Bookfair Chic

I had a manicure on Saturday. I look at my red fingernails adoringly. They are undoubtedly the highlight of my otherwise gloomy week.Boston Public Library

The distributor has raised their charges. Peirene’s designer would like more money. PEN will not fund our roaming store UK tour in the autumn. And to top it all, when the third print run of The Mussel Feast arrived on Thursday, I discovered that the books have been glued appallingly. I have to return the entire order to the printers.

I end the week with a worry of how to cover the rising costs. Our increasing book sales are held in check by ever larger discounts to amazon and bookshops alike.

‘I see you have been painting your nails, ‘Peirene throws a side glance at my fingers. ‘Perhaps you should have been looking after the business.’ She is peeved that I didn’t take her along to the beautician.

‘Actually,’ I lift a gorgeously manicured finger, ‘these nails are going to help me clinch a few book deals this coming week.’

It’s London Bookfair. I have 40 meetings, three dinners and a couple of parties.

Six years ago I attended my first London Bookfair. The idea of setting up a publishing house was on my mind, but I hadn’t yet founded Peirene.  Moreover, I didn’t know anyone in the international publishing world, nor was I invited to any dinners or parties. I went to the fair to make contacts and had set myself a target of not leaving Earls Court unless I had spoken personally to ten people. Ten business cards. By 4pm I had received three. Most people didn’t want to talk to me. I remember leaving the building and sitting in a cafe wondering if I could face returning inside. I did. By the time the fair closed that day I had managed to hit my target of ten contacts.

At this year’s fair there will be lots of familiar faces and a lot of catching up – with plenty of professional and personal gossip. I am looking forward to the break from my desk and the day-to-day running of the publishing house.

‘Did you also buy new shoes for the fair by any chance?’ The Nymph knows me too well. There is no point of denying my Saturday spending spree.

‘Well, let’s hope all these fashion accessories will help you to secure us a bestseller.’ She turns back to her screen, mumbling: ‘Otherwise you might have to find an evening job to cover your extravagant life style.’

Image by Boston Public Library.

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