrow full of pound sterling and a trussed-up Kate Elton through the rubble in hope of exchanging his bounty for one double espresso; Tim Hely Hutchinson selling off one of his ancestral homes—one of the smaller ones, mind you—to some jumped-up American parvenu. And somewhere, in the distance, the

wolves howl. Oh, come on! It’s not that bad.

Sure, the hole in the wall laughed condescendingly at us as we withdrew a mere handful of Euros in exchange for swathes of sterling, and Ed Victor might be reduced to drinking *shudders and whispers* prosecco this FBF. Actually, we all know he bloody well won’t. But this is the UK, baby, home to J K Rowling and Paula “Gravy Train” Hawkins. We’ll survive by dint of our lucrative though now cut-rate rights portfolio and the Blitz spirit that got us through tough times before: you remember the London Book Fair’s move to Excel in 2006, don’t you?

Besides, haven’t you heard? It’s

been said in the seminar salons and conference halls across the Messe— repeat it often enough and it’s true, repeat it often enough and it’s true— the UK is open for business. Although it has been said somewhat feverishly, like a shop owner whose building is covered by scaffolding and those sheets with pictures that look like buildings on them. Come inside! Yes, we

All that’s needed is a little bulldog spirit . . .


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Paul Smith suits and £85 Charles Worthington haircuts”. But, there’s tons of cash around for

UK publishers! Take Bonnier—“we’re Britain’s fourth-biggest publisher”— which is spreading the dosh around, building its lists with astonishing speed, looking for the next L S Hilton (there are a few, er, specialist clubs in Frankfurt for those tasked with this). It even bought a novel from a fella who just happened to have the name Bonnier— and whaddya know, he used to run the whole global company! I jest. British Bonnier knew just who

really are open! Right through this hole in the tarp—mind the falling masonry . . . Brexit is, in fact, an opportunity, said

the Publishers Association’s Stephen Lotinga at yesterday’s The Markets conference, “to remake Britain into the model of 21st-century publishing”. You know, free from the shackles of the boring, tired old European Union. Lotinga was nodding enthusiastically at this, perhaps trying to convince his arch


Lotinga’s past, he used to be spin doctor for EU-leaning Liberal Democrats. The Sun once called him “Smoothy Stephen”

with a “love of expensive

self. For those unfami ar with e the

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B @ Promo code FBF16

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it was dealing with, though Sweden’s A B Bonniers supposedly received the book on anonymous submission. My face, as I type this, I think would be called “resting disbelief face”. But, still, it could happen. You could, oh, I don’t know, recieve a crime submission from The Blair Partnership and not have a suspicion that it is TBP’s biggest client . . . yes, that’s right, noted children’s author Frank Lampard, another great British export and one who is mighty glad he is paid in US dollars for his day job. 

Editor Philip Jones (0364) NEWS Deputy editor Benedicte Page (0367) · News editor Lisa Campbell (0369) · Online editor and producer Sarah Shaffi (0370) · Children’s editor Charlotte Eyre (0392) · Web editor Caroline Carpenter (0376) · Reporter Katherine Cowdrey (0365) · Reporter Natasha Onwuemezi (0366). FEATURES Features and insight editor Tom Tivnan (0373); Charts and data analyst Kiera O’Brien (0375). PRODUCTION Chief sub-editor Mark Guest (0377). Deputy chief sub-editor/Buyer’s Guide manager Brian Payne (0378). Creative editor Danny Arter (0379). ADVERTISING Head of publisher relations Emma Lowe (0362); Account manager Emma Hare (0387); Business development manager Maria Vassilopoulos (0393); Publisher relations co-ordinator Sandra Williamson (0385). MARKETING/ EVENTS Head of subscriptions and data Anna Martin (0371); Events manager Grace Harrison (0386). Client development manager Gerard O’hare (0384). MANAGEMENT/FINANCE Publisher and chief executive Nigel Roby (0361); Office administrator Francesca Pymm (0390).


Printed in Germany by Alpha Print Medien, Kleyerstraße 3, 64295 Darmstadt. Annual subscription: UK £187 (libraries); UK £196 (all other businesses); Europe £224, RoW £264. ISSN 0006-7539. © 2016 Bookseller Media Ltd, Inc. All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


During the Frankfurt Book Fair you can deliver stories to Hall 6.0 C104 or email tom.tivnan@thebookseller. com or lisa.campbell@


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